Reading: / Note Completion / Part 3

Co-Educational versus singe sex Classrooms

It seems that across the western world, an increasing number parents are opting to return to more traditional divisions with regards their children’s education, with a significant rise in most western countries of single sex classrooms, in which the classroom set up involves the teacher working with only boys or only girls.  For many, the issue is whether to opt for a mode of teaching that improves a child’s academic learning or to choose a coeducational schooling offering a more ‘rounded’ education.  There is no doubt that boys and girls have a very different way of learning, with research showing that boys learn better through movement, sound and touch, whereas girls learn better through visual and oral means.  One clear advantage of a single sex educational setting is that the teacher is able to focus on specific styles of teaching to the gender they are teaching.  Naturally, the resurgence of single sex education has meant that many teachers have had to undergo additional in appropriate techniques for the environment. 

There are many potential advantages for children studying in single sex schools. Some children succeed in single sex schools because of the lack of social pressure -children are more able to learn and grow at their own pace without the pressure commonly found between the genders in co-educational schools.  Research done in a single sex school concluded that students thrived in what often became a close-knit environment with closer interaction with teachers.  In surveys of over 1000 single sex schools, it was reported that not having the opposite sex around was ‘missed’, but the absence of boys or girls allowed students to have a more direct and serious approach to their education.

In many western countries, the traditional way of thinking around thirty years ago was that coeducation would somehow break down gender stereotypes, but this hasn’t always proved to be the case. The advocates of single sex education argue that boys in coeducational settings are less likely to study the arts or advanced academic subjects just to avoid the social categorization of certain subjects as being more in the feminine realm. Equally, girls may tend avoid the sciences and technology subjects as this has traditional been more of a male domain. Single sex schools are flourishing once again as parents realise that allowing their son or daughter to learn in his or her own individual way is a very important consideration in choosing a school.

For students attending single-sex secondary schools, there was a slight tendency for males to outperform females. In contrast, for students attending co-educational schools, there was a clear tendency for females to outperform males.   It was also noted that in single sex schools girls were more likely to be involved in leadership activities such as student councils, athletic associations, and other activities additional to the school timetable.  Accordingly, girls have reported to have favoured single sex schools as co-educational environments tend to be dominated by males, a situation often perpetuated by teaching staff.

Regardless of increased levels of academic performance and preference, a small percentage of people concerned about gender equality have argued against single-sex education as an ethical issue, in that forced separation between the sexes is forced on students. In order for schools to run single-sex classrooms, they must also offer parents the opportunity to enrol their children in a traditional co-educational classroom. 

In regards to those who may oppose gender segregation in schools, many advocates of the idea believe single-sex classes actually negate gender stereotypes. As mentioned earlier, in a mixed classroom, boys tend to avoid tasks related to the arts while girls show lack of interest in science and technology. However, in single-sex environments, there is no existing bias that “this is for boys” or “that is for girls.” In fact, a 2005 study released by Cambridge University showed that in single-sex rooms, as compared to traditional settings, girls are more interested in math and science, subjects generally preferred by boys in co-educational settings.

It is important to remember that coeducation is a modern concept, introduced into mainstream education less than fifty years ago, despite being a change which has brought huge changes to the societies in which this method is observed. It was first introduced in Switzerland, and swept quickly around most western countries, and is certainly not without its benefits.  Parents have said that a coeducational classroom has been excellent for their children’s confidence levels, has helped them to overcome issues such as shyness and helped students to converse about everyday topics with the opposite gender.  Surveys have also shown that a higher percentage of girls in the classroom lower classroom disruption, also creating a better relationship between the students and the teacher. 

Which type of schooling is best comes down to what suits the individual child and which environment they best thrive in, therefore parents are recommended to seek advice and do their research before making that all important decision.

Questions 1 - 5

Complete the notes below USING NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS

Co-educational schools

  • intended to reduce gender (1)________, but actually may not be successful
  • started in (2)_______ but quickly spread
  • allow students to (3)_______ more easily with opposite sex about general topics

Single sex schools

  • girls have higher interest in traditionally male dominated (4)______
  • often have better relationship with (5)________