No one educational environment is right for every student. From varying learning styles to different interests, education has become an incredibly diverse and customized experience for students. For some children, the best learning environment is one that removes students of the opposite gender from the equation.Research has shown that single-sex education offers a lot of benefits for girls and boys such as girls gaining more confidence, students unlearn gender stereotypes, and boys and girls feel comfortable in untraditional subjects.
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Girls in single-sex schools learn to feel confident about their ideas, and they more readily jump into class discussions when they are not self-conscious. Students in these schools unlearn traditional stereotypes and do not tend to think of roles in terms of gender. All-girls’ and all-boys’ classrooms have a certain relaxed quality born of freedom to express themselves in subjects they would not normally show interest within a co-ed classroom. At the end of the day, a quality education is the most important thing to many people and their families.
Single-sex classrooms have been known to help girls become more confident in almost everything they do. In Carolyn Colletti’s Article on the importance of financial literacy for women recognizes The National Coalition of Girls’ Schools reported that a quarter of the female members of Congress and one-third of all female members of Fortune 100 boards graduated from all-women’s colleges. This stunning statistic might be in part because girls in single-sex schools learn to feel confident about their ideas, and they more eagerly jump into class discussions when they are not self-conscious. Girls become more confident in themselves as students earn higher scores on their College Board and Advanced Placement examinations. In a girls’ school, students are not worried about what boys will think about them, and they shed the traditional idea that girls should be demure or quiet, leaving them with a lifetime of confidence.
Separating boys and girls into two different schools seems to help unlearn gender stereotypes set forth usually by regular co-ed schools. In Laura Harts Academic Journal, her selected research illustrates issues for middle-school girls are often unique to their gender, single-sex education emerges as a possible remedy to these problems. Participant responses consistently showed that 6th grade girls placed in a single-sex classroom found the setting to be more supportive than a traditional mixed-sex classroom. All boys’ schools, boys fill every role whether it’s a traditional role such as the captain of the basketball team or whether it’s an untraditional role such as the editor of the yearbook. There are no stereotypes about which types of roles boys should fill. Similarly, in a girls’ school, girls are the head of every sport and organization and can comfortably take on such untraditional roles as head of the student body or head of the physics club. In this way, students in these schools unlearn traditional stereotypes and do not tend to think of roles in terms of gender.
Boys and girls tend to feel a lot more comfortable in untraditional gender “fitting” subjects. While girls made up less than one-third of the students in courses such as upper-level math and science classes before they tried single-gender classes, now 45 percent to 55 percent of the students in advanced math and science classes are female. Author Josiah Bunting refers to the 1992 study by the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, 48 percent of seniors at all-girl schools said they would pursue math, science, business or engineering degrees in college–nearly double the national average for girls. When girls and boys are separated there is a lot less social pressure to choose or not to choose certain subjects, leaving their minds open to numerous topics they probably haven’t thought very much about.
There are some who say boys mature slower, so potentially girls won’t positively influence them, once they are separated. Nevertheless girls mature faster, so potentially boys won’t hold them back. In Erin Pahlke’s article debating over single-sex schools they mention that through the 1990s, researchers documented biases that girls face in co-ed classrooms, emphasizing the effects of sexual harassment and boys’ tendency to seek and receive most of teachers’ attention . Furthermore, boys’ sexist attitudes and behaviors (e.g., making negative comments about girls’ abilities) have been linked to decreases in girls’ interest in traditionally masculine fields such as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Supporters of single sex schooling believe same sex classrooms can increase girls’ performance and confidence in STEM subjects by removing the negative influence of boys. If the separation from boys helps girls focus more in general, why would parents ever consider sending their child to a co-ed class again? The path of education people walk on, can be a hard decision to make. But always put a child into an environment knowing they will thrive in it, because it would be a disservice to that child and perhaps the world.
The debate of Single-Sex Schools is a heavily overlooked topic, due to the significant impact it could have on future generations and perhaps to one day open up into being a widely used academic path. Looking over the scholarly work presented by may teachers and psychologists, it holds true for some students that joining a single-sex education helps girls gaining more confidence, they may unlearn gender stereotypes, and boys and girls feel more comfortable studying untraditional subjects held from them in co-education. Single-Sex schools are slowly making there way back into the education system and there’s little anyone can do to stop it, no matter how grand the debate. In the end, the student and their parents need to make the decision about which option would be the best fit for their academic and social needs.
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