A Look at Single Sex Classrooms

A Look at Single Sex Classrooms A group of boys studies at one table while a group of girls studies at the other at their school library.

The boys in veteran teacher Aba Wallace’s first grade class at South Kilbourne Elementary in Columbia, South Carolina, are learning to spell the word ‘air.’

“Let me hear you say it,” she says. Wallace speaks in an authoritative, loud voice, a marked contrast to her delicate frame, as she walks among the desks in the chilly room on a clear day last December. Though some limbs flail about for no obvious reason, every six-year-old’s eyes are glued to her.

“I didn’t hear you.” Her voice rises. “Use those books!”

All fifteen boys pick up their textbooks and thump their diminutive desks as they yell out each letter in unison.


“ I!”

“ R!”

The volume is startling.

“Get up and stand behind those chairs,” she commands, finger pointed upward. “Now, stomp it!” The boys stamp their feet, one time for each letter.

“Now, clap it!” They comply.

“Run it!” She demonstrates by jogging in place. The boys jog and spell at the same time.

“Gentlemen, take your seats. Well done.” They scramble to their seats. Saxophone music from a computer in the classroom, drowned out a moment ago by this call-and-response, suddenly seems loud.

Down the hall, the girls in Carol Anderson’s second grade classroom are sitting in groups of three and four. The lights are lower, the thermostat toasty. Only quiet whispers permeate the calm. Anderson perches in a chair at the head of the class, writing sentences on an LCD projector with a blank in the middle for the girls to fill in from a list of vocabulary words. Her students push their colorful pencils topped with thick, spongy erasers across their tablets.

“Raise your hands when you have the answer,” she says, nearly monotone. All students thrust their hands in the air at once.

“Give me a sentence using the word ‘source’.” Hands wave, eager for recognition.

“Where did you get your source for your project,” says a pigtailed girl, quietly confident.

“Very good.” Calmly, almost melodically, Anderson announces that it’s time to leave for extra help with reading. A small group of girls stand and shuffle from the room. Aside from the scrapping of the chairs, they make little noise filing out into the hall. The others resume the vocabulary lesson without missing a beat. Anderson’s voice never fluctuates more than a few decibels. The sound of pages turning in a reporter’s notebook seems a violation of the serenity.

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you the newsletter each week, and we may also send you occasional special offers from Reader's Digest. For more information please read our privacy policy.

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.

From clientsfromhell.net

Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.

Fields marked with an * are required
Foods That Harm Foods That HealWant a Free eBook?
FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL offers important information about the role diet plays in the struggle against heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other serious illnesses. Answer the question below to receive your FREE digital eBook.

Someone in my household experiences the following conditions:

Send me a link to download FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL:
By clicking below, I agree to the Trusted Media Brands Privacy Policy