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1 Venice Winchester Malcolm Campbell English 1102 0ct 30, 2013

Single Sex Education Vs. Coeducational: Do children learn better in an all girls and all boys class setting or co-educational?

Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way. This quote taken from George Evans, an American politician, shows that all children are capable of learning. Sometimes it just takes the parent being pro-active and choosing a good learning environment for their child. Parents have to make a decision whether or not the school will offer their child high educational standards, will it offer an enriched academic experience, and does the school have a reputation for academic excellence? Then comes the question whether or not their child will thrive in an all girls and all boys class setting or a co-educational setting? Different learning environments include private or public, and these schools are then separated into co-educational, boys only, or girls only schools. But further research is conducted throughout this paper to determine whether or not boys and girls should be taught separately, and which class setting would further boost academic success. In my opinion, I think coeducational is the better choice, and in this research paper I plan to prove that point.

2 Single sex education is where males or females attend a school exclusively for individuals of the same sex. Whereas coeducational is where males and females are mixed together in school, and theres no separation. What works best for some students may not be whats best for others. Some students not only learn at different rates, they also learn in different ways. Debra Clarke, an art teacher at Sims Elementary School located in Austin Texas supports the idea of an all girls school stating It helps girls become stronger and more independent without boys to distract them. (O'Rourke, Ciara) This being true, boys can be a distraction in the class. They learn more effectively when theyre allowed to get up and move. They have to jump up to answer a question, rather than raising a hand. On the other hand girls learn better when theyre allowed to make connections. Theyd rather get together and compare notes, rather than competing in the classroom. Scientist in the late 20th century believed that boys and girls brains were different, and required a different teaching style. A team of neuroscientists in 2007 from the National Institute of Mental Health conducted a study and found very little difference between the male and females brain when it came to education and learning styles. (Blake, Chris, and Demand Media) In relation to the study above, I found another study where researchers tested two groups of undergraduate students of both sexes, all skilled math students. Before taking the test, one of the groups was informed that women usually didn't do as well on the test as men do. The women in the group not informed of this stereotype performed just as well as the men. The women informed of the negative assumption scored significantly lower than the men. (Matthiessen, Connie) This study shows that women are intimidated by men. Before taking the test and hearing such

3 negative feedback gave them no motivation to do well. On the other hand, those who werent told such negative things did just as good as the men. When it comes to single sexed schools, are they more or less effective than coeducational schools in terms of academic accomplishments, student adaptation, and socioemotional development? While researching, I found that having a single sex classroom creates opportunities that do not exist in a coeducation classroom. Teachers are taught and trained on what strategies to use in an all boys, and all girls classroom that wouldnt work as well in a coeducational class. At first glance, this may seem like a good idea, but digging further into research I found that single sex classrooms could be harmful in the long run. For instance, the more time that male and female students spend apart, the more the stereotypes about the sexes are reinforced. Separating the two sexes put the child into a burden because the child will fail to learn how to work with the opposite sex. (ASU News) A child needs to be able to form a friendship, communicate and work with the opposite sex. Other disadvantages of a single sex education are the costs of training the teachers to teach girls and boys differently, and trying to find teachers who will teach single sex classrooms. (ASU News) Some teachers are not willing to go through with the training required to teach single sexed classes. It will take up an excessive amount of time, and it will be hard trying to find teachers who would want to teach single sexed classes. Dr. Edward Clarke, a professor at Harvard University, believed that a higher education for girls was unhealthy and unnatural. But Dr. Clarke wasnt the only professor at Harvard who thought this way. Dr. Lawrence H. Summers explained why there are very few women holding senior academic positions in math, physics, engineering, and

4 technology. He stated, Women may be less willing to put in the long hours required to achieve top positions in those fields. Then he went on to suggest that, Maybe women just arent cut out for the hard sciences that maybe there are innate differences between male and female brains which render most women incapable of doing really tough math. (Sax, Leonard) In making this comment, Leonard wants us to believe that women are basically lazy, and possibly tries to find the easy way out. While some parents may think its necessary for their child to have a single sex education, a study looked at buddy up time, when students are paired together to work in groups in the classroom. One boy who said he didnt like girls was surprised to find out his female buddy wasnt too different from him and they became good friends. The boy learned that there are many more similarities between the sexes than differences according to the source. (ASU News) Its almost uncertain to know what you like unless youve tried or experienced it. The boy above maybe never had the opportunity to talk with a girl until put he was put into the situation in class, an he realized that girls were similar to boys. Most studies done on whether single sex education or coeducation was better mainly focused on grades and test scores. In all girls schools, they were more likely to study advanced math, computer science, and physics. In an all boys school, they were more likely studying English, art, foreign languages, music, and drama. (Blake, Chris, and Demand Media) This source points out that the girls were more likely to learn subjects that were of more interest to boys, and vice versa. The question what are the advantages of co-educational vs. single sex is to be discussed. Research shows that parents of students attending co-educational schools

