Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advantages and Disadvantages of Single-Gender Schools


One of the most pressing concerns a parent faces is where their children will go to school. With so many problems in public schools nowadays, it's only natural that a parent would look for other options if they are available. We want the best for our children, right? For some parents, these options might include a single-gender school. If you are considering this path for your kids, here are a few of the advantages and disadvantages.

  • -The same advantages of private schools in general-more individual attention, opportunities to take courses they may not otherwise, religious education if it is a religious school.
  • -Students can often concentrate more on academics if not distracted by things involving the opposite sex. Face it-staring at that cutie across the classroom or getting depressed about seeing 'your man' with another girl in the hall is often way more interesting than the subject at hand! Even if it's a class they like, these things have a way of 'crowding out' the teacher's words. Without these things around, students are more able to focus.
  • -Less drama, especially among girls. Hopefully you weren't like this and neither is your daughter, but a good 90% of the gossip, bullying and rivalry I saw in my middle and high schools among girls involved a guy.  Teenage girls can be awful to each other; having only other girls in their school gives them one less 'reason'.
  • -Studies have shown that boys and girls learn somewhat differently, and a single-gender school can provide more 'tailored' teaching.
  • -Students can often gain more confidence and be more able to participate in class if they are not intimidated by the opposite sex. I can tell you from personal experience that it can be downright intimidating to be the only girl in a class full of boys, especially since I was shy and the boys weren't.
  • -Less stereotyping when it comes to academics or activities. A boy who is interested in the arts or cooking might be more likely to take such classes at a single-gender school because they wouldn't be picked on for taking 'girl classes'. While the same doesn't happen with girls as much these days, it can still be pretty bothersome to be the only girl in a shop or mechanics class.

  • -Limited socialization with the opposite sex. The school years are a critical time in a person's life when it comes to learning how to deal with people. Since these are lessons that don't come in a book, kids have to 'learn by doing'. If someone never gets a chance to 'do', how can they learn? Luckily, many schools tackle this problem by having 'mixers' with other schools or allowing students to take a single class at a neighboring school. I went to a college that was mostly men, but it wasn't unusual for me to have a classmate or two from one of the women's colleges down the road. Also, kids who participate in community or church/synagogue activities can meet other kids outside of school.
  • -Related to the above, the world isn't single-gender. While it might be okay to teach boys and girls differently at school, coed universities and workplaces don't operate this way; in fact, it's often illegal for them to do so! Not only does someone need to learn how to deal with the opposite sex on a *personal* level, they'll also have to navigate on a professional level. It's very helpful in these regards to know how the other gender thinks, and you can't always get this at a single-gender school.
  • -Consider what it might be like for the tomboy and/or male equivalent in a single-gender school. Students who identify more with the opposite gender often feel isolated as it is; a single-gender school would just make this worse.
  • -Single-gender schools don't usually allow for a lot of diversity. This can be said for many small schools, but being all-boys or all-girls limits the 'playing field' even further.
  • -As it's not legal in many places for a public school to be single-gender, such schools are nearly always private. With private schools come private school fees, and not everyone can afford them. It might be possible for your child to get a scholarship, but it doesn't always work out that way.

In the end, it's entirely up to you to decide what is best for your particular situation. Even if I can't (and wouldn't want to) do that for you, I can give you something to think about.

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