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Why does the orthodox community promote gender-segregated schools?

Why does the orthodox community promote gender-segregated schools?

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Question:

Why does the orthodox community so strongly promote gender segregation, especially in schools? How will these children eventually know how to communicate with the opposite gender in marriage if they don't have any opportunity to learn inter-gender social skills in school?

Answer:

The orthodox community is privy to what psychological tests have recently discovered—that men and women, or girls and boys, do much better in their own environment, with their own gender, away from any sexual pressures or intimidations. When girls are in classes surrounded by only girls, studies show that their confidence level is higher and they take greater risks at working on new areas of learning. Boys, too, show higher success rates in classes with only boys.

This is true, because, as Torah explains, men and women are very different—biologically, psychologically, physiologically and in just about every area. We communicate differently (thus the best seller "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus") and we learn differently. When we are with peers of the same gender we feel less of a need to prove ourselves and we can each learn in a more comfortable environment conducive to academic growth.

This is true with young children but becomes increasingly obvious when they get to teenhood. The pressures on teenagers in mixed gendered schools to become involved in sexual experiences way before they are ready is astounding and evidence enough for the problems of such a system. Add to that the plummeting self-esteem of so many teens (girls especially, but boys as well) and their self-critical body images (sometimes leading to food disorders and other serious illnesses) and you can see how the system is ripe for disaster.

As far as learning to communicate with one another, I guess it comes naturally enough, when the time is right. Built into the human psyche is the attraction that each gender feels to one another. Being a part of the "segregated" orthodox communities, I have never heard this to be a problem. When the time is right, the young man and woman might feel shy at first, but the barriers are quickly broken, if the two are meant for one another, and they quickly learn the necessary social skills.

Chana Weisberg for Chabad.org

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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Lisa Providence, RI September 24, 2017

Orthodox Jewish children learn at home about marital relationships. Reply

Aaron NYC May 27, 2016

some clarification Actually research shows that gender mixing during early years is beneficial. Separating is beneficial starting in adolescence through teen years. Also the research around gender selection during those years find that the benefit is only found in the educational setting. Teens that are in separate educational settings but have other settings that are desegragated, do the best, in general, when it comes to developing social skills. Reply

Kathy Mudge January 4, 2015

But why would this continue on in the real world, after the awkwardness of youth and learning has passed? As in the case of the airline being delayed, I am wondering why full adults still seek segregation. Reply

Jared December 10, 2009

To anonymous from Toronto I'm glad that Chabad.org is liberal enough to post all comments; it really demonstrates that they are not afraid of diverse opinions and views. But sometimes, this freedom leads to malicious and false comments like yours.

Do you have ANY way to corroborate what you write here?

Not only are you dead wrong about your "facts", the truth is that more and more people are coming to see the wisdom and many benefits of single-sex schools. I recently saw a write up on cnn.com about a school that separated boys and girls and saw a very marked rise in both groups’ test scores. Reply

Anonymous August 10, 2017
in response to Jared:

Sadly, they aren't wrong. Abuses happen and communication is so different between us men and women that it may cause frustration in both parts and this causes great difficulties in marriage. Reply

Anonymous Toronto December 10, 2009

Please do some research. I know you orthodox types dont like to admit it but abuse occurs in a significant amount of Jewish marriages (15-25%).

It is largely due to the fact that these young men and women come out of segregated schools, date for a few months and then get married. They have no idea how to communicate with each other or resolve conflicts.

When it doesn't work out, however, the women are trapped. The social stigma of divorce is too high for her to leave an abusive marriage. Reply

kathy jordan north myrtle beach, sc June 16, 2009

you are correct exactly, good interpretation of the Torah right there. I appreciate you standing up for what is right and competent.

I see the need in high school age, before that perhaps, but the disrespect begins as a freshman in high school it is common, well known and each gender needs to learn this skill, we have to teach each other to appreciate their neighbors no matter what their rank and it begins with development of puberty. Reply

Dover Amiti April 26, 2009

too simple The issues are not this simple. How can u live in such denial w/o being aware of the problems our "frum" system creates. It works well for the (naturally?) rigid boy or unattractive girl. Otherwise it can be disastrous. Look out the window. Reply

cr April 3, 2008

First, having gone to co-ed school my whole life, let me say, I wish I had gone to an all-girls' school. There is too much pressure, catfights, drama, etc. And many fall along the way to teen sex, drugs, etc, in order to look good to someone else. To Tarek-don't worry or feel embarrassed that you are 16 and not dating. I did not date in high school either, except once when friends set me up and it lasted a month. It is not worth it; you will probably just find yourself competing with and comparing yourself to your friends and where they're at in their relationships. It is really not worth it, when you should be concentrating on school. Reply

Tarek via chabadaz.com December 1, 2007

Congratulations I am happy to hear that.

I will take this story to heart because sometimes I feel like im the only boy in my school not dating (there is an all girls school right next to ours and we share some classes so it is not very separate). It is nice to hear that you have only dated two people because I am 16 and have dated one, but it doesn't even count lol. All the guys at my school are all dating and stuff like that so it is nice to hear. Reply

Anonymous December 1, 2007

tried both-seperate is better I attended a "modern orthodox" yeshiva high school that was co-ed (including the religious studies) and then I went to an all girls seminary in Israel- and I must say the Israel experience was much better. I learned so much more factually and spiritually, and experienced much more personal growth in an all women's environment than in my co-ed high school environment. Plus, thank G-d, I had had no problem on the dating front -- I am getting married, G-d willing, in three months to the second boy I ever dated, and I do not credit my high school experience -- rather I credit the growth and maturity I attained in seminary. Reply

Tarek via chabadaz.com November 29, 2007

I agree I am in a Jesuit Highschool lol

Not Jewish yet lol, I love this site though. Reply

Anonymous NY November 28, 2007

Not only Orthodox Jewish day schools I am Jewish and I do not necessarily agree with having gender segregation in schools. However, I hate when some people are so ignorant that they act as if Orthodox Jewish day schools (and Conservative ones as well; if I'm not mistaken, the Schechter day schools have gender segregation also) are the only parochial schools that have this practice. Plenty of Catholic and Protestant parochial schools similarly segregate genders.

So stop acting like it's some odd practice exclusive to Judaism, people! :) Reply

Tarek via chabadaz.com November 27, 2007

So True I love reading articles that deal with this subject, because I agree so strongly. Being in an all boys high school I can relate to this strongly. I have 2 classes with girls and this is completely true. Reply

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