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Are single sex schools more beneficial to a child’s overall education than co-ed schools?
Are single sex schools more beneficial to a child’s overall education than co-ed schools?
Jacob Boe, Sevriano Battista, James Gray, Declan Tierney, and Yisoo Kim, Grade 10, UWCSEA Dover
The essay below is part of the Grade 10 Global Perspectives Critical Challenge Project. Global Perspectives is a two year course aimed at making students more aware of the key personal, social and global issues inherent in the UWC philosophy. Designed to strengthen critical thinking skills this course teaches students to consider issues from a variety of perspectives and formulate educated opinions on a wide variety of issues.
The overall aim of most Critical Challenge Projects was to address some sort of issue which very few people knew about and write about it. But more importantly, we were set the task to educate people about our topic. The method which we used to educate our peers was using the school magazine - Dunia. Our specific topic question was ‘Are single sex schools more beneficial to a child’s overall education than co-ed schools?’. Considering that we had five group members, it was advisable that we split this big topic question into smaller sub-categories. The five different sub categories were ‘Do single sex schools restrict students’ social skills more than it would in an integrated school?’, ‘How does the schooling environment affect the amount of cases of bullying?’, ‘Are stereotypes associated with single sex and co-ed schools justified?’, ‘Are students able to mature at a quicker rate in a single sex school than an integrated school?’ and lastly ‘How are a student’s academic level affected in a single sex school in comparison to an integrated school?’. Each of us were assigned one question which we were passionate about and had to write a short article about it. The most important part of our project was by far to educate our peers as this is a massively debated subject.
The topic question for this article is are single sex schools more beneficial to a child’s overall education than co-ed schools? Our article will outline the differences between co-ed and single gender schooling in terms of five separate sub-topics. These topics include academics, social skills, maturity, stereotypes about the similarities and differences and bullying within the schools. While some sub-topics are outlined and supported with statistics, most have an opinionated answer. We will be discussing both sides of this recent and relevant argument and will display facts and evidence supporting either side allowing our readers to make a verdict.
Q1: Do single sex schools restrict students’ social skills more than it would in an integrated school?
Social skills are possibly the most important skills which we need to develop in our lifetime. The development of these skills all start in school. Social skills will be developed very differently depending on whether one has been brought up in single sex education or integrated sex education. Both have many positives and negatives.
Many will say that going through a single sex education will leave you lacking in the future. “School is preparation for adult life,” says Halpern, a former APA President. “How can boys and girls learn how to interact as equals in the workplace if they have no experience interacting as equals in school?” (Amy Novotney - Coed vs Single Sex Education). Social skills are probably the most important skills you can learn in your life as you will need them throughout your entire life, from job interviews to your relationship. More importantly having great social skills will ultimately make you live your life much happier as it enables you to get along better with other people and have larger friend groups (Vincent Scordo - Why it is important to have good social skills). When looking at it this way, it is somewhat obvious the people will be at a disadvantage by going through single sex education.
On the other hand, through years and years of research, statistics have shown that children who are educated in single sex schools tend to have more confidence than if they were educated in integrated sex schools (Blythe Grossberg - 4 Reasons why Single Sex schooling is for you). Confidence is very closely tied with social skills. Having the confidence to talk to whoever you need to is a very valuable trait as it will help get what you want and ultimately get further in life.
To conclude, it is easy to view how a child will be at a major disadvantage when it comes to socialising with people of the opposite gender if they were to attend a single sex school, but, as usual, there are two sides of the story. Also, It is impossible to predict how a child will turn out in the future, depending on the education style they are brought up in. This is mainly due to the fact that there are many other things which will also have a great impact on a child's social skills, such as the social environment within one's household.
Q2: How does the schooling environment affect the amount of cases of bullying?
The rates of bullying in both schooling systems are still very prevalent in current society. However, there is a difference in rates of bullying in the same gender and mixed gender schools. There are multiple articles conveying their thoughts on the problem. For example, an article written by Daily Mail (Daily Mail) states that “girls are likely to be bullied in single-sex schools.” This is highly perplexing because Daily Mail states that girls are more likely to be verbally and physically bullied more than there mixed school counterparts. An article that was written by the Telegraph media group (Katherine Turner and Amelia De Normann - The Telegraph) also states that girls in single-sex school are more common to bully each other more verbally to attempt to destroy each other psychologically. The National Centre for Social Research (NASSPE: Research > Single-Sex vs. Coed: The Evidence) said that In an all boys school the normal stereotypes of boys in a co-educational school (For example boys who don’t care for sports) feel more comfortable and not exposed in all-boys classes. This is very baffling because I hypothesised that It will be the other way around with girls being more cooperative and caring and the opposite for boys.
However, The Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM), did a case study in South Korea revolving around the effects of single-sex schools vs coeducational schools on bullying (2014 APPAM Fall Research Conference). This case study allows us to see the difference between Western school and Asian schools. This article is the complete opposite to the ones written by more western ideals. It states that “girls are less likely to experience verbal bullying, theft, and physical bullying compared to their counterparts in mixed schools. Furthermore, boys reported a more frequency of bullying.
In conclusion, the data between Western and Asian schools clearly shows the difference between the development of the pupils and also the schooling systems.
Q3: Are stereotypes associated with single sex and co-ed schools justified?
As stereotypical discrimination is still a relevant issue in the world, most would assume racial, political or economical discrimination as the most prominent. But unlike the aforementioned, the past behind gender discrimination dates back to the beginning of civilisation and states different roles that males and females should take in society. The norm of assumption that people have inherited from generations before that sets men and women’s fate in stone is continuing into today’s so called ‘developed’ and ‘modern’ era. This section will be outlining the stereotypes of single sex and co-ed schools and whether they are justified or true.
