You are on page 1of 11

Single-sex Education

Sara Pintauro

EDUC 300

Research Paper

December 7, 2015

Is single-sex education an improvement in our society or a disadvantage to

children? Single-sex education has been a debate in our society for decades. The major

debate about it is whether people will benefit more by being with only their gender or

from being surrounded by both genders throughout their early education. Most people

that are for single-sex education argue that it is less of a distraction for the students,

which allow them to do better in the classroom. People that are against single-sex

education usually argue that the students will not be prepared to enter the coed

environment.

I believe that single-sex education should be offered, but it shouldnt be forced.

That there should be an option for single-sex education if the parents or students prefer it

or benefit from it but I believe that single-sex education is not for everyone. I think that in

some cases single-sex education can help students stay focused and get ahead but that in

the long-run it will put them behind in society with social and communication aspects. I

also believe that depending on the personality of the student, being in a single-sex

classroom may hold them back from following certain interests they might want to

follow. This would be due to the pressure of having to be the same as every other student

in their classroom due to their gender expectations or what the majority of their
2 Single-sex Education

classmates might be interested in. For instance, if there is a sensitive, artistic male

student, he might feel lost in a classroom where most if not all of his peers are interested

in athletics and competition. It could lead him into getting left behind or not being able to

express his interests and personality. Overall, without looking into the topic my opinion is

that single-sex education should be available as an option but that it overall does not

benefit the majority of students.

Single-sex classrooms are believed by people to be beneficial and logical, but also

believed by people to give no advantage to students and ultimately affect them

negatively. In either case, nature and nurture play a huge role in the behavior of children

and the childs learning profile and preferences. For instance, their gender, abilities and

disabilities, intelligence, family upbringing, culture, and socioeconomic status all are

factors of a students learning predilection.1 Many people believe that single-sex

classrooms are beneficial because there are fewer distractions, customized learning,

educational opportunity, stereotypes, difference in maturity levels, and the difference in

the way girls and boys learn. The people against single-sex education argue that it

negatively effects future interactions with the coed society, interferes with students

personalities, theres not enough controlled research to back up the benefits, it promotes

gender stereotypes, and children wont have the opportunity to think or learn in different

ways. Both arguments are strongly backed by research making the debate of whether we

should have single-sex education or coed education even more challenging.

1 Stanberry, Kristin. "Single-sex education: the pros and cons." Great Kids. N.p., n.d.
Web. 11 Dec. 2015. <http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/
single-sex-education-the-pros-and-cons/>.
Single-sex Education

One of the major benefits from single sex-classrooms is due to the way boys and girls

learn differently. Researches have found that males and females brains are set up so

differently with the way they process information, listen, read, and experience emotions.

It was shown that as a whole, girls outperform boys in the use of language and fine motor

skills until age 13. Its also shown that boys generally demonstrate superiority over

females in areas of the brain involved in math.2 Due to these students people argue that

its more beneficial for the two genders to be taught in different learning environments so

that each student can learn to the best of their potential. Because girls and boys were

proven to learn in different ways, people believe that customized learning is a major

benefit for students in single-sex schooling. In single-sex schools teachers would be able

to customize their teaching strategies to meet gender-specific needs. For instance,

research has shown that some girls have longer attention spans than boys, so the teacher

could set up the day to have fewer breaks during lessons. Another example would be that

because boys are able to visualize academic concepts faster than girls, the teacher could

get through a specific lesson faster and focus on the things that the male students are

proven to struggle more with. Not only does customize learning save time, but it allows

the teacher to adjust their teaching style based on the childrens learning style which

would ultimately benefit the students more. You might ask why do we need a single-sex

class to have customized learning. This is because since boys and girls think in different

ways, in order to benefit both genders the lessons and methods of teaching would have to

2 "How Male and Female Brains Differ: Researchers reveal sex differences in the
brain's form and function." Health & Balance: n. pag. WebMD. Web. 11 Dec.
2015. <http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/
how-male-female-brains-differ>.
4 Single-sex Education

be different for each.3 The educational opportunity that single-sex classrooms are shown

to provide is another major argument used by people. Being able to ignore stereotypes is

one of the main reasons why people are for single-sex classrooms. In coed schools the

stereotype is that females are worse in math and science compared to males and males or

weaker in language and the arts compared to females. Researchers have observed that this

then makes those students take interest more in the things they are supposed to be better

at. At single-sex schools males and females are able to explore more educational

opportunities without having gender stereotypes drive their interest because they are only

with one gender. For instance, according to research, at single-sex schools girls are more

likely to explore nontraditional subjects and are encouraged to be daring and invest in

subjects they might otherwise not try.4

3 "Single-Sex vs. Coed: The Evidence." NASSPE. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. National
Association for Single Sex Public Education (NASSPE). Web. 13
Dec. 2015. <http://www.singlesexschools.org/
research-singlesexvscoed.htm>.

