Single-sex education is an ancient approach that is gaining popularity these days. While it has been around for quite some time in private schools, it is now becoming a preferred option even in public schools. What is so attractive about single-sex schools and single-sex education in general? What are its advantages and disadvantages? Read on to find out more.
What is Single-sex Education?
Single-gender education can be defined as an education administered where the environment consists of only one gender. The major difference between co-ed schools and single-sex schools are the students. While coeducational learning happens in classrooms which have both boys and girls, single-sex education happens in classrooms which have either boys or girls.
What are the Benefits of Single-Sex Education?
Some children thrive in an environment which has members of the same gender while some children do better in a coed school. It really depends on how you raise your children and how they adjust to different environments. Below are some advantages of sending your children to a single-gender school:
1. A More Relaxing Environment
Many single-sex schools can be more relaxing for boys and girls as they don’t have social pressures to worry about, such as impressing the opposite gender. They can be themselves in classrooms and can speak out openly and honestly. They will be more willing to take risks because they won’t have to worry about saving face in front of the opposite gender. Usually, the environments in single-sex classrooms are buzzing with constant talking and ideas. Everyone contributes freely in discussions whereas sometimes in coed schools, students have to be coerced to take part in class discussions. Also, the feelings of strong brotherhood or sisterhood are nurtured in a single-sex environment.
2. A More Specific Curriculum
Single-sex classrooms give the teacher an opportunity to tailor the curriculum. They can design the curriculum in a way that students connect with it. For example, at an all-girls school, the teacher can read books which are of more interest to girls and speak more about their concerns. Jane Eyre or other books with strong, inspiring heroines can be studied in-depth. On the other hand, in an all-boys school, the teacher can teach Hamlet which involves a father-son relationship, and other stories of boys coming-of-age. Single-sex schools allow students to concentrate on such topics.
3. Lesser Cliques
Single-sex schools, particularly girls’ schools, have lesser cliques. They do not have to worry about being seen as popular or impressing boys, which allows them to focus on their studies and forge good friendships with other girls. Similarly, in boys’ schools, the pressure of appearing cool in front of girls is reduced, and hence children tend to be more generous towards their peers and less prone to forming groups that exclude others.
4. Breaking Gender Stereotypes
Students in single-sex schools can be interested or show interest in unconventional subjects without embarrassment. In a boys’ school, male dancers, singers or authors can be invited to speak of their art and boys can ask questions without feeling shy as they would in a coed school. This holds true for subjects like drama, visual arts, and digital arts. In a girls’ school, female athletes or engineers can come and freely give talks where girls can show interest without being branded as too nerdy or tomboyish. Therefore, single-sex schools can free students from gender stereotypes and carry their experiences ahead with them even into their futures. It will prepare them better to face the world and be confident.
What are the Disadvantages of Single-Sex Education?
If there are so many pros of single-sex education, there have to be a few cons as well. Here are a few single-gender education disadvantages:
1. Less Socialising
Girls and boys in single-sex schools may miss out on learning how to socialise with the opposite gender, which can lead them to feel shy or uncomfortable meeting their counterparts outside school. When they face other children of the opposite gender, they don’t always know how to react, as they are unfamiliar with the environment.
2. More Cattiness
In girls’ schools, being only around girls can lead to more cattiness among groups and bullying in some cases. Same is the case in an all-boys school.
3. Less Exposure
Coed schools give opportunities for girls and boys to become true friends with each other and create a foundation for supportive relationships with the opposite sex. Opportunities like these are not available in single-sex schools.
4. Less Time Spent with Friends
Many single-sex schools are far away, so parents usually put their children in a hostel, which means that they spend the week at the hostel and come back during weekends to stay at home. This deprives them the opportunity to see their school friends over the weekend and spend time with them outside the school.
5. Less Positive Influence
Some experts argue that in single-sex schools, the genders miss out on the opportunity to positively influence each other. Boys mature slower and miss out on girls positively affecting them while growing up.
6. Harder to Assimilate in The Future
Since single-sex schools offer a safer, cushier environment, students find it hard to adjust to a mixed-gender society in the future. They might not know how to handle the opposite sex and may experience something akin to a culture shock when they go out into the world on their own.
Coeducation vs Single-Gender Education – How to Decide Which is Best for Your Child?
Coming to the million-dollar question – whether or not is single-sex education better for your child; the best way to decide is to do thorough research about the school you have in your mind. Visit the school and check out the place, structure of the curriculum, whether the teachers are well-equipped to teach it, and if the school has the same values as your family. Consider your child’s wishes as well, because children should have a major say. Think about the environment will allow your children and their respective strengths to flourish. You can also strike a balance between both worlds. For example, you can send your child to a single-sex school and still encourage mingling with the opposite sex during extra-curricular activities away from school or during the weekend.
The bottom line is that single-sex education is actually a throwback to the type of education that existed before the 19th century. It has come back in an evolved and modernised form mainly in the way it is implemented. There is no single verdict on whether it is beneficial or disadvantageous to the children of today. As a parent, it is solely your decision.