Single Sex Education

[Razoo, November 10, 2007]

In Australia, achievements of children in single-sex environments were 15-22 percentile ranks higher than those of children in co-educational settings. Single-sex education allows students of both sexes to learn in a relaxed, sex-specific environment.

Situation: The push for single-sex education comes at a time when many are realizing that American boys in particular are in academic danger and are underperforming at record rates in the current day. In addition, single-sex education seems to benefit girls as it enfranchises and emboldens them. A number of studies starting in the 1990s are showing statistical data that children from single-sex schools are outperforming students from coeducational schools. Such findings corroborate the common wisdom that boys and girls learn best when their unique learning styles and dispositions are accomodated. Recent research pushes hard against the prevailing egalitarianism of the day which insists that girls and boys are just alike and may be taught and handled in the same way. Single-sex education, the historical mode of education, thus seems the wiser choice than the relatively recent attempt at "coeducation".

Statistics: Statistics abound about the goodness of single-sex education. The strength of single-sex education shows itself in the education of boys.

According to Time magazine, the number of boys who said they didn't like school rose 71 percent between 1980 and 2001, according to a University of Michigan study. Nowhere is the shift more evident than on college campuses. Thirty years ago men represented 58 percent of the undergraduate student body. Now they're a minority at 44 percent.

Faced with such a reality, one English educator decided to break his two-gender classroom into two single-sex classrooms. The students would take the same courses from the same teachers, but boys and girls would attend separate classes. Three years after making the change, the proportion of Shenfield boys achieving high scores on standardized tests had risen by 26%. The girls' performance improved only slightly less, by 22%.

In another English school, only one-third of boys had been earning passing grades in German and French prior to institution of the program. After the change to single-sex classes, 100% of boys earned passing grades.

YOU SHOULD CARE because girls and boys learn in subtly different ways, in part because of those differences in the developmental trajectory of the brain. For those who wish to improve the academic performance of both boys and girls, there is nothing better to do than to support the cause of single-sex education and to encourage teachers to be paired up with classrooms of their sex (women with girls, men with boys). As in so many cases, the establishment is wrong--here's your chance to say so!