Learning With All Girls Is Way Better for Girls

Single sex education is taking quite a beating with a new study showing that it actually hurts children and promotes gender stereotypes rather than helping children overcome them. But as someone who was in co-ed schools my whole life, I do wonder how valid these studies really are.

Most people I know who went to single sex schools actually thrived because of them. They felt more comfortable raising their hands, speaking out, and being themselves in an environment where the drama of the opposite sex didn't exist. The study, however, concludes:

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Sex-segregated education is deeply misguided, and often justified by weak, cherry-picked, or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence. There is no well-designed research showing that single-sex (SS) education improves students' academic performance, but there is evidence that sex segregation increases gender stereotyping and legitimizes institutional sexism.

And though personal experience does not a study make, teachers are also having some success by dividing classes along gender lines. One middle school teacher in Arizona did just that and has seen the girls take on many more leadership roles because of it.

In some ways the study is right. It certainly does reinforce the idea that boys and girls learn differently, and if that is "sexist," well maybe it is. But I don't think it's sexist. It's true.

At certain ages, many girls (and boys, too) spend a whole lot more time and energy on the opposite sex than they do on their studies. Girls become self-conscious of being smarter than the boys or speaking up in class and boys do the same even though it's less well publicized.

Still, as a woman who has always gotten along better with men than women, I would have hated the idea of not having boys around. But I do love the idea of single sex classrooms in co-ed schools. Best of both worlds, no?

Personally, I would love to see us get past the idea that boys and girls are exactly the same. They may be equal, but they aren't the same and that's a good thing. Children benefit from having classmates of the same sex, and yes, they also benefit from having opposite sex classmates, too. So why not have some learning be segregated and some together? Isn't that the best of both worlds?

Do you believe in single sex education?

 

Image via ShuttrKing|KT/Flickr

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