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wundayatta's avatar

What are the pros and cons of single sex education?

Asked by wundayatta (58349 points ) May 1st, 2009

I spent a year in a boys’ school when I was fifteen. I am told that the school is starting to go coed for the oldest kids. I have mixed feeling about this. When I was a kid, I thought single-sex education was ridiculous, but it didn’t really bother me.

The school says that they are going coed for “social” reasons. I suppose socialization is part of education; as is learning how to deal with girls. Although, looking at the questions here, I’m not sure coed education does a better job.

The school did a poll of former students, and found that it was the younger former students who wanted to remain single-sex, and older ones who wanted to change. I’m an older one, but I like the idea of a single sex school, although I don’t know why.

What are your thoughts?

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17 Answers

Les's avatar

I’m like you, I liked my experience at my all girls high school. I think some girls (if there were lots of guys around) would try to “impress” them; we never had any of that. The school said that single sex education helped people with feeling intimidated in front of the opposite sex, but I never had a problem with that, even when I went to coed schools. But I guess if you are the kind of person who gets easily embarrassed, it helps to remove one of the elements that may be embarrassing you.
On the down side, girls can be pretty petty, and there were the occasional fights, etc. that girls seem to get themselves into. But I really liked my high school experience. The school is now coed, because our brother school closed, so my high school opened their doors to let the guys in. It kinda made me sad to see it go, but I guess it isn’t so bad.

SuperMouse's avatar

I did a research paper on this topic last year and what I found is that it pretty much all comes out in the wash. Girls do benefit some by being grouped only with girls for math and science classes, but it is actually not as much as one might think. Boys don’t tend to get much benefit at all.

westy81585's avatar

Speaking purely on terms of book smarts education, single sex education may have some benefits.

Speaking on terms of social education, single sex education will leave you drastically uneducated.

mattbrowne's avatar

Pros: Exploring feelings and questions that’s unique to boys or girls only
Cons: Listening and understanding the feelings and questions of the other sex.

A mix would be best.

Les's avatar

@westy81585 I beg to differ on the “social education” aspect of your comment. We were all perfectly social when it came to interacting with the opposite sex (some more than others, if you know what I mean.. nudge nudge). Just because you attend a school with one sex, doesn’t mean you never interact with the opposite sex. Many single sex schools have a brother or sister school (mine did), and occasionally those schools will have activities like dances, etc. together.

Pol_is_aware's avatar

I think schools should have more activities that force girls and boys to interact—get those nervous teens over their phobias.

delirium's avatar

I think, in actuality, boys are better behaved around girls.

wundayatta's avatar

@delirium: That, I think, depends on the school. I went to a British public school, and we were generally as well behaved as I was in the States. A bit more wise-ass, but about as polite as anyone is at that age. We made more trouble off school grounds. I remember harassing smokers on the top floor of double-decker buses.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

I went to a private catholic school up until 8th grade, then went to a public highschool. Most of my old friends went to single sex private highschools and I still hung out with them all the time. We all ended up fine really. At best I think it’s a wash. There are some things that help boys in both situations, some that hinder. Same goes with girls. It just comes down to the preference of the parents. Me personally, I’d go coed all the way.

ratboy's avatar

The homework is great, but you really have to be up for the exams.

kevbo's avatar

I liked going to an all guys high school, but New Orleans has a strong system of single sex schools and a very social culture, so there really wasn’t ever a lack of opportunity to hang out with girls. I suppose the main thing I missed out on was sex the opportunity for early disillusionment.

seekingwolf's avatar

All girls schools are baaaaad news. I have a friend who went to one and it was awful for her; girls are so mean! I have no idea what all guys schools are like, but I can imagine that they will have their own problems.

The truth is, it doesn’t really prepare you for the real world. The real world has both genders in it and you have to learn to deal with them. Yes, boys can be distracting to girls and vice versa, but isn’t it better for children to learn social skills and how NOT to be distracted when they are young?

westy81585's avatar

@Les Well agreed you wouldn’t be socially inept by any means, and in fact would still have a lot of interactions with the opposite sex. But not nearly as many as coed students.

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t think sexual segregation is any more beneficial than racial segregation, there is no such thing as separate but equal. Better to prepare people to exist in the world as it is, not to create some special atmosphere that dissolves as soon as one graduates.

I went to single sex school from 8th grade through college and I would never have sent a child of mine to one.

prasad's avatar

You get to know the behaviour of same/opposite gender. It helps to learn how to behave from other’s behaviours, good or bad, both.
But always catch the good part

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t think schools should be separated by sex/gender-at all
it doesn’t help the already unnecessary misunderstanding girl and boy children feel towards each other because their parents are too scared to actually say there isn’t much difference between the sexes

SeventhSense's avatar

One sex classroom pro: Less pull me thongs to distract you in class.
One sex classroom con: Less pull me thongs to distract you in class.

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