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Single-Sex Schools

| 18 Comments

Diana Meehan, author of Learning Like a Girl: Educating Our Daughters in Schools of Their Own, argues that teaching is easier and more effective in a single-sex school. Co-founder of the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles, Meehan says girls and boys have different learning styles and needs and are best taught in environments where those differences can be honored and built on. "Dedicated, committed teachers develop techniques to reach both male and female students, if provided the circumstances, the resources, and the encouragement to do so," Meehan said.

What do you think? Should schools be separated by sex? Should coed teachers teach to boys and girls differently?


18 Comments

Yes, I believe it is a good idea to teach them separated. I also recognized that socialization with opposite sex is important, and that should be taking into consideration as well.

On many levels I agree with single sex schooling as long as we understand that not all boys and not all girls 'think' along gender lines. Also, not all boys and not all girls will identify as heterosexual or by assigned gender. Learning theory now tells us that up to 20% of each gender 'thinks' like the other gender, irregardless of sexual orientation. My point is that we need to take care that we are careful about assumptions about boys' or girls' interests, aptitudes and skills. Rigid gender stereotyping could do more damage to the child who already feels 'different' than it helps him or her. This subject is worthy of a broad-based and thoughtful debate.

While we can probably agree that boys and girls develop differently, and often experience school in quite different ways, I believe all students should be programmed for in such a way that we recognize their individual learning styles. So, while for some students being in a single sex school would meet their needs; for others this would not necessarily meet their needs. We in education constantly swing with fads. Rather than incorporating all that we know with all that we subsequently learn, we throw out the old and just adopt the new strategy. Often the old methods come back and around we go again. There is no one way that works for all children, whether we refer to gender, handicapping condition, grade level, or age, etc. We have been talking about this in special education for over 30 years, and in regular education for some time as well. It seems to me that the time has certainly come when we all recognize that each individual learns in a unique way and that we have the tools available to meet those individual learning styles whether in single sex, coed, special or regular ed classrooms. It takes time at the front end to prepare to meet this challenge, but it is not overwhelming or insurmountable. Rather it is imperative that we do this, for the educational sake of all of our students.

Spent a year teaching classes of just all boys and all girls. And although it worked out just fine, it seemed unnatural, and I opted not to repeat the experience. There are very few real world settings where the sexes are separated, and, since one of education's goals is to prepare kids to function well as social beings in society, I'll keep with my coed ways.

Carol Josel, Learning Specialist
www.schoolwisebooks.com

How much clearer do we need to be that separate can never be equal? If “experts” claim boys and girls learn “differently” (this is a hetero-normative assumption from the get-go), what is to stop "experts" begin to try to convince that ethnicities and races learn differently? This type of thinking is ancient and frankly, dangerous. When we teach, we need to teach skills, contextualized and relevant to the skills EVERY citizen needs to be a healthy contributor to our democracy. Let us get over this silliness that there are "learning styles" we must coddle. While it is important to recognize differences among our students and make sure we work with those differences in teaching those skills, we have to stop trying to divide students among those differences. And all of our students are equally entitled to access to learning those skills, regardless of how “experts” choose to classify them.

This has been and I think, still is, a good idea. As a high school teacher you realize very quickly that the students think more about the opposite sex than their studies. While I enjoy having both girls and boys in my classroom, I can still see the importance of separated teaching. Some have said it may be just a fad and I really hate fads but this type of teaching is not a fad. It has been done in the past and I think it was a good idea then and a good idea now, right along with student uniforms.

Having been schooled in a co-institutional vs the traditional co-educational setting, I believe that the focus on school work takes priority over what do I wear with my uniform and dealing with social issues. It works! There is nothing that states that the campus cannot be mixed but keep the classroom free from teen hormones raging. Part of educating our teens today is how to positively respond to their peers. Education is well rounded when we look at the whole child.

I read the article expecting to find a compelling argument for the advancement of single-gender education. What I read was a man-bashing whine about how girls are subjugated in the classroom by wickedly-pushy males.

How Sad!!

20 years in public education - in the classroom and in adminsitration - has revealed to me a much different scenario; and a much different argument in favor of the author's contention. I support single-gender education, however, not for the same reasons as the author.