5 believe that a co-ed learning environment offers many benefits. In making this comment, a national survey conducted in 20052006 reveals that 79% of Canadian parents with children in co-ed schools agree that these schools better reflect the diversity of our society and 79% believe they better prepare students to eventually enter the workforce, and 71% agree that these students are better prepared to succeed in post-secondary education. (McLean, Guy) Studies like these shed new light on how students at co-ed schools will feel more comfortable about who they are and have a healthy and positive attitude. In the same study, as mentioned above, 84% of students attending co-ed schools responded that they feel confident expressing their views in the presence of members of the opposite sex. (McLean, Guy) Having the two sexes mixed together in the classroom helps to boost confidence levels in the students so that they feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions. Before deciding an education for your child, its best to get the facts. The essence of co-educational arguments says that co-ed students are more likely than students of single-sex schools to agree that their peers respect members of the opposite sex. 80% of students at co-ed schools indicate that they make friends easily with the same sex and 72% with those of the opposite sex. On the other hand, 58% of students attending single sex schools reported making friends with the opposite sex. (McLean, Guy) As I see it, attending a co-ed school you have the best of both worlds. Students are able to participate in activities with the opposite sex and also have the choice of participating in activities with the same sex in a coeducational environment. On the other hand, students at a single sex school participate in activities with the same sex, and theres no diversity.

6 Although previous research states girls at single sex schools are more likely than those at co-ed schools to participate in class discussions, 89% of girls in co-ed schools ask questions or contribute to class discussions compared to 87% of girls attending single-sex schools. But both environments are almost equal, 66% coed and 67% single sex, when it comes to voicing their opinion regardless of peer approval. (McLean, Guy) The point made here is regardless of what environment a student is in; theyll still feel comfortable speaking out in front of the class, contributing to class their own opinions, ideas, and feedback. Researchers found that single sex classroom format was effective in boosting boys performance especially in English and foreign languages, and improving girls performance in math and science. (Single-Sex vs. Coed: The Evidence) But other research states that girls abilities in math and science are not affected by single sex classrooms or coed, both environments agree with the statement I get good marks in science and math is one of my best subjects. (ASU News) This source point is that it doesnt matter if a student is in a co-ed environment; it will not reduce their learning capabilities. The student will still learn the required material for their grade level. According to one source, research indicates that boys in a co-ed environment are as likely to be engaged in learning as boys in a single-sex environment. But, studying in a co-ed setting allows boys to become comfortable voicing opinions and ideas when girls are present. In this environment, they learn how to interact with and gain respect for female classmates. (McLean, Guy) I feel that having a co-ed classroom will give girls and boys the opportunity to learn from each other socially and academically. Being in a co-ed environment will prepare the student for real-world experiences and situations. Co-

7 educational schools offer students the opportunity to exchange a broad range of opinions and viewpoints with their peers since the classrooms are mixed. Attending a co-educational school prepares students in the 21st century for an educational environment that is reflective of todays society (McLean, Guy) In the end co-educational is the better choice. It provides a diverse student body that reflects both genders, it prepares your child for real-world experiences and situations, theyre exposed to diverse values and lifestyles, it boosts their confidence in the classroom, its a good learning and social environment, and your child will have a wonderful academic experience.

8 Blake, Chris, and Demand Media. "The Advantages of a Coed High School." Everyday Life. Global Post, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2013. Matthiessen, Connie. "Girls' and Boys' Brains: How Different Are They?" GreatSchools. Great Schools, n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. McLean, Guy, David Howie, and Catherine Raafluab. "Selecting an Independent School The Benefits of the Co-educational Environment." N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2013 O'Rourke, Ciara. "All-girls, All-boys Middle Schools." Parents Hear Austin School District Proposal for All-girls, All-b. Statesman, 19 Nov. 2011. Web. 24 Sept. 2013. "Researchers: Coed Schools Provide Societal Benefits over Single-sex Classes | ASU News." ASU News. N.p., 4 May 2011. Web. 26 Oct. 2013. Sax, Leonard. "Science, Computers, and Gender Equity." Science, Computers, and Gender Equity. LA Times, 2005. Web. 24 Sept. 2013.