Don't jump on me just because of the title; you'll see, by the end you'll be nodding your head in agreement.
I attended a day school (Hebrew Academy of Long Beach) which had single-sex classes from first grade and up, although the boys and girls were in the same building and shared lunch and recess periods. I gather that this was more or less normal for "Modern Orthodoxy" in the US in that period, the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
Today, I usually see two more extreme approaches: The militantly segregated, separate-buildings single-sex approach, and the militantly mixed, put ‘em together and stir ‘em up and see what happens approached. (It seems to me that this is consistent with much of today’s religious ideology; the middle seems incapable of holding its ground.)
I have generally been firmly on both sides of the fence on this issue. I see the scholastic and religious benefit in separating the kids. I also see the humanizing effect of keeping them together, particularly as it influences the boys.
Yesterday, though, I heard the best argument yet for separating the groups: Boys are better off not understanding girls. If separating them will help confuse the boys as to what the girls think, that will be all the better.
This lesson came from the following event: My six year old daughter told my wife (the esteemed Rebbetzin), “I’ve decided I’m not going to marry X-classmate after all. Instead, I’m going to marry Y-classmate, because he’s serious but he also knows how to have fun, and I think that would be good for me.”
Yes, she’s six years old.
If I had known, as a kid, that this sort of thing was going through girls’ heads… I would have run as far as I could in the opposite direction, and then some. I am very glad that I had no clue at all what the XX’s were thinking.
So, please, keep the boys and girls separate; it’s better for the boys’ sanity.