By Cal Widdall
A top Shanghai school has been given the green light to initiate the city’s first two all-boys classes as the new school year begins this September. The pilot programme was designed ostensibly to tackle a ‘masculinity crisis’ in mainland education and will involve survival training as well as playing with and repairing digital gadgets. Other lesson suggestions (which may or may not have come from ourselves) include shed ownership and penis helicoptering.
Shanghai No. 8 Senior High School headmaster, and all-round man’s man, Lu Jinsheng originally submitted a proposal (possibly written with the blood of his enemies) to turn his entire school into an all-boys institution, but has only secured approval for two pilot classes of 60 male students.
Lu believes that sex-segregated schools will tackle the issue of boys underachieving academically, an idea which is not limited to China. He announced, in his booming, masculine voice, that this problem was rooted in the tendency of girls to be more expressive, disciplined and obedient, whilst boys are less focused and more rebellious. His answer to this dilemma? “Lock them up” and give them “specially designed teaching.”
The scheme has been met with resistance from some, who have labelled it as an act of discrimination. Professor Wu Zunmin, from East China Normal University, is one such critic and has lambasted the idea of all-boys schools or classes as “nonsense”.
Wu said that having boys and girls in the same school was progressive and there was no reason to isolate them. He also disputed the existence of a ‘masculinity crisis’, “Some boys talk in a girlish way or don’t appear manly and strong. But the issue is not serious.”
So it seems, for now at least, the pubescent boys of Shanghai have a choice to make. Gadgets and survival skills, or girls?