For generations, people have argued whether single-gender education or co-ed educational systems are better. In the past, girls and boys were taught fundamentals together, but were separated for the upper grades. Many girls never passed the basics of elementary education, and few went to university. Because of this, university education was predominantly men only. However, when women started fighting their way into education, most traditional colleges still kept rejecting them and accepting men only.
This lead to the creation of women’s only colleges and universities that are still around today. Over the years, schools removed much of the gender segregation seen in all levels of classes. However, some people still believe that single-gender education is beneficial, and they are not necessarily wrong!
There are pros and cons for each side of the issue. In some cases, single-gender education can provide benefits over dual-gender education. In other cases, teaching members of both genders together has benefits that single-gender education does not. Before you decide which form of education you prefer, it can be helpful to examine the pros and cons of each side.
Pros for Single-Gender Education
Perhaps the main objection to dual-gender education is the issue of distraction. When boys and girls are young, many of them do not want to involve themselves with the other gender that is usually seen as the enemy, which can lead to conflicts in the classroom. As children age, the opposite problem can occur – students of both genders are getting more and more interested in each other. The presence of the opposite gender can lead to distraction due to hormones and attraction issues.
Single-gender education can also eliminate traditional gender stereotypes and roles. When there is only one gender in the school, the students fulfill all roles. There are no stereotypes about girls who are too smart, girls that are too pretty to learn, boys who just don’t have any interest in science or reading, and other common roles that boys and girls tend to fall into when in mixed groups. These stereotypes are not always positive, and not having them carved in stone could help developing students adapt to their changing personality better, which could lead to a healthier approach to assuming roles as a grown up.
Another way that single-gender education is good is that teachers can teach to the specific needs of each gender. Boys often learn quite differently from girls, and it can be helpful to address the unique learning needs of each gender – this way, teachers are able to specialize in one or the other gender’s needs, and earn more experience in teaching to members of that gender. This means that time spent in the classroom can eventually be more effective, the quality of learning ameliorated.
Cons of Single-Gender Education
Although there are several benefits to single-gender education, there are also some problems with it. Too gender-specific teaching styles can cause some children to have difficulty learning, and highly specialized teachers might be less flexible to the different needs of each student. Not all girls function well in traditional classroom settings, and not all boys want to see constant action or sports-related learning in the classroom. Children learn differently no matter what gender they are, and it is important to address children as individuals, rather than simply as boys or girls, which is just easier to obtain for a teacher dealing with members of both genders in the classroom.
Another problem with single-gender education is that students do not learn to function in real-world environments. Most students who grow up and socialize in single-gender schools feel awkward and strange around members of the opposite gender. This could obviously lead to problems in their later life when these students transition to co-ed schools or real life job environments, where, naturally, they will have to build professional relationships regardless of gender.
Strangely enough, many educational studies point to the fact that students in mixed groups often perform better than students in single-gender education systems. Something about the competition and drive that is stirred up in co-ed groups makes it easier for both girls and boys to learn. This is true for every age group from elementary all the way through college and that is something really important to bear in mind when choosing a school for the little one in the family.
For the most part, both single-gender and co-ed schools have benefits to students. Parents may wish to try both methods to see if their children thrive better in one environment than another. Single-gender education is seeing a comeback, so today’s parents have more options for education than ever, but it’s important to make an informed decision in the matter.
Guest blogger Kate Simmons is an occasional blogger on topics related to education and business. She is currently pursuing studies at Strayer University.