The Benefits of Single Sex Education
"Ok class. Now that we have taken role, lets talk about our next reading assignment. We will be reading Holes by Louis Sachar. This book is about a boy named Stanley Yelnats who is falsely accused of steeling a pair of sneakers and is sent to a boy's juvenile detention camp for his punishment. This camp is called Camp Greenlake, which is ironic because there is not a lake in sight and nothing is green. There is a vast desert where everyday John! Will you please turn around in your seat and pay attention
! Where was I? Oh yes, there is a vast desert where everyday the boys in the camp dig, John! Please come sit in the front of the class. Melissa and Susan please quit talking!'
"But we were only discussing the book!"
"Please be quiet right now. Oh, Lets move on to math, since no one would like to pay attention. Please take out you homework assignment. John, what is the answer to number one?"
"That is correct. Very good! Susan, what is the answer to number two?"
"AaaaÉummmÉwellÉI think it is 112."
"That is correct! Who would like to answer question threeÉ"
This problem occurs in schools everywhere and is starting to become more evident in today's society. The problem is that boys and girls learning potential are not being reached when put into the same teaching atmosphere. Girls seem to be out smarting boys in many classes. While boys excel in math and sciences and girls seem to be better in English. The styles in which boys and girls feel comfortable with are extremely different. The learning styles of girls usually contain socializing and context. For instance, most girls like to talk in small groups about the current discussion. They also like hands on activities or real life situations to compare things to. Boys are confrontational and formal. They need to be challenged by their teachers to help motivate them to become better students and be prepared. In contrast girls do not like to be confronted by teachers who are asking for an immediate answers. In most cases, girls seem to be more reserved and modest than boys about their intelligence ("What are someÉ) are. Their differences may not seem evident but make a difference to reaching their highest learning potential.
Every day, coed classes across America cannot compensate for these different learning styles. Many women believe that their daughters are not getting enough chances in the classrooms to meet their highest potential. Many feminists feel that by separating sexes in school will increase their self-confidence and want to get them out of the atmosphere of male dominated classes. It is found that in classrooms, "teachers most often direct the 'challenging questions' to the boys while the female students receive less 'difficult questions.'" This does not let girls excel in learning. Although learning capabilities of the students is a major issue in coeducation, girls also have low self-esteem when learning in a coed environment. According to the Harvard School of Education and the American Association of University Women, "teachers are far more likely to 'praise and give positive reinforcement' to the intellectual contributions of males in the classroom, while making note of the socialization skills of girls." It is believed that the self-esteem of young women today is being lowered because they do not get the chance to give their opinion about a certain issue without being ridiculed by the opposite sex or not taken seriously by their teachers. This leaves the girls feeling unconfident and unsure about their performance in school ("Single GenderÉ"). It was also found from researchers, Myra and David Sadker that in a combined class room "when boys blurt an answer without being called on, teachers listen. When girls call out, teachers tell them to raise their hands if they wanted to speak ("A Study inÉ"). Teachers are unaware of their unfair treatment and do not understand the academic and even emotional burden they put on girls (Sadkers,).
Coeducation does not only affect females in a negative way, there are limitations for boys as well. Boys are disrupted by girls in the same classroom especially in the middle schools where the children are bursting with new hormones. Boys are even sometimes put on a lower scale than girls because they are thought to be of lower intellect and do not get the right amount of respect they need to truly focus on their studies. Boys also tend to get distracted by the other sex. Separation of these sexes could be the answer to these ongoing problems.
Interest in single gender education has increased over the past couple of years. All girls or boys schools have been offered for many years the first real controversy about coeducation was found by the AAUW or The American Association of University Women when they released their research called Separated by Sex: A Critical Look at Single-Sex Education
for Girls. This review contended that "schools often disregard bias against female students, that girls lose self esteem during adolescence and that girls fare worse than boys in math and science as a result of discrimination ("Private CoedÉ")." This got this issue in to a hot debate. In Huntertown Elementary School, in Fort Wayne, the teachers are trying single sex classrooms for the first time. Gage Girvin a boy from an all boy's class in Huntertown Elementary said that, ""Since we're all boys, we can do more boy stuff." In this class they can "take apart a juice-vending machine now sitting at the back of the classroom. They will examine the motors that make the machine run and take them apart piece by piece. Then, they will write about the experience("OfficialsÉ")."
