Russell and Duenes

Differences in the Education of Girls and Boys

with 2 comments

One of my readers asked a question in response to my previous post, wherein I commended an explicitly Christian education to Christian children because only a Christian education will teach children the proper understanding of masculinity and femininity. He asks: “Could list specific examples of the differences you would like to see in the education of girls and boys?”

Let me begin by saying that I was not explicitly calling for different educations for girls and boys, but since we’ve started there, I’ll address it. I think we have done ourselves a huge disservice by eliminating every and all vestige of single-sex education. I could hazzard a guess as to why we’ve done this, but the adamancy with which our educational system forces boys and girls together in almost everything belies an unbiblical belief about boys and girls, namely, that they are essentially the same and must be given everything in virtually the same way. Yet anyone who has raised them knows from common experience that they’re not.

Having worked with both junior high and high school boys, it became painfully obvious to me that sitting boys in classrooms for close to 6 hours a day was a gargantuan mistake. Boys need to be put to manual labor, and they need to be building things and tearing things down, and learning how to work until exhaustion. Sure, this can happen at home, but it ought to be reinforced in the schools. Girls, I would argue, do not generally have a similar need to be out building, constructing, destroying, and the like. This does not mean they should be exempt from practical tasks that take physical effort, but the tasks generally should be different. Yet our public schools don’t believe this because they have, again, swallowed whole the unbiblical notion that boys and girls are the same, and that there is no essential masculinity and femininity with corresponding roles and relationships to go along with it.

Boys need to be educated toward, as John Piper says, “a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s different relationships.” Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, p.36. And girls need to be educated toward “a freeing disposition to affirm, receive and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to women’s differing relationships.” Id. at 46. In order to carry this out, I think both boys and girls need to spend less time sitting in rows in classrooms together. There are countless differing projects that boys and girls could undertake in school which would facilitate such growth in masculinity and femininity.

My main point, however, is that in a Christian school, boys and girls would not be taught that there is a bland “sameness” when it comes to our maleness and femaleness. Rather, they would be taught what Genesis 1-3 actually teaches, namely, that though both men and women equally share the image of God, and are equal in essence before God, there are glorious and God-ordained distinctions between men and women, and these distinctions are not part of our fall into sin. As Christian children are given a Christian education, they will see some of the essential attributes of masculinity and femininity through men and women in the Bible. They will also learn by reading biographies of Christian men and women who exemplified God’s great design in creating us male and female. Boys can be taught rules of etiquette and manners appropriate for boys, and girls can be taught modesty and manners appropriate to girls. What are these, you ask? Well, one need not reinvent the wheel. Go back a couple hundred years and you’ll find a wealth of books on proper manners, modesty and decorum, prudence and wisdom.

I know, it all sounds like a clunky tin drum in our ears. Yet one should ask why this is. My answer would be that, at least in part, we have suffered the loss of an explicitly Christian education, where the Bible, and traditions flowing from the Bible, are taken as rightful models of wisdom and prudence in this area. We’ve jettisoned all that, with the help of the gospel of androgyny preached in the government schools.

Boys should be called into manhood through their education through rituals designed to test and encourage their physical, emotional and spiritual strength. They should also be taught to serve. One of the things I suggested at my old school was that the boys come to our campus one Saturday a month (or it could be a weekday) and do free oil and air filter changes on people’s cars. This would allow boys to serve others in a practical way, while learning a skill and exerting physical effort. This is just one idea.

Girls should be called into womanhood through rituals designed to uphold the beauty and wonder of being those whom God has graciously given the gift of childbearing. They should engage in things which allow them to work and create with their hands and tools, that train them in financial wisdom and prudence, that teach them practical skills that would be helpful toward creating a home in which to bring new life.

None of this means that boys or girls would be deprived of the core subjects such as Math, English, History, Geography and the like.

I think it’s important to say that we are not in the dark on this. Before we began our descent into unbiblical feminism and bogus masculinity, we had many educators and others that understood about what tends toward a truer understanding of masculinity and femininity. I still think the primary task, at the younger ages, is to teach children that there simply is such a thing as masculinity and femininity, and to come to love the reality of it. That is what Christian education can and should do.



Written by Michael Duenes

December 7, 2013 at 11:53 am

Posted in Duenes, Education

2 Responses

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  1. I appreciate your thoughts about getting kids out of desks. That would mean having teachers who can get outside of classrooms, and I’d appreciate that, too. For my own girls, and for youth in general, I would like more education related to real life. Getting their hands dirty, fixing a car, learning financial common sense, and such examples sound great to me.

    As you would guess, I’m in favor of both the girls and the boys having exposure to a variety of learning styles and similar options, and I’m not in favor of going back to teaching customs from 200 years ago. I think boys and girls will sort themselves out when given options, generally, and those who “cross the lines” need to be respected, not shamed or herded the other way. Gender identity and any confusion in children primarily starts at home, as parents help children to discover and be themselves. I’m not worried that my daughters don’t want to be “girlie” or dress in pink, or that they’re buffer than I ever was (thanks to swimming).

    Truly, I don’t want youth herded into androgyny or mindlessly wandering that way. I think the culprit is the loss of relationships in family and community, and (predictably, you might add) the role of religion (hand-in-hand with secularism) compartmentalizing life and making it harder than ever to simply be.

    I would like to see kids in school getting out of the classroom and learning how being and knowledge and action go together. I hope we can agree at least in part on that.

    Andy Gray

    December 7, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    • I think we generally agree on this point, Andy. I would be in favor of a variety of learning styles for boys and girls as well, and getting the out of the classroom would be a great place to begin.

      I wonder, however, why you so easily toss aside “customs from 200 years ago.” Have they nothing to teach you and your daughters? Have our modern notions about what it means to be a girl and woman been unmitigated goods? I’d also be interested to know what you mean by “girlie.” Does it mean liking “pink” and being petite and wearing dresses? Or is there something deeper within the feminine soul which God values and which he wishes to be drawn out of each girl? Something that does not reside within the masculine soul? I agree that gender confusion and identity begins at home, and that should be the primary training ground. But if a mother and father are seeking to inculcate true femininity in their daughter(s), and then having that contradicted by just about everything, explicitly and implicitly, by the public schools, then I think the public schools are not the right place for Christian children. That was my original point: femininity and masculinity are “politically incorrect” terms in public schools, and so confusion reigns.


      russell and duenes

      December 8, 2013 at 10:21 am

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