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1 Venice Winchester Malcolm Campbell English 1102 December 4, 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? Although, some people say that it is more beneficial for boys and girls to study together, there is an opposite opinion that each gender should be educated in separate schools. In this essay, both of these viewpoints will be discussed. First, to argue for letting boys and girls go to mixed schools, many people say that it will make both genders mingle with each other and have good behavior when being in front of the other. For example, a female student in a mixed school would not feel shy or embarrassed, but instead have confidence when having a conversation with a male

2 student. The experiences they have when studying together in the same school will be an advantage for them when they start working since both sexes will be working together in the same environment. It is easy to see why the idea of boys and girls attending mixed schools would be a benefit. However, the critics of the idea of mixed schools argue that putting both boys and girls into one school will cause some negativity. For one, it could be that the students of the opposite sex may distract the students. This is because, some students might, at a certain age, start to have a special feeling or love towards their classmates and cause them not to focus on studying and get bad academic results. This is why the argument for single sex classrooms is in effect. One mother whose daughter attended an all girls school says I feel that the single gender environment has given her a level of confidence and informed interest in math and science that she may not have had otherwise (Lewin, Tamar) This shows that having the choice of being in an all girls classroom without the presence of guys, she didnt feel like she had to compete with anyone. However, what works best for some students may not be what are 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 their hand. On the

3 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 men intimidate women. Before taking the test and hearing such 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. Most studies done on whether single sex education or coeducation was better mainly focused on grades and test scores But one study done in England studied the effect of school size and school type on academic performance in single sex and coed classrooms. They found that both boys and girls did significantly better in single sex schools than in coed. The girls who were seniors in High School did better in single sex schools than in coed, and the benefits for boys in single sex schools were more geared towards boys at the lower end of the ability scale. For higher achieving boys there was no significant effect of school type on performance. (SITE 1) This study showed that the

4 girls in high school, grades 9th through 12th , benefit more from single sex classrooms than males in high school. Other evidence suggests that single-sex education is most effective for boys in kindergarten and elementary school Another study done by Professor Analia Schlosser, an economist at Eitan Berglas School of Economics found that elementary school coed classrooms with a majority of female students showed increased academic performance for both boys and girls. In high school, the classrooms with the best academic achievement were consistently those that had a higher percentage of girls. (Strange, Vicki, and Ann Oakley) This study theorizes that a higher percentage of girls lowers the amount of classroom disruption and creates a better relationship between all students and the teacher. 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. When it comes to the question whether or not single sex education is more or less effective than co-educational 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

5 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. 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 he was put into the situation in class; and he realized that girls were similar to boys. Research shows that parents of students attending co-educational schools believe that a co-ed learning environment offers many benefits. In making this comment, a

6 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. 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. Coeducational schools offer students the opportunity to exchange a broad range of opinions and viewpoints with their peers since the classrooms are mixed. 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

7 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. 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. In the end, the choice is something that the parents and children must weigh out themselves. The parent just has to sit with the child and come to the conclusion whether or not the child could benefit from a single sex or coed classroom setting. They have to look at the plus and minus points, and also the different opportunities each classroom setting would offer. In the end I feel it doesnt matter whether you opt for a single sex or coed classroom, as long as its a good one. One of the main things I feel you should look for are committed, capable teachers who care. And as long as a child has supportive parents who are supportive of their learning environment, things will work out.

8 Works Cited

Blake, Chris, and Demand Media. "The Advantages of a Coed High School." Everyday Life. Global Post, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2013.

Lewin, Tamar. "Single-Sex Education Is Assailed in Report." The New York Times 22 Sept. 2011: A19. Print.

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.

Strange, Vicki, and Ann Oakley. "Mixed Sex or Single Sex Education: How Would Young People like Their Sex Education and Why." Gender and Education 15.2 (2003): 201-15. Print.