Most of the schools that I have worked in, worked with, and worked around have hardly been bastions of mysongeny. In fact, one may be tempted to make the opposite claim.

-- Boys are 4x more likely to get suspended from school than girls - twice as likely as even for the same offense. Some rules - like verbal sexual harrassment - seem to be made ONLY to apply to boys.

-- The dominant pedagogical methodologies, in most educational programs, overwhemingly cater to female learning styles. Sit & Get; Heavy emphasis on text and creative arts over problem-solving, designing and constructing; Lack of movement; Fractured curricula, etc (The most notable exceptions occur in the US Military - arguably the largest educational program on earth).

-- As a result, girls have higher GPA's - nearly 20% higher, across the country and across all demographic profiles - than boys, despite the fact that males slightly outperform females on standardized tests of all ilks.

-- Go to nearly any HS or Jr HS in the country and look at whose on the debate team, student government, class officers, valedictorians and salutatorians...Girls outnumber boys dramatically.

-- Boys are twice as likely to drop out of school and three times as likely to be placed in special education as girls.

-- Females now outnumber males in college enrollment by nearly 40%, even though the college graduation rates remain much closer - about 5% more women.

-- When questioned, most teachers will tell you that a significant portion of their grade structure is based on 'soft skills' like compliance, homework completion and demeanor. As a principal, I've seen this bias alone account for up 75% of the differences in classroom grades given by individual teachers, when accounting for gender differences.

But it's hard to teach boys!! They are more likely to intellectually challenge you in class. They are more likely to be restless and want to engage the curriculum in a tactile manner. They are less likely to do homework - especially if that homework is of little meaning to them.

Unfortunately, male employment participation in the educational enterprise in America is at a 40 year low! At a time when we need more male role models, and more men that understand the differences in learning for boys, 75% of certified public school employees are female. And, that number is growing.

There are a lot of reasons for that - which have little primacy in this discussion. Suffice it to say that there are innumerable elementary schools - and many middle schools - across the country, where the only male that walks in the building each day for work is the custodian.

Even if you WANT TO take the author's claim at face value, you have to admit it's gotta be pretty hard for those male janitors to screw up all those girls every day - especially when the female teachers and female administrators are working so hard to undo the wicked bias those girls face all day long!

We do need single-gender classrooms for a portion of our children (Note: I do not believe that all children would flourish under that structure - only a portion). However, it's not because the girls are so oppressed.

It's because the boys are so neglected and the system is more-and-more being stacked against them.

Let the debate begin!!

Hi Diana Meehan,

My hope is that this topic contribute to shed light on certain practices in Education instead of promoting a personal view.

I was educated at a single-sex catholic school(elementary and secondary, and yet I don't want to promote that view. Single sex education has always served religious and political purposes. While there are benefits associated to it, there are drawbacks as well. To opt for single-sex school requires a clear understanding of its consequences. We must have clear answers to the disadvantages that come with it. One of those drawbacks is the learner's choice or preference of the educational setting. If a learner is placed in an un-wanted and unwelcome setting, you can be certain that the results will be negative compared to ones expectations.
Previous studies (Nowell 1997 & Coley 2001) confirmed that gender and race have little or no effect at all on learning and achievement. At the undergraduate level, however, blacks and Hispanics have been noticed for falling behind their female counterparts in mathematics course enrollment. A thorough literature review revealed that no attention had been focused on how ethnicity could impact learning and achievement. Therefore, I took the opportunity to venture in this pretty unexplored area, using the ethnographic research design (Ongoing study).
I wanted to use the ‘grounded theory’ tradition in this research study but I rejected it. The rejection stemmed from the fact that no data from the available literature exist at this time to support my assumptions about the potential impacts of ethnicity on achievement. The present study is rather exploratory in nature and design.

