The Fallacies of Single-Sex Education

Geoffrey Dochat, editor

Prior to the early twentieth century, most, if not all, schools were single-sex oriented. Although a majority of modern public schools are open to both boys and girls, many schools still embrace this traditional style of teaching. Private schools are known for their gender-restricting policies; it is predicated upon religion or the traditional—and ridiculous—notion that boys and girls distract each other and learn differently. This outdated and outlandish idea of separating genders to learn has not only been inconclusive in research but will most likely harm a student’s social capabilities for their future endeavors. Some people argue that single-sex schools can provide a regulated environment that is more inclusive and focused on everyone in attendance. A 2007 neuroimaging study conducted by the National Institute of MentalHealth compared the development of boy’s and girl’s brains. It was discovered that the brain’s visual processor, the occipital lobe, experiences a rapid growth in girls between the ages of 6-10, while boys experience this growth after the age of 14. However, there is little evidence to prove that these small differences can affect children’s learning at the individual level. The Psychological Bulletin published an analysis of 242 studies examining boys and girl’s performances in mathematics and found that both genders performed relatively equal. I think it is nonsensical to assume that every child will develop better and learn more efficiently when surrounded by peers with the same gender as them. It is also ineffective to limit interaction with other members of society; you need to be able to effectively communicate with someone of the opposite gender in the workforce or any social environment. If a man does not possess the social capabilities of holding a conversation with a woman because he has little experience doing such, he is harming both himself and her. Private schools, the most common culprits of same- sex schooling, claim to provide an “educational advantage” over public schools, and this results in many parents forcing their kids into these schools. But the lack of diversity and sheer sum of money you end up forking over to the aristocratic board-members of these schools isn’t helping your kids. Think about this beyond a purely educational standpoint. What kind of message are we sending to kids when we force them to be separate from the opposite sex? We basically are advocating gender segregation in children’s most formative years, and it isn’t going to help them lead a successful or healthy life. How are people supposed to be able to form intimate relationships if they have no experience interacting with the opposite sex? This will only slow the already decreasing marriage and birth rates. The bottom line is this: the research on the differences in learning abilities and behaviors has proved mostly inconclusive. Claims have been made, but it’s all variable. To say that all boys learn differently than all girls is unrealistic. Single-sex education operates on a poorly supported ideology that clings to traditional, idiosyncratic methods of education. I think it’s time we stop holding on to the past. After all, we are the future.