Hjalli Model in "An Equal Difference"

Excerpted from An Equal Difference published 2016 London ISBN: 978-0-9954856-0-0

"The Hjalli model is mostly known for single-sex classes and for trying to liberate children from traditional gender roles and stereotypical behaviours. Children at Hjalli schools are encouraged to express all human qualities, in the belief that every child should have every avenue open to them, regardless of their gender. Many people, even in Iceland, shut down at the mention of single-sex education. It seems counter-productive to equality but it isn’t. The classes are segregated for intelligent reasons, and all the children play together during breaks.

The war of the sexes begins at an early age. Generalised differences between boys and girls can be the source of early conflict and can easily develop into confidence issues. Girls tend to develop their verbal and reasoning abilities earlier, and boys tend to develop their motor skills earlier. They can use these advantages to intimidate each other. Single-sex classes create an environment in which children can learn and grow more confident without cross-sex competition. Confidence is essential for learning and health. When boys or girls are not naturally inclined to, say, speak in front of an audience or show empathy to a classmate, they are given the opportunity to learn these behaviours away from the watchful, often critical, eyes of the opposite sex."

-G.S. Motola, An Equal Difference