The issue of whether boys and girls should learn together or separately is very controversial. There is a heated debate on whether single-sex or mixed-sex schools are better. Parents are in a dilemma about the type of school to take their children to.
This has been brought about by various research findings either favoring or against either of the two types of school. According to the researchers, the academic performance of students heavily depends on the type of school that they are in, either single-sex or mixed-sex. Others believe that it is only the girls who gain from single-sex schools while the boys learn better in a mixed-sex setting. This discussion intends to shed light on the reasons why either of the school types is preferred.
Nowadays, many public schools have embraced single-sex education. This is a new trend that has come up as a result of various findings in favor of this system. One of the reasons why schools are taking on this concept is because of research showing that boys and girls learn differently. The research shows that their brains are different and therefore the way they learn is also dissimilar.
Both sexes use different parts of their brains during learning activities like reading and listening. For that reason, they process information differently during learning. Therefore, there is a need to separate them so that the learning needs of both sexes can be addressed by applying the learning strategies best suited for each gender.
Researchers say that boys and girls have different rates and ways of grasping concepts and therefore different teaching approaches should be applied for both sexes (Gurian, Stevens and Daniels 12). In addition, the researchers feel that some subjects like sex education are also best taught in same-sex classrooms so that gender-specific teaching can be applied. However, other researchers say that this kind of segregation on the basis of brain differences intensifies gender stereotypes.
When students are made to believe that they are so different and that they cannot learn at the same pace it will strengthen the grounds for some beliefs, for instance, branding girls as the weaker sex. Another problem is that most of the teachers are not trained to use teaching techniques specific to a particular gender. They are trained to teach students of the same sex and therefore the system of separating the two genders cannot improve their academic performance.
Another reason why single-sex schooling is encouraged is that it is feared that students of the same gender studying together distract each other during studies. This happens especially during puberty when students of the opposite sex start getting attracted to each other and therefore they waste time forming relationships at the expense of their studies.
Girls may experience sex pressure from the boys and this distracts them from their studies, and in case they give in, they might get expectant and face expulsion from the school. Also, in mixed schools, girls will waste time dressing up and looking good so that they can impress the boys. This wastes the time that could be spent doing studies. This is one of the reasons why many parents prefer single-sex schools, especially for girls.
Some research shows that single-gender learning helps to demolish the gender stereotypes surrounding some subjects. For instance, subjects like mathematics and sciences are assumed to be a preserve of the boys while girls are said to be good in subjects like languages and humanities. In a single-sex school or classroom, the students will be able to excel in all the subjects without feeling the pressure of competing with the opposite gender in subjects that they dominate.
In single-sex schools, girls explore their full potential without feeling the pressure of acting submissive or trying to impress the boys. Therefore they excel in all areas including sports (Hamilton 535). However, supporters of mixed-sex schooling think that learning together with members of the opposite sex will improve the performance because the students can utilize the different skills that their classmates possess to help them excel in all the subjects.
For instance, the girls can seek assistance from the boys in some subjects like mathematics and sciences while the boys can do the same in languages and art subjects. Therefore, the students are able to assist and learn from one another and consequently excel in all the subjects.
Some researchers claim that both boys and girls learn best in different environmental conditions. Girls are said to learn better in warm classrooms while cooler temperatures work for the boys. Therefore, there is a need to separate them in order to meet the required room temperature for each of the genders. However, some people dismiss this as baseless and claim that if indeed this theory is true, then the classroom temperatures can be adjusted to suit both boys and girls (Stanberry par 4).
Supporters of mixed-sex education feel that educating students in single-sex schools limit their experience in interacting with members of the opposite sex. This makes them unable to fit in the outside environment because they are not used to relating with members of the opposite sex. Mixing the students in the same school or classroom prepares them for the real-life situation because the real world is not single gendered.
It, therefore, enables them to learn how to co-exist with the members of the opposite sex in the future. School is an avenue for preparing students for adult life. Therefore, the students should learn to interact as equals so that they can have the same attitude at the workplace and in society. If children are not taught how to relate with other members of the opposite sex at an early age, they will definitely have social problems in future because they will not be able to fit in the society (Skelton, Francis and Smulyan 196).
In addition, growing up together while taking part in various activities brings about cooperation and this enables the students to adjust later in life in relating with members of the opposite sex. They will learn how to do tasks as a team at their places of work.
Mixed-sex schooling is advantageous for poor countries that cannot afford to build different well-equipped schools and colleges for both boys and girls. It saves on money because these schools will also require more teachers than mixed-sex schools.
Embracing single-sex schooling will mean coming up with sufficient funds to build new classrooms and buy new equipment to cater to the needs of the two genders. More instructors will be hired and this will require a lot of money that the poor countries do not have or they will be forced to utilize the funds reserved for more urgent needs like food.
Moreover, mixed-sex schooling boosts the confidence of the students. Students will be required to answer questions or perform presentations in class. Therefore, they will get used to talking in the presence of students of the opposite sex. This will help them to overcome shyness and low self-esteem. Later in life, such students can be able to actively participate in meetings and discussions at the workplace and express their views without any fear.
However, single-sex supporters feel that the confidence of students is boosted in the same gender setting because students will be able to interact freely and ask all the questions which would be regarded as embarrassing in a mixed-sex classroom. Therefore, they will be able to learn more as they will interact more with the instructors through questions and discussions.
From the above discussion, it is evident that both single-sex and mixed-sex schools have their pros and cons. It is therefore up to the parents to weigh the two options and settle for the one that best suits them. From my point of view, I think mixed-sex schools are better and more realistic because they provide a suitable environment for the students to interact and learn from each other.
Moreover, these schools produce students who are well versed with social skills and ready to work as a team with members of the opposite sex in the corporate world. Teamwork is paramount for the success of every organization and therefore employees who did not learn to socialize with others in school cannot excel at the workplace.
Gurian, M., Stevens, K. and Daniels P. Successful Single-Sex Classrooms: A Practical Guide to Teaching Boys and Girls Separately. USA: John Wiley and Sons, 2009. Print
Hamilton, M. Performance Levels In Science And Other Subjects For Jamaican Adolescents Attending Single-Sex And Co-Educational High Schools. Science Education. Volume 69, Issue 4, pages 535–547. 1985.
Skelton, C., Francis, B., and Smulyan, L. The Sage Handbook of Gender and Education. London: SAGE, 2006. Print
Stanberry, K. “Single-Sex Education: The Pros and Cons”. Great schools, 1998. Web.