According to Dr. Leonard Sax, many young men in the United States today lack drive and motivation in pursuing careers, relationships and other important goals—and coeducation early in life is largely to blame. Dr. Oz talks with Dr. Sax, a pediatrician and psychologist in the Washington, D.C., area and founder of the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education, about the underlying causes for underachievement and what he says can help reverse this trend.
Dr. Sax says the prevailing coeducational model in place in most public schools today puts young boys—and girls—at a disadvantage because they are roped into behavior patterns that are not designed for their age and gender. For example, young boys are forced to sit still for long periods of time and are given academic material inappropriate for their developmental stage. The result is that some boys are turned off to academics altogether, he says.
As children get older, Dr. Sax says that gender differences continue to reveal themselves in other ways. For instance, he says most girls grasp subjects such as math and science in a manner that differs from the way boys comprehend them. By using the same teaching methods for both boys and girls, many girls end up falling behind their male counterparts as a result, he says. While Dr. Sax says there are more women enrolled in college today than men, he says fewer women end up pursuing degrees in fields such as engineering, computer science and technology.
Reconsidering expectations based on gender differences may be beneficial to helping young boys—and girls—gain the drive and motivation they need to succeed, Dr. Sax says. By offering single-sex classrooms early on, many lagging students are able to improve their performance. "The boys can be boys, the girls can be girls," he says. "It's a win-win situation."