Single-sex education

Single-sex education

Single-sex education (SSE) is the practice of conducting education where male and female students attend separate "classes" or in separate buildings or schools. The practice was predominant before the mid-twentieth century, particularly in secondary education and higher education. Single-sex education is often advocated on the basis of tradition, as well as religious or cultural values. It is practiced in many parts of the world. A number of studies starting in the 1990s are showing statistical data that children from single-sex schools are outperforming students from coeducational schoolsFact|date=February 2008, however, other studies suggest that these are non-conclusiveFact|date=February 2008. In 2002, because of these studies and bipartisan support, the US law of 1972 that made coeducation in public schools mandatory was revoked and funding was given in support of the single-sex option. There are now associations of parents who are advocating for single-sex education.

According to supporters, gender roles can be subverted in a single-sex environment; boys will be more likely to pursue the arts, and girls more likely to pursue mathematics and science. Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir, an Icelandic educator who introduced single-sex kindergarten to Iceland in 1989, stated: "Both sexes seek tasks they know. They select behavior they know and consider appropriate for their sex. In mixed schools, each sex monopolises its stereotyped tasks and behavior so the sex that really needs to practice new things never gets the opportunity. Thus, mixed-sex schools support and increase the old traditional roles."

There are some neurological and chemical differences that can be observed in adults. The average woman is believed to use the left hemisphere of the brain more often; this area of the brain is associated with speaking, reading and writing. Likewise their frontal lobe (facilitates speech, thought and emotion) is more active. Some argue that this must thus hold true for girls of all ages as well. [ Gurian, M., Henly, P., Truman, T. (2001). "Boys and girls learn differently!" San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.] Thus, girls retain and process information better with open ended assignments that allow them to fully express themselves. [ Ferarra, 2005. The single gender middle school classroom: A close-up look at gender differences in learning. The "Australian Association for Research in Education" Retrieved from: ]

According to some studies (Kadidy & Ditty, 2001, Elliot, 1971, Cone-Wesson & Ramirez, 1998) females hear better than males which would call for males to sit closer to the front of the classroom to hear instruction better; as males usually are seated in the rear of the classroom, this would be a change from the traditional seating arrangement. Also females have higher levels of estrogen in the brain which reduce aggressive behavior and is thought to create a calmer classroom atmosphere. [ Gurian, M., Henly, P., Truman, T. (2001). "Boys and girls learn differently!" San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ] They are also more likely to assume a leadership role in a single-gendered classroom than a co-educational one. [ Grossman, H. & Grossman, S. (1994). "Gender issues in education". Massachusetts: Allyn and Bacon.]

Without the presence of the opposite sex, it is believed, students will be less distracted from their academics.Fact|date=February 2008 As well, teachers will have the ability to devote more time to instruction and less to discipline.Fact|date=February 2008

In short, some argue that all males and females receive and process information differently, hear and see differently, and develop at different pacesFact|date=February 2008; therefore, they argue, different teaching styles and classroom structures should be adopted to accommodate both sexes.Fact|date=February 2008 Further research involving classroom observation and gender specific instruction implementation should be monitored and considered, especially concerning the differences within a group of one sex as opposed to the rest of the class.Fact|date=February 2008

Supporters argue that socialization is not the same as putting together, but is a matter of educating in habits such as respect, generosity, fairness, loyalty, courtesy, etc. And this can be done with more success knowing the distinct tendencies of boys and girls.

Defenders also state that there are more teenage pregnancies and sexual harassment cases in coeducational schools. Catholics usually refer to teachings of Pope Pius XI in 1929. He wrote an encyclical entitled "Christian Education of Youth" where he addressed the topic of coeducation. He said: "False also and harmful to Christian education is the so-called method "co-education". This too, by many of its supporters is founded upon naturalism and the denial of original sin."


According to defenders of coeducation, segregated learning facilities are inherently unequal. System bias will reinforce gender stereotypes and perpetuate societal inequalities in opportunities afforded to males and females. Single-sex schools in fact accentuate gender-based educational limitations and discrimination. Boys' schools may not offer home economics classes, while girls' schools may not offer metalwork, woodwork or as wide a variety of sports.

