START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

Do Children Benefit From Single-Gender Classrooms?

Do Children Benefit From Single-Gender Classrooms?

When I was in 7th grade we had a section of our health class titled “sex education.” Along with some requisite reading and homework we had to do to prepare for this section, we also had to be present for two days of lectures on the subject of sex, abstinence, and sexual development. But here is the thing; the boys and girls of my class were separated, presumably out of courtesy to our predicted discomfort. This meant that whatever we, as boys, were learning remained a relative mystery to the girls, and vice versa. The idea was separate but equal education that provided an environment conducive to serious learning and little distraction. Did it work? Does sex education ever work?

Beyond the inherent controversy of sex education programs, the idea of single-sex education, the practice of separating up boys and girls for educational purposes, has been one that has found its adherents as well as it detractors of recent. Seemingly single-sex education is a trend on the rise in the United States with more than 500 public schools in 40 states that offer some single-sex academic classes or, more rarely, are entirely single sex. This movement stems from the belief, touted by Dr Leonard Sax and Michael Gurian, that boys and girls should be taught differently. Recent research has gone to great lengths to call this theory, well, bogus. While gender specific classrooms are nothing new (it used to be the norm back in the day) critics of the practice point out the new logic, as touted by Sax and Gurian, as utterly bunk. An ACLU press release points out the flaws in this theory:

“Sex-segregated classes have been implemented around the country based on the discredited theories of Dr. Leonard Sax and Michael Gurian that boys and girls learn so differently that they need to be educated separately. These theories include the ideas that girls perform poorly under stress, and so should not be timed during exams; boys should be given Nerf baseball bats to hit things to relieve tension; and that boys who like to read, avoid sports and have close female friends should be forced to spend time with ‘normal’ boys.”

A report published in the journal Science claims, “sex-segregated education is deeply misguided and often justified by weak, cherry-picked or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence.” In addition the report, indubiously titled “The Pseudoscience of Single Sex Schooling,” says single-sex education actually harms children by reinforcing strict, stereotypical gender roles, and, in any case, did nothing to improve academic performance. And as The New York Times reported, the strongest argument against single-sex education, set forth by the report, is that it reduces boys and girls opportunities to work together, and reinforces sex stereotypes. “Boys who spend more time with other boys become increasingly aggressive, the article said. Similarly, girls who spend more time with other girls become more sex-typed.

As a semi-objective person, I am having a difficult time disagreeing with this new evidence. I am sure single-sex education works splendidly for some, but once those students move on into a co-ed world, with co-workers of the opposite sex, the experiment would seem to most certainly backfire. Have you had the pleasure/misfortune of single-sex education? If so, how did it impact your studies, education, and socialization in the long run? Do you have objections to single-sex education, or do you feel there is inherent worth in the practice?

Read more: Blogs, Children, Family, Healthy Schools, Love, Parenting at the Crossroads, Sex, Teens, , , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

82 comments

+ add your own
4:11AM PST on Jan 23, 2014

thank you for sharing

7:19AM PDT on Jun 9, 2012

"As Principal Skinner said in Buffy "They're ticking hormonal time bombs"

If I could send you a green star for this quote, I certainly would, Magdalen B. Buffy ftw!

12:17AM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

Thanks for the info

3:46AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Having attended an Ursuline convent school 11-18, I agree with Shannon's comments.
Later teaching in a mixed, comprehensive high school, I found that boys tended to take part more in classes than the girls did, unless for some reason, it was an all girls group. It's not that the girls were intimidated, more that they were very aware of the opposite sex and didn't want to... I dunno..
As Principal Skinner said in Buffy"They're ticking hormonal time bombs"

3:20AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

*continued again. Last one. I talk a lot.

Same sex schools are good for gender stereotypes and people who support gender stereotypes and people who believe that males and females never make friends and we some over-sexed people who always end up wanting to form a relationship with everybody of the opposite gender(so we can't focus on studies.)

For that matter, when I was 14, my crush was the nerdy guy in school who talked only to intelligent girls. Because of him, I studied all the time.. Enough that he talked to me once in my life.

3:18AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

*continued
Since they have no experience with the situation, they will resort to stereotypes. Awful stereotypes. They will pass on these stereotypes to their children.

Yes, there are women who work after studying in single ed schools, but what about those who don't? Are they not children? I find the idea that a whole section of sciety will be completley seggregated to be awful and wrong.

Similarly, boys in all boys schools are more aggressive because the bullies in them are encouraged by the acemedia who claim they asr just boys. For them, it is normal for boys to spend all their time cursing and such, so obviously they will not do anything to stop it. A girl who curses though? These men will grow up thinking that girls never curse, that they are always neat and pretty and they will look at women as a spearate group of people instead of their friends.

Can't you see how horrible it is? It forces gender roles. It is just like that commenter who says that same sex schools aren't bad. her last sentence was that if gender roles were bad, which they aren't..

LOL. Can you see how wrong that is? That women doesn't think there is anything wrong with gender roles because she has no problem corfirming to them. What about others? What about people like me who come into the category of tomboys, and what about LGBTI and fem guys, what about nerdy boys who have no muscles and avoid fights and nerdy women who dream to be super women and kick ass?

Same sex schools are good fo

2:15AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Single gender schools tend to enforce gender stereotypes.We often heard of women talking about how their single sex school helped them be themselves and helped them excel, etc. There is one hidden aspect here. All women who excelled from their same sex schools naturally fulfill all the female stereotypes.

For example, suppose a school teacher says something like "boys are better at math" then it is very easy to say this saying is true if you are bad at math yourself. You can say, "I am bad at maths because I am a girl." This way you are happy and you easily take subjects that "females excel at" without feeling dumb- because it isn't you, baby, it is your gender!
But if you are good at math, then you will find yourself wondering why that is, you will find yourself wondering why their are so many men around you who are bad at it compared to you, you will find yourself realizing that this idea is a myth.

You would never get it in a same gender school. You might be so conditioned that you would unconsciously never push yourself hard over subjects that you feel might by manly.

Women do interact with men in social situations, but many of same sex females end up becoming home makers. (I am not going to talk about how many of them do so, which will I think be majority easily.)
Anyway, these women will wonder their whole lives how men act in academic situations, they will wonder how men act in offices and many other things since it is natural to be curious. Since they have

3:05PM PST on Mar 3, 2012

Interesting.

10:53AM PST on Jan 19, 2012

single sex edu is great for childrens in k-12 this not only open a conversation between girls and boys who are dating as to what was said in each other classes but a chance to debate as to who is more informed or what if any what is the best way to open a debate about sex and what is and is not apporated when dating and unmarriage. Something are better when discuss one on one with the one you might be considering having a relationship with and even better when you have some info giving to you in private away from the individual you are interested in. yes class should be seprate

9:53PM PST on Nov 13, 2011

Boys should have their classes and the girls theirs especially if they are 7th and 8th graders who are not comfortable with their own sexuality yet -

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

There are always people who are allergic or sensitive to some product that the majority can eat. Thi…

I have a street rescue. I adopt many strays, most are starved and/or injured in some way. I have bee…

Thank you but NO QUORN, thank you.

It is too bad that people have degraded to the extent that you can't trust them. Anyone nowadays cou…

Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.