Single-sex high schools, boarding schools and colleges have their advantages, but they aren't for everyone. Some students prefer to study in an environment that offers both male and female perspectives and provides a way to build relationships with both sexes. Even though students at single-sex schools don't interact with the opposite sex on a daily basis in the classroom, many schools provide activities on weekends that both males and females can attend.
A positive argument for single-sex schools is the educational opportunity it provides. In coed schools, females are often stereotyped as being weak in math and science, and males are stereotyped as being weak in language arts. At single-sex schools, males and females can explore educational opportunities without being constrained by expectations, stereotypes or prejudices. For example, girls at single-sex schools are more likely to explore nontraditional subjects and are encouraged to be daring and invest in subjects they might otherwise not try, according to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education.
A benefit of single-sex schools is customized learning. Because boys and girls learn material in different ways and have specialized methods for exploring new subjects, teachers can customize their teaching strategies to meet gender-specific needs. For example, some girls have longer attention spans and might not need to change settings or take breaks as frequently as boys. On the other hand, some boys can set up science equipment and visualize academic concepts faster than girls. Specialized teaching is referred to as differentiated instruction and is much easier to implement in a same-sex classroom than a coed classroom, says the National Association for Single Sex Public Education.
Single-sex schools can create problems for students who don't have defined gender-specific personalities. Not all males have the same temperament and not all females have the same disposition. As a result, gender differences in learning aren't always the same. For example, a sensitive, conversational, artistic boy might struggle in an all boys' classroom, and an assertive, domineering, competitive girl might not get along well with highly feminine peers. The teaching style in a single-sex classroom could be ineffective or detrimental for students who don't have gender-specific personalities, according to the Great Schools website.
Single-sex schools are disadvantageous when students don't learn how to communicate and interact with members of the opposite sex. Many students from single-sex classrooms eventually work in coed offices and must be able to converse with clients and coworkers of both genders. They might join coed community organizations, clubs or religious groups. Students in single-sex schools have limited opportunity to connect with members of the opposite sex and learn how to work cooperatively on projects and assignments, according to Great Schools.
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