Single Sex High Schools

Table of Content

Our educational system is broken. It is struggling today not just because of the problems of undisciplined children, the pressure from legislators to raise test scores, the lack of funds, parents fears for their children’s safety, overwhelmed teachers; it is also struggling because we are graduating children that do not have the tools necessary to fill out an employment application.

Single-sex high schools
The single-sex format creates opportunities that do not exist in the coed classrooms. Single-sex education has been growing in popularity since the 2002 “No child Left Behind Act” was passed, allowing local educational agencies to use “Innovative Program” funds to support same-gender schools and classrooms “consistent with existing laws”. The U. S. Department of Education loosened its Title 1X regulation in 2006 to diminish prohibitions on single-sex education. While simply separating boys and girls do not guarantee success, schools that use best practices for gender specific teaching may be more successful at teaching boys’ and girls’ strengths, according to Leonard Sex, MD, PhD, a psychologist, family physician, and executive director of the National Association for single-Sex Public Education (NASSPE). When I started my research for this paper I was amazed at the information that was available. I went to the library and checked out three books.

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The first book was titled “Boys and Girls Learn Differently” written by Michael Gurian, the New York Times bestselling author of 25 books. He provides counseling services at the Marycliff Center, in Spokane, Washington. He has been called “the people’s philosopher”, and he has pioneered efforts to bring neurobiology and brain research into homes and schools. His book has sparked conversations on gender differences, how it affects learning, and how knowing about gender differences can help close achievement gaps and increase teacher effectiveness. From the very beginning parents and teachers have observed differences in the behavior, learning styles, and focused interests of girls and boys. The second book entitled “Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New crisis for Girls- Sexual Identity, the Cyber bubble, Obsessions, Environmental Toxins was written by Leonard Sax, MD, PhD, a psychologist, family physician, and executive director of the NASSPE. He shows in his book that many girls growing up in the 21st century lack a stable, internally developed sense of self. The anxiety that absence generates, is behind girls’ increased rates of depression, cutting, and alcohol abuse; and increased desire to look and act sexy before they feel sexual. It is not surprising that his overall remedy is to accommodate gender differences in everything from how girls are taught physics to how they are taught math. Some feminists groups have long claimed that teaching and parenting girls differently or separately from boys project the idea that women can’t compete with men in the real world. Sax points out that actually coed school is very different from the real world, and that we ignore girls’ unique needs. The third library book that I read was “Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Educational System that’s Leaving them Behind,” written by Richard Whitmire. “The world has gotten more verbal, boys haven’t.” The quote pretty much sums up the reason for Richard Whitmire’s book. Whitmire makes the case that boys are falling behind in schools, then tries to examine the reasons for the performance gaps, the areas in which boys are falling behind the most, and potential solutions to the problem. The evidence that Whitmire cites repeatedly throughout the book is very compelling: boys have lower grade point averages than girls

more girls earn academic honors
more boys repeat grades, drop out, get expelled, or have disciplinary issues more girls are graduating high school
more girls are entering college
of those who do enter college, girls are more likely to graduate within six
years women are earning more higher education degrees
Whitmire tries to discredit various arguments that the failures are primarily due to socioeconomic class, race, lack of male teachers, or video games. The single biggest factor Whitmire cites is literacy, and he does make some excellent points. The way schools work, literacy is taught in earlier grades but later it’s assumed. When you take high school courses the teacher does not make sure you know how to read. They simply want you to know the science, math, history, or any other subject. But if boys fail to master reading and writing early on, then the problem just gets compounded in middle school and high school. Whitmire draws a comparison between giving boys extra help with reading and configuring math and science courses to be more attractive to girls.

Reading those three books gave me a great list of survey questions for my neighbors of middle school and high school children. Do boys and girls learn differently?
Are boys’ and girls’ brains hardwired for different abilities? How do boys’ and girls’ brains differ?
Do boys and girls respond differently to competition?
What do girls and boys gain by playing together?
Do sex hormones affect learning?
Is there an age at which single-sex or coeducation is especially advantageous? What can boys and girls learn from each other?
Can single-sex schooling be harmful?

If high-income families can choose to send their children to private single-sex schools, why shouldn’t families who use public schools have the same choice? Does single-sex schooling better build girls’ self-confidence and self-esteem? Do the hormonal changes at puberty justify single-sex education? Do you think adolescents are less socially distracted in single-sex schools? Do you think single-sex education could prevent early sexual behavior and pregnancy? Do you think girls learn better in all female math and science classes? What about the “boy’s crisis”? Can’t single-sex schools help struggling boys? Do you think girls and boys with certain personalities could benefit from single-sex education? Do certain groups, such as children from low-income families, benefit more from single-sex education? I was really impressed with the answers that I received on the survey. A majority of the parents surveyed wanted the option for single-sex education for their children. Some of the parent’s told me that they googled single-sex education and read the information on the subject. They liked the findings that they found and they want that option in their school district.

My position on the topic is that teens should be taught in single-sex schools. Not just single-sex classrooms but in completely different schools. During the teen years their hormones are raging and the opposite sexes are attempting to attract and impress each other more than they are trying to learn.

