2006_2_twins2.jpg The New York Times has a good article about a new trend in education-- keeping sets of twins in the same class through elementary school. This goes against conventional educational wisdom that twins learn better if they are kept in separate classes. Turns out that as usual, the conventional wisdom is wrong-- separating twins just makes them anxious, and that leads to poorer performance:

When Heather Beauchamp, an associate professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Potsdam, reviewed literature on twins three years ago, she found that opinions regarding the advantages of separating them were based on perception rather than data, of which there has been very little.

Since her review, two studies — one in the Netherlands and another, a joint project of the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College in London and the University of Wisconsin, that compared 878 pairs of twins from ages 5 to 7 — found that twins separated early were observed to be more anxious and emotionally distressed than those who remained in the same class.

This was especially true for identical twins, the British-American study noted. That study also found that twins separated later had lower reading scores than those kept in the same classroom.

Amen to that-- as some of you know, we're one half of a pair of twins. We were cruelly separated from our twin sister in second grade, and that led to nothing but trouble. No one understood the secret language we insisted on continuing to speak, and all the non-twin children seemed oddly unpaired. Years and years of unhappiness ensued! In fact, that's probably the reason we insist on speaking the plural tense even now.