The Possible Value of Single-Sex Education
A new study to be published Friday from the American Council for CoEducational Schooling asserts that “sex-segregated education is deeply misguided and often justified by weak, cherry-picked or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence.” The study argues that single-sex education reduces boys’ and girls’ opportunities to work together, and reinforces sex stereotypes.
“Boys who spend more time with other boys become increasingly aggressive,” the New York Times quoted from the article. “Similarly, girls who spend more time with other girls become more sex-typed.”
I think that single-sex education is one of those things that should have a middle ground solution. I don't think that all or none of the classes should be all the same sex. I think that some classes may better serve students if taught to a class of all girls or all boys, such as physical education or personal health. In P.E, girls won't have to compete against the boys, or feel left out of the sports when boys only want to play with each other. In personal health, each gender may feel comfortable asking about their own bodies, as well as the other sex, in front of their own gender. When it comes to academic subjects like science and math, I see no reason to split the sexes.
One thing that's unclear about the study from the New York Times article is what age group, or groups, the researchers studied. I think the results would be different depending on whether the researchers studied kindergarteners, fifth graders, or ninth graders. From personal experience, I think that the younger ages are a better place for single-sex education, while the higher grade levels could better benefit from mixed gender classes.
Overall, this is a topic that still needs additional research, and perhaps additional experimentation. Perhaps more surveys ought to be done with the students themselves to see what they prefer. Maybe, catering to student preferences may be the best way to go.