Society’s acceptance under the falsity that boys’ and girls’ brains are very different and require different teaching methods has worked its way into school systems and the media, according to a study conducted by Mike Krings of Kansas University. Despite the number of single gender public schools increasing from two to 500 in the past 20 years in the US (Morrison, Forbes), the idea that boys have different needs and learning abilities to girls is an outdated fact debunked by neuroscience.
It has been shown from a survey about differences and similarities in the classroom that boys and girls both read English notices around, making suggestions to the teacher about in-class language learning tasks, doing revisions not required by the teacher, collecting texts in English and listening to songs in English were the most commonly used autonomous language learning activities by both genders (Yilmaz, p.242). With clear evidence from a well supported neurological research centre in Istanbul, it has been proven that boys and girls have very similar learning techniques and abilities. And while the choice of a parent to send their child to a single gender school is a personal decision that may not solely rely on advantageous learning environments, the facts have to be taken into consideration. The stereotypes that conclude big differences between boys’ and girls’ abilities in the classroom are not true.
Even though falsified classroom ability differences between co-ed and single gender schools are the main reason for parents choosing one of the two, there are other factors that have been heavily stereotyped which weigh in to the decisions made. The environment inside the classroom in co-ed schools has it’s own effect on the students. Unlike brain development and abilities, this is a stereotype which has been proven multiple times. South Korean schooling research, for example, randomly placed students into co-ed or single gender environments and recorded result grades. Single gender students got higher test scores and a higher rate of college attendance. The main factor for these results is the distraction element. Except for a small percentage of students in co-ed schools who are homosexual, the majority of students were found to be distracted in some way by classmates of the opposite gender.
Q4: Are students able to mature at a quicker rate in a single sex school than an integrated school?
Single sex schools have been proven to cause male students to mature at a much much slower rate. This is because of the fact that girls will tend to mature at a faster rate than boys do anyways, and the way that boys mature is due to feeding off the maturity of girls. I also believe that boys and girls learn in different ways due to the difference of their brains. Due to the difference of how both genders think, I feel as though that if both genders don’t interact with each other then they won’t be able to grow socially and interact normally with the opposite sex as they had been separated for most of their lives.
It is also normal for boys to have relationships with girls starting from a young age and taking that away from them will prevent them from being able to interact with them as well as they could if they were in a school with both genders (Alexandra Sifferlin). This could affect these students in the long term as they won’t be used to being in workplaces or places where they would have to work with the opposite gender and likely wouldn’t be as effective.
Studying and having group talks with the opposite gender also helps with students to grow more academically as the fact that we think differently and have different unique perspectives to certain ideologies and issues can help us solve problems and questions with different perspectives (Psychology Today). However, separating the two genders can also prevent stereotypes that surround students that don’t go to single sex schools such as “girls aren’t strong”, “they’re opinions don’t matter”, “that subject’s for girls”, “that sport’s for men”.
Most of these stereotypes are surrounding the idea that women are just not good enough and men have a more important role to play making them subconsciously discriminate against women when they grow up. I feel that it is important to keep both the genders together as having interactions at a younger age will allow them to think of each other at the same social hierarchy. Allowing them to be together while thinking of each other on the same level. It can also allow students to be more confident in trying out a certain subject or activity they’d enjoy without being stereotyped for being too feminine or to masculine a few examples of this could be dance, rugby, art, drama or gymnastics (EdChange Consulting and Workshops). (If two genders are placed together in the first place, many believe that this is the main cause for why gender stereotyping happens in the first place.
This means that if we separate both genders from a younger age and allow them to mature before allowing the two genders to mix, it could prevent this division between the two genders which is caused by subconsciously comparing them starting from a young age (Sarah Knapton - The Telegraph). In fact, sciencemag.org shows some evidence from gender specific studies that “The brains of men and women aren’t really that different, study finds”. In the 16th Century, it was evident that scientists were trying to prove that you could tell the difference between a male and a female, just by looking at their brains. However, modern day studies have proven to prove this study wrong.
Q5: How are a student’s academic level affected in a single sex school in comparison to an integrated school?
Academic results differentiate by a great amount between students in single sex schools and integrated schools. Students in single sex schools tend to excel in academics whereas students in integrated schools do not show as much achievement. College admission rates were generally way higher in single sex schools than integrated school as well.
This clearly proves the point that having the two genders mixed together in a working environment is prone to cause distractions and therefore it would lead to a decrease in the overall grades of students.
Research In Korea shows that students in single sex schools do way better in general than students in integrated schools in terms of academics (NASSPE: Research > Single-Sex vs. Coed: The Evidence). The data is reliable as in Korea, students are randomly assigned to either a single sex or integrated school and parents are not able to opt them out of it. Such actions of assigning students to a specific school at random may be illegal in many countries but in Korea, it is just how the system works, therefore it makes it easier for researchers to carry out reliable experiments.
Thus, students in single sex schools perform better in academics than those in integrated schools. Although single sex school students may have been shown to mature at a slower rate, academics doesn’t seem to be affected by the rate of maturity.
To conclude, we would like to finish by saying that their is no specific way your children will be in the future as their are too many factors which will impact the child’s social skills, ferocity, maturing rate and academic level. Other than their schooling some factors which will impact all of these may be how their parents brought them up and more importantly the environment within their house. For example, with supportive parents, many things will be different compared to if you are very distant from your family. Stereotyping is a somewhat different topic from the rest, as it was somewhat related to all the rest of the sub-questions. to reiterate what has been mentioned earlier in the article, we aren’t making this a report to conclude and tell you that one form of schooling is better than the other, we are just trying to provoke you to think about this much debated topic and let you make a decision for yourself. This is primarily due to the fact that the different forms of schooling may be more beneficial to different students.