Twofold

The singular world of twins and twin studies

Twins in the Classroom

Should twins be put in the same or separate classrooms?

Same or Separate Classes?

At the start of each school year I receive requests from a good number of unhappy parents whose young twins are being placed in separate classrooms. Parents say that despite explaining to school administrators that their twin children work well together, enjoy each other's company and/or do not wish to enter a new situation on their own, school officials remain unsympathetic. Their reasoning is unusually that twins kept together will fail to develop a sense of individuality. Therefore, I was gratified that parents in Minnesota took it upon themselves to have this policy changed. They did so by engaging the interest and support of a state senator and his legislative assistant who were also parents of twins. The outcome was a new bill that passed unanimously through the Minnesota House (130-0) and Senate (64-0). Since then many other states have passed, or are trying to pass similar legislation; see twinslaw.com.

I firmly believe that there should be no single school placement policy for twins, just as there is no single placement policy for non -twins. Interestingly, research shows that when non-twins attend school for the first time with friends, they are more independent and more engaged in activities. No one is concerned that these children will not develop a sense of individuality. There are many options that teachers can exercise if twins stay together, such as having them work in separate groups or sit at separate tables. Often they just need to be aware of where the other one is. This is more common among identical then fraternal twins, but can be true of twins of any type.

I have been a consultant on a number of cases involving identical twins wrongly accused of cheating. Identical twins think alike and process information alike, so when they deliver tests with similar answers, there may be suspicions of cheating on the part of their teachers and professors. This is wrong, as the research shows. However, I would suggest that when twins are in the same class that they sit far apart to avoid even an appearance, of collaboration. More on this topic can be found in the journal TWIN RESEARCH AND HUMAN GENETICS.

On a new topic-my new book about switched at birth twins and the legal and psychological consequences of this unfortunate event in now available. It is called SOMEONE ELSE'S TWIN. Please enjoy it!

Nancy L. Segal, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Twin Studies Center, at California State University, Fullerton.

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