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Debate: Single-sex schools

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Revision as of 15:02, 15 March 2011

Are single sex schools a good idea?

Background and context

Studies in the past have shown that boys gain more academically from studying in co-education schools, but that girls find segregated schools more conducive to achievement. But academic results are not the only criterion on which the success of the education system should be judged. In the States, a long-standing controversy over the Virginia Military Institute resulted in a landmark Supreme Court ruling, in June 1996, that the institute must admit women. However the Court left room for private (i.e. not state-run) single-sex institutions and also such schools where needed to redress discrimination. This debate can apply both to secondary school and college level, but single-sex institutions are found more frequently at the former.


Gender differences: Do single-sex schools address gender differences well?


  • Single-sex schools acknowledge legitimate gender differences The inclinations of children in the formative years, between 7 and 15, are to gravitate towards their own sex. They naturally tend towards behaviour appropriate to their gender. It is therefore easier to implement an education strategy geared specifically towards one gender. Certain subjects are best taught in single-sex classrooms, such as sex education or gender issues.


  • Children should be exposed to gender differences in schools. The formative years of children are the best time to expose them to the company of the other gender, in order that they may learn each others’ behaviour and be better prepared for adult life. The number of subjects benefiting from single-sex discussion is so small that this could easily be organised within a co-educational system.
  • Single-sex schools foster disorders toward opposite sex. Being educated with a whole class of the same sex, girls or boys will be afraid of communicating with the other sex after graduation, because they don't know how. This can develop into a kind of mental disorder or phobia.

Education: Do single-sex schools better educate children?


  • Single-sex schools allow kids to concentrated on academics. In middle schools today, all kids worry about are how they are going to impress the next girl/boy. Of course most kids take in mind that they have a try their best in schools but they don't really carry it out. Having single sex schools would cause the heterosexual students to continue thinking about doing well in school and not about who their next boyfriend/girlfriend will be. Single sex schools will be very helpful in making sure students are doing better than a 70% average.
  • Women in particular have benefit from single-sex education Research shows that they participate more in class, develop much higher self-esteem, score higher in aptitude tests, are more likely to choose ‘male’ disciplines such as science in college, and are more successful in their careers. In the USA Who’s Who, graduates of women’s colleges outnumber all other women; there are only 83 women’s colleges left in the States today.


  • Some studies show single-sex schools do not improve performance. 1998 survey from the American Association of University Women, a long-time advocate of single-sex education, admitted that girls from such schools did not in fact show academic improvement. That they are more inclined towards maths and sciences is of questionable importance to society as a whole. As the report noted, "boys and girls both thrive when the elements of good education are there, elements like smaller classes, focused academic curriculum and gender-fair instruction". These can all be present in co-educational schools.

Attention: Do boys and girls distract each other from their studies?


  • Boys and girls distract each other from their education. This is especially true in adolescence as their sexual and emotional sides develop. Too much time can be spent attempting to impress or even sexually harassing each other (particularly boys toward girls). Academic competition between the sexes is unhealthy and only adds to unhappiness and anxiety among weaker students.


  • Boys and girls have a good influence on each other's education. They engender good behaviour and maturity – particularly as teenage girls usually exhibit greater responsibility than boys of the same age. Academic competition between the sexes is a spur to better performance at school.

Modernity: Are single-sex schools consistent with modernity?


  • Female-only schools are a natural extension of feminism. There are co-educational schools, men have had their own schools, why should women not? It would still be discrimination if there were only male single-sex schools; as long as both genders are catered for, this discrimination is redressed.


  • Single-sex schools are a throwback to the patriarchal cultures. In many historical cultures, only men were allowed an education of any sort. To perpetuate this is to remind women of their past subservience and to continue to hold them from full social inclusion.

Teachers: Do teachers work well in single-sex schools?



  • Teachers often favor own gender in co-educational classes. For example, male teachers can undermine the progress and confidence of girl students by refusing to choose them to answer questions etc.
  • Teachers are often discriminated against in single-sex schools. A boys’ school will usually have a largely male staff where women may feel uncomfortable or denied opportunity, and vice versa.

Pro/con resources



See also

External links


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