The evidence offered to support my claim/position is the research by Dr. Leonard Sax, a family physician turned author and founder of the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education. Some research indicated that girls learn better when the temperature is warm, while boys perform better in cooler classrooms. If that’s true, then the temperature in a single-sex classroom could be set to optimize the learning of either male or female students. Some research and reports from educators suggest that single-sex education can broaden the education prospects for both girls and boys. Advocate claim co-ed schools tend to reinforce gender stereotypes, while single-sex can break down gender stereotypes. For example, girls are free of the pressure to compete with boys in male-dominated subjects such as math and science. Boys, on the other hand, can more easily pursue traditionally “feminine” interest such as music and poetry.

Choosing the right school for your son or daughter can be a difficult process and one that can cause a fair amount of stress if you are unsure what the best course of action is. While school isn’t the be all and end all of a child’s upbringing, it certainly is somewhere where they will learn a lot of their behavior and of their knowledge, and somewhere that they will simply spend a lot of their time. If you send your child to a single-sex school then there will be fewer distractions from the opposite sex that could in theory damage their education. If you went to a mixed sex school then then you probably have memories of staring across the classroom at
girls/boys rather than listening to the teacher, and this meant there were things that you didn’t pick up on as a result that you otherwise would have. If you want your child to be as focused as possible in school then a single-sex school is a good way to achieve that. The relationships between teenagers in school cause a lot of drama and are responsible for a lot of trouble. A lot of what we do we do in order to impress members of the opposite sex even if that means taking up smoking or joining a gang. At the same time a lot of the time the fall out with our friends is over a girl or boy, and just wouldn’t have happened if the children were in a single-sex school. There would be less cat fights between the girls and less macho attitude between the boys in a single-sex school.

It would not be fair to end this paper her with all the positives of single-sex schools. There are experts that claim that single-sex schools are harmful to the children. Part of the idea of going to school is to prepare your child for ‘real life” when they leave. There is no doubt that the real world is mixed gender rather than single sex and so that means that the best way to prepare our children for this is to emulate it in school. Learning to talk to members of the opposite sex is a very important skill and one that can leave you at a significant disadvantage if you’ve never had a chance to practice. By experimenting with relationships now when things are less serious, you child will be better at managing and finding them when they leave (in theory anyway). By sending your child to a school where they’ll encounter more diversity this gives them more appreciation, understanding and sympathy for people they encounter in their adult lives. This can help them to be more sympathetic, better-rounded and generally more open minded about different things. It’s also a good idea to try and develop the feminine side in your male children and the more masculine side in your girls. Diane F. Halpern, a former president of the American Psychological Association, co-authored a review of studies in the journal Science that found research doesn’t support the benefits of single-sex education. Additionally, there are lots of problems “Stereotyping increases so we really do have lots of date that says it’s just not supported.” she said. According to a September 23 article in the “Education forum” of journal Science, co-author Lise Eliot, PhD, a neuroscience professor at Rosalind
Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago contradicts claims from single-sex proponents that girls and boys learn differently because of innate brain differences. Her report also says that single-sex education may increase gender-stereotypical behavior among children, citing studies finding that girls and boys behave in more sex-typed ways when they interact primarily with member of their own gender. I have not been able to find any research material that says that if children are separated and taught in single-sex schools that they will be more prone to become homosexual. I am not sure where got her information from. There is no fact to support her claim.

Drama plays a huge roll in why boys and girls choose to attend a single-sex school. Something that will disappear in a single-sex school is the clicks such as geeks, cheerleaders, and jocks. I think they would be eliminated because girls will generally be nicer and not have to show off in front of boys. Boys also become nicer due to the fact they won’t feel the need to bully other boys, also boys will find other friends such as the ones that have the same interest such as art, music, or poetry.

It is my belief that the ultimate classroom must have teachers, supported by administrators and parents, who are both trained and committed to gender-based education. Now that we have the scientific knowledge and empirical evidence to document the major differences in anatomical structure, neurological development, and the chemical and hormonal changes in developing boys and girls, we can innovate and sustain gender-appropriate educational techniques that bring the greatest benefit to all our children, with all of their unique and personal strengths and needs.

Blum, Deborah (1997). Sex on the brain. New York: Penguin [Federal Register: October 25, 2005. (Volume 71, Number 206)] Gurian, Michael (1999). Understanding Guys, and From Boys to Men, and Boys and Girls Learn Halpern, Diane (2012). Single-Sex public Schools Increases Sexism – – Not Learning… (Retrieved 07/22/2013. Kleinfield, Judith, “Five Powerful Strategies for Connecting Boys to School,” White House Conference on Helping America’s Youth, June 6, 2006. Manthey, J. (1998). “Boys and girls are different! Creating gender-friendly schools.” Kid culture in the schools workshop, Petaluma, Calif. 1998. Meehan, Diane (2007). Learning like a girl: Educating girls in schools of their own. Sax, Leonard, “What’s Happening to Boys? Women these days are driven – but guys lack direction,” Washington Post, March 31, 2006. Sax, Leonard. Why gender Matters: What parents and teachers need to know about the emerging science of sex differences. Sax, Leonard (2011) Girls on the edge. Basic Books.

Sax, Leonard. (2007) Boys Adrift: The five factors driving the growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men. Basic Books. Weiner, G. “Educational Research Undone.” Gender and education, 1998,10 (4), 461-462 Whitmeire, R. “Study says girls involved in schools are less likely to become pregnant.” Seatle Times, Aug. 5, 1998, sec. A, p. 9.

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