4 "Single-Sex vs. Coed: The Evidence." NASSPE. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. National
Association for Single Sex Public Education (NASSPE). Web. 13
Dec. 2015. <http://www.singlesexschools.org/
research-singlesexvscoed.htm>.
Single-sex Education

With children being able to show interest in areas of their education that they wouldnt

otherwise show interest to in a coed school, there passion and focus on their education

increases tremendously benefiting them in the long run. For instance, as shown in the

graph, the percentage of classmates for both genders to enroll in high earning majors

increases dramatically the more classmates they have of the same sex.

Many people argue that children shouldnt be in a mixed-gender classroom because,

especially at certain ages, students of the opposite sex can be a distraction. People argue

that if the other sex is in the classroom, the other will do nothing but think about and pay

attention to the other sex and not pay attention to the teacher. The opposite sex cannot

only be a distraction in the attraction sense, but also in a discomforting way. Researchers

have found that in a coed setting students sometimes get intimidated by the other sex and

become less comfortable participating during in class discussions and activities. It raises

the feeling of embarrassment or inadequacy in some students. All of these feelings can be

avoided by implementing single-sex classrooms. For instance, a study done by the


6 Single-sex Education

American Psychological Association analyzed 184 studies on single-sex versus coed

schools. They found that single in single-sex schools there was an improvement in

classroom behaviors compared to the behaviors of students in coed schools.5 Physical

appearance was a major difference between single-sex and coed classrooms which was

another distraction eliminated with single-sex schools. For instance, when attending a

single-sex school research showed the boys and girls cared less about how they looked

when going to school. This led to students spending less time figuring out what to wear

and caring about what others were wearing which was one less distraction from education

to deal with.6

One of the major arguments against single-sex education is that eventually, it could be

hard for students to assimilate into a mixed gender society. This is a major concern

because men and women have to get along. There is not option to not work or interact

with both sexes in the workforce. Therefore in order to be able to effectively do this in

their future they need to learn and practice interacting with the opposite sex throughout

their education. Unlike single-sex schooling, coed education allows them to practice this.

Maturity also plays a role in the fact that boys will lose the opportunity to be positively

influenced by the girls in their classes. Not only would single-sex classrooms lead to a

major adjustment period once the students reach the workforce but it would bring us a

5 "Single-Sex Education Unlikely to Offer Advantage Over Coed Schools, Research


Finds." American Psychological Association. N.p., 3 Feb. 2014. Web. 13 Dec.
2015. <http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2014/02/
single-sex-education.aspx>.

6 Novotney, Amy. Coed Versus Single-sex Ed. American Psychological Association.


American Psychological Association, February 2011. Web. 18 September 2014. Retrieved
from American Psychological Association
Single-sex Education

step back in society as a whole. As much as we would like to be living only with people

who are like-minded and of the same class and the same persuasion, it does not mean its

a good thing for our democratic society where we need to all think differently and face

problems with different ideas.7 People also argue that there isnt enough controlled

research to back up the benefits of a single-sex classroom. They argue that the research of

the differences in an all girls or boys school and a coed school, dont put into account the

many other factors of the schools and environment that are different other than the

gender. In order to research whether single-sex classrooms have any benefits on the

students they need to eliminate the factors of all the students prior academic

achievement, the curriculum, the home environment, the teachers skill. Since most

researchers dont do this, most studies proving that single-sex education is beneficial

hasnt been based on just gender differences.8 Going along with this argument, a study

that did include controlling for qualities of children entering the study proved that

academic achievement is not superior in single-sex schools.9 Researchers have also found

that segregating students by gender can lead to greater gender discrimination and make it

harder for students to deal with the other sex later in life. Specifically in this study they

7 Rynor, Becky. "Co-ed or single-sex education?" The Globe and Mail. N.p., 13 Sept.
2011. Web. 13 Dec. 2015. <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/
national/co-ed-or-single-sex-education/article600622/>.

8 Strauss, Valerie. "Kids dont learn better in single-sex classes." The Washington
Post. N.p., 11 Feb. 2014. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/11/
kids-dont-learn-better-in-single-sex-classes-meta-analysis/>.