Single-sex Education you say?
There are a score of problems that we will never solve as long as we want to be politically correct. By the way Megan, the concept of Democracy is an illusion, at least in educational settings, since the people (learners) don't have a say in policy making--curricular decisions.
As many of you in here contend that boys learn differently than girls:
1)How come gender has no effect on performance?
2)What is the true purpose of eduction, since learning styles are so important?
3)Can someone belonging to Mode 1 ever function in Mode 2, 3, or 4?
I am pretty ignorant when it comes to that. Please, provide me with some answers.
4)What does it mean to be Self-actualized?
Please, somebody help me! (Li'll Richard):{)


---Coley, R. (2001). Differences in the gender gap: Comparisons across racial/ethnic
groups in education and work. Princeton: Educational Testing Service, Policy
Information Center. Available: http://www.ets.org/research/pic
---Willingham, W. W., & Cole, N. S. (1997). Gender and fair assessment. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. (ED 416 293)

I keep seeing all this research about girls being devalued. I've been teaching for 19 years and I can't think of the last time we had a boy who was valedictorian or received my departmental award for biology. We've had boys do well, but many, and I would dare to say most (I haven't gathered any data) are girls. Is it the urban areas where these trends occur? I am in a rural area, but we have 1300 students in our school.

I am glad that this topic is out in the open. I believe if education is the goal, we should teach the students in the best environment. I have seen how seperating the sexes has been very effective. I work in one class with fifteen young men, and it is such a benefit to have them engaged in conversation and open to many discussions they would not be able to have in a mixed sex classroom. At the elementary level I see interest in the opposite sex disrupt learning as early as first grade. It is an effective strategy and encourage the separation.

I have spent a lot of time looking at single-sex versus co-education. I am in charge of admissions at a private school in an area in which there are both co-ed and single-sex schools from which to choose. Here is my experience: there is no conclusive research or evidence (and I have looked for it) that can definitively state that one form is better than the other. Most evidence is anecdotal, because it would be impossible to know how any particular student would have done in a different environment. When people take a position, they usually begin with their conclusion and find "evidence" that supports it. The bottom line is that every student is different, every student is an individual. The choice of school should be based on where the child feels most comfortable. A student who wants to learn in a single-sex environment will do better in that environment, and a student who wants to be in a co-ed school should go to a co-ed school. I have had parents beg me to take their child as a transfer because they are so unhappy at another school, and we have had kids leave because we were not the right school for them. It goes both ways because not every kid is the same. There are advantages and disadvantages at single-sex schools, as well as advantages and disadvantages at co-ed schools. To say that girls do better in co-ed or boys do better in single-sex, etc. is someone's opinion, not a fact. The true issue is not where girls or boys do better, but where YOUR girl will do better or YOUR boy will do better. I have my opinions about which is better. However, my purpose here is not give an opinion, but to point out that everything about this issue is an opinion.

Send to Al for the boys school. How about one for the girls?????

I THINK THEIR ARE MANY OPINIONS REGUARDING THIS TOPIC. I FEEL THEIR ARE MANY ADVANTAGES REGUARDING CO-ED SCHOOL. IN SOCIATY WE HAVE TO WORK IN THE SAME WORK FORCE. WE APPLY FOR POSITIONS IN THE WORK FORCE. CO-ED SCHOOLS
HELP USE DEAL WITH THE DIFFERNCES IN OWER GENDERS, ALSO THEIR ARE GOOD QUALITIES IN SEPERATE BOYS AND GIRLS SCHOOLS LIKE INDIVIDUAL TEACHING IN EDUCATION. GIRLS TEND TO DO BETTER THEN EDUCATIONAL WISE THEN BOYS WITH AN ALL GIRLS SCHOOL AS WELL AS BOYS BUT IN THE REAL WORLD WE HAVE TO INCORPERATE OWER INDIVIDUALITIES AS ONE GROUP.I FEEL IT DEPENDCE ON THE INDIVIDUAL CHILD OR PARENT. IF THEY FEEL THAT A GOOD EDUCATION IS BENEFITUAL FOR AN ALL BOYS OR GIRLS THEN LET IT BE SO. I DO NOT FEEL THERE IS A WRONG OR RIGHT SOLUTION, BUT WHICH ONE IF BEST FOR YOU.

I have bben at a single-sex school all my life and i wish that i had gone to a co-ed school because it's just to hard to handle all girls. As mch as i love my friends and it will be hard to leave it is for the better and it will be more fun!

i need to learn about sweet sex and the styles.is there any picture that i can see and learn am poor in sex.

i want to chat with girls that like sex

lololololololol

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