Separate and unequal recess policies

I’ve been thinking about how different my school days were in comparison to my current students. How’s this for one:

Growing up, the concept of recess was completely different than it is today. For example, my friends and I enjoyed recess up until 7th grade, as opposed to my students, who don’t see a minute of recess past elementary school.

But even more shocking, boys and girls during my school days were never on the same playground. Except for perhaps kindergarten, there were separate playgrounds for boys and girls throughout elementary and middle school.

Think about the implications of this arrangement. As a child, I rarely, if ever, played with girls.

This probably explains a lot, huh?

But our middle school playground was even more bizarre. Imagine a large rectangle of blacktop, adjacent to a red-brick school, divided in half by a thick, white line.

Girls on one side, boys on the other.

I can still recall chatting with Lisa Bourgery across the white line as a sixth grader and getting reprimanded by Mrs. Schultz for inadvertently stepping into the girl’s playground in the midst of our conversation.

But it gets even stranger.

Opposite the school, along the backside of the black top, was an almost equally large stretch of dirty and grass, assigned only to the boys for their football and soccer games. This meant that the boys had almost twice the space as the girls to play, including the only patches of actual dirt and grass, as well as access to a river that ran alongside the school, in which I can remember getting my feet wet on several occasions.

Just imagine: For my entire childhood, boys and girls in my school were separated by gender on an unequally distributed piece of land, and children were allowed to play in relatively deep and swiftly flowing streams of water.

I understand that opinions, ideas, and methods change with time, but what in hell were these teachers thinking?