9 Fabes, Richard. "What Our Research on Single-Sex Education Shows." The New York
Times: n. pag. Web. 13 Dec. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/
roomfordebate/2011/10/17/single-sex-schools-separate-but-equal/
what-our-research-on-single-sex-education-shows>.
8 Single-sex Education

found that coed schools are able to teach a diverse body of students to work together and

to respect each other, where single-sex schooling struggles with this.

Single-sex classrooms would impact my classroom in multiple ways. One of the main

things that would be different than in a coed classroom would be how I taught and

structured the class. I would need to be trained to be able to employ gender specific

teaching techniques. For instance I would need to approach every lesson, activity, and

way of teaching my children as a whole, based off of studies done on the way the specific

gender processes and understands information. I would need to think of alternate ways to

expand my students way of looking and thinking about things because the other gender

would not be present to ensure it for me. Not only would it change the way I taught but it

would impact the way my students thought. Impacting them negatively and positively,

they will be surrounded by peers that think and learn extremely similarly, making most

people be on the same page but also making the students have less of an open mind about

everything. It would also positively impact my classroom because there will be less

distractions and more students focused on what theyre learning. With fewer distractions

the students would be able to advance in their education faster than with all the

distractions that come with a coed classroom.

After spending time researching why single-sex classrooms are better and why

they are not, I have stayed with my opinion about them not being beneficial in the long

run. Based off the facts, yes single-sex education can be less distracting and the teachers

can focus more on the specific genders needs, but there a lot more consequences than
Single-sex Education

benefits. Separating students by gender not only promotes the gender stereotypes but it

puts the students and society behind when theyre unable to communicate or work with

the opposite sex. Male and females brains may work differently, but that does not mean

we should separate them and teach them different. Logically it would be beneficial to

give the students the opportunity to learn different ways of thinking and understanding

schoolwork off of each other. Being in an atmosphere where everyone thinks and

understands differently would allow the students to think of diverse concepts and ideas

that would have never came to mind if being taught in a single-sex classroom where

everyone learns extremely similarly. This consequence of a single-sex classroom not only

negatively impacts the student by not giving them the opportunity to learn and think in

different ways, but it leads to an issue when they need to interact and work with the

opposite sex throughout the rest of their lives.

In conclusion, single-sex classrooms vs. coed classrooms have been a major

debate in our society for a long time. No matter how much research has been done about

the topic, it is still a large and growing argument today. The major concern is how we can

benefit our students and eventually society the most. Both opinions have strong

arguments on why and how it benefits the student yet I believe that single-sex classrooms

dont help the student or society in the long run. This debate should be a major concern to

everyone considering it affects not only our children but also the people that will be

entering the workforce and running our country.


1
0 Single-sex Education

Works Cited

Fabes, Richard. "What Our Research on Single-Sex Education Shows." The New York

Times: n. pag. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

<http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/10/17/single-sex-schools-

separate-but-equal/what-our-research-on-single-sex-education-shows>.

"How Male and Female Brains Differ: Researchers reveal sex differences in the brain's

form and function." Health & Balance: n. pag. WebMD. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.

<http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/how-male-female-brains-differ>.

Rynor, Becky. "Co-ed or single-sex education?" The Globe and Mail. N.p., 13 Sept. 2011.

Web. 13 Dec. 2015. <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/co-ed-or-

single-sex-education/article600622/>.

"Single-Sex Education Unlikely to Offer Advantage Over Coed Schools, Research

Finds." American Psychological Association. N.p., 3 Feb. 2014. Web. 13 Dec.


Single-sex Education

2015. <http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2014/02/single-sex-

education.aspx>.

"Single-Sex vs. Coed: The Evidence." NASSPE. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. National

Association for Single Sex Public Education (NASSPE). Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

<http://www.singlesexschools.org/research-singlesexvscoed.htm>.

Stanberry, Kristin. "Single-sex education: the pros and cons." Great Kids. N.p., n.d. Web.

11 Dec. 2015. <http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/single-sex-education-the-

pros-and-cons/>.

Strauss, Valerie. "Kids dont learn better in single-sex classes." The Washington Post.

N.p., 11 Feb. 2014. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.

<https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/11/kids-dont-

learn-better-in-single-sex-classes-meta-analysis/>.

Tucker, Kristine. "Argument For & Against Single Sex Schools." globalpost. Demand

Media, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2015. <http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/argument-

against-single-sex-schools-17811.html>.

Edison Trickett, Penelope Trickett, et al. The independent school experience: aspects of

the normative environment of single-sex and coed secondary schools, Journal of

Educational Psychology, 74(3):374-381, 1982.

Novotney, Amy. Coed Versus Single-sex Ed. American Psychological Association.

American Psychological Association, February 2011. Web. 18 September 2014.

Retrieved from American Psychological Association