In a study done by the Australian Council for Education Research comparing single sex and coeducation found the results that showed that "both boys and girls who were educated in single-sex classrooms scored on average 15 to 22 percentile ranks higher than did boys and girls in coeducation settings." They also found that "boys and girls in single sex schools were more likely to be better behaved and to find learning more enjoyable and the curriculum more relevant." The evidence concluded that "coeducational settings are limited by their capacity to accommodate the large differences in cognitive, social and development growth rates of boys and girls aged between 12 and 16." This shows that is learning barrier coeducation.
Many people do not believe that this information is true. They believe that children who attend single-sex schools excel because they are more "affluent families." They believe that because the children are of higher-class families and are somewhat recruited to attend the single sex schools that is why they excel. They believe it is not the single sex teaching that is helping, it is the children who are more intelligent. However, there is no evidence to back their opinion. The British Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) in 1998 tested this same situation of whether socioeconomic variables make a difference.
President George Bush, on March 3, 2004, announced plans to change the restrictions on single gender learning. Bush's administration says that this change will make it easier for girl-only and boys-only schools to operate. The Department of Education has drafted new regulations that "will make it much easier to establish single-sex schools at taxpayer expense and will sweep away many of the legal obstacles to separate classes for girls and boys (Dobbs, Michael)." Tom Carroll, chairman and founder of Brighter Choice Charter Schools says, "We think we are going to see all-boys schools and all-girls schools popping up all over the country. [The administration] is basically stopping a 30-year effort to stamp out the efforts of single-sex schools. They're basically calling off the dogs, so to speak (Vlahos, Kelley.)."
As one might suspect, some people are not happy with this new plan. By making single sex schools more available that means that Title IX or Educational Amendments Act needs to be changed as well. Title IX sates that "no person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits
of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal aid." Title IX basically eliminates sex discrimination in academics and athletics. Single sex education seems to give the idea that sexes can separate but get equal opportunities in everything. Nancy Zirkin a deputy director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights also added, "We know that in the context of race that is unacceptable, and we don't know how in the context of gender it can be acceptable." Title IX deals with anti-discrimination in education so therefore allowing more single gender schools and classrooms, altering Title IX is crucial. It also says that a "single-gender classroom can be established as long as there is equal access to the same programs for the opposite gender." The Bush administration was allowed to change these implications of Title IX and make sure that single sex schools do not have to have an opposite sex to "mirror" it. The new rule, which goes into effect after a forty-five day public comment, says "states that districts only have to ensure that the same educational opportunities exist for the other gender, and that they can be offered in a nearby co-ed school." As for single sex class inside of schools the administration will have to be sure that they are offered to each sex (Vlahos, Kelley). The administration says that they designed these new rules to "offer parents the right to choose the kind of education they want for their children, rather than impose a new model of gender-segregated classrooms (Dobbs, Micheal.)."
This issue of coeducation will always be a controversy. John will now be able to pay attention in class and reach highest learning potential. Melissa and Susan will get to talk about current assignments and be taught to be confident, independent women. And for once Mrs. Simms will get to teach children who will listen and behave.
"A study in contrasts: should boys and girls ... be separated for school?" 11 March 2004
Dobbs, Michael. "Government plans changes in Title IX law Will ease creation of same-sex schools and classrooms."
"How effective is single sex teaching?" Literacy Trust. 11 March 2004
"Officials reconsider separate classes for boys and girls."
"Private Coed Schools Find Benefits in Single-Sex Classes."
"What are some differences in how boys and girls learn?" National Association for Single Sex Public Education.
"Why Single Gender Education?" 11 March 2004
"Single-Sex Schools Score Big Victory." 11 march 2004
"Single-Sex Schools." NASBE. 10 March 2004
"The Benefits of a Single-Sex Education." 11 March 2004
"The Cotswold Experiment." Certified Male Magazine. 11 March 2004
"What Title IX is and what it strives to accomplish." 11 March 2004 c
Vlahos, Kelley Beaucar. "Single-Sex Schools Score Big Victory." 11 March 2004