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Reflection of on-line role-play: Single-sex schooling

Although my initial reaction to the idea of single-sex schooling might be characterized as dismissive, after considering the arguments I began to warm up to the idea. My position became more conservative, in the sense of being interested primarily in best practices to yield results that are self-sustaining, and an improvement upon current practices. Instead of dismissing single-sex schooling as something that seemed old-fashioned, I gradually took the position that the focus of education ought to primarily rest in teaching students content-specific material, as well as strategies for cooperative work. The social implications of separating schools according to sex are negligible, as students would have opportunities to interact with students of the opposite sex outside of school. We need to focus on best practices for teaching students, as well as creating social environments that best facilitate learning.

As a moderate supporter of single-sex schooling in an on-line role-play, I attempted to make subtle arguments that we need to avoid knee-jerk reactions that dismiss single-sex schooling. I tried not to be confrontational, and remain objective about the need to remain open to the idea. As of now, I don't know how effective my reasoning was at convincing others of my position. A criticism I have with role-plays is that it facilitates conflict and position-taking, but doesn't necessarily put students in a position where they feel the need to compromise their positions, or consider that they were wrong. I don't know if this is just a cultural thing, in that we learn to defend positions even if that means sacrificing logic. Debate is too often framed as some sort of emotional-cathartic process. In short, I wonder if role-play facilitates meaningful consideration of ideas so much as trying to pick apart your opponent's arguments.

The school board members worked well as relatively objective voices, asking questions to help us consider what would be best for the school. Also, I think that those people playing experts (either pro or con) had the most convincing arguments, as they often based ideas in research.

Comments

I too though the activity was effective, mainly in what it sounds like for you as well, in centralizing the discussion to one place where I could read and contribute a variety of opinions. The anonymity of the roles allowed some normally unvocalized voices and ideas to come out--very effective in the peer pressured setting of middle and high school or perhaps to begin a conversation on a controversial topic.