Critics of the single sex education argue that without the presence of the opposite sex, students are denied a learning environment representative of real life. This deprives them of the opportunity to develop skills for interaction with peers of both genders in their work environment and fosters ignorance and prejudice toward the other gender.

chools & Institutions


A single-sex school is a school that advocates single-sex education. This has been the traditional situation for independent schools, especially public schools and grammar schools in the United Kingdom, but many of these have now become coeducational. In the state sector of the U.K. education system, the only single-sex primary schools are Winterbourne Junior Boys' School and Winterbourne Junior Girls' School (both in the London Borough of Croydon). The number of single-sex state schools has fallen from nearly 2,500 to just over 400 in 40 years. According to Alan Smithers, Professor of Education at Buckingham University, there was no evidence that single-sex schools were consistently superior. In Hong Kong, where 10 per cent of schools are single-sex, girls appeared to do better. But in Belgium, where single-sex schools are in the minority, boys and girls who study together get the best results. [cite web|url=,,1805434,00.html|title= Single-sex schools 'no benefit for girls'|work=Guardian Unlimited|author=Anushka Asthana|date=2006-06-25|accessdate=2007-08-17]


In the United States, single-sex public schools are in many cases considered unconstitutional, for similar reasons against racial segregation in schools before the civil rights movement. Equal but separate is viewed to never be possible. [cite web|url= Cornell|title= Can separate ever be equal in public single-sex schools? Cornell law professor says issue still has to be resolved|work=Cornell University News Service|author=|date=2005-04-05|accessdate=2007-08-17] However, new federal rules introduced in October 2006 allow districts to create single-sex schools and classes as long as enrollment is voluntary. The number of public schools exclusively for boys or girls in the United States rose from 3 in 1995 to 241 in 2006, according to Leonard Sax, executive director of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education. [cite web|url=|title= Correction Appended|work=New York Times|author=Diana Jean Schemo|date=2006-10-25|accessdate=2007-08-17]


In Australia, the proportion of students from independent schools attending single-sex schools, dropped from 31% in 1985 to 24% in 1995. In secondary schools, 55% of boys and 54% of girls went to single-sex schools, in 1985. However by 1995 the proportion attending single-sex secondary schools had dropped to 41% of boys and 45% of girls. [ [!OpenDocument Australian Bureau of Statistics] Retrieved August 17 2007]

Middle East

However, in the Middle East in most schools it is mandatory for schools to be single-sex schools. Each school accepts boys or girls exclusively. In places where sharia is the law students attend sex-segregated public schools. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, sex-segregated public schools have been in place since the Islamic Revolution. [ [ AdventureDivas: IRAN: Groundwork ] ]

In some areas of Pakistan, policies that require single-sex schools may limit girls' opportunities, when, as a result of such policies, only schools for boys are established. [cite web|url=|title= Getting All Girls into School|work=Finance and Development|author=Maureen A. Lewis and Marlaine E. Lockheed|date=2007-06-01|accessdate=2007-08-17]

New Systems Adopting Single-Sex Education

In February 2008, Greene County School District in Greensboro, Georgia voted to implement a system-wide conversion to single sex academies. The superintendent plans to renovate the existing middle school to accommodate the new girl's academy, as of yet the two schools proposed to house the separate academies do not have equitable facilities. The academies are to be up and running by August 2008 [cite web|url=|title=Greene County Single Gender Academies] . "We decided to go to single gender for one reason and one reason only…to help kids get across the finish line," said Greene County Superintendent Shawn Arevalo McCollough, on an interview with the American media. "The facts are when you implement single gender classrooms, you have an increase in test scores and achievement and a decrease in teen pregnancy and discipline rates," he believed. However, the new federal rules introduced in October 2006 only allow single-sex schools and classes to be implemented if students voluntarily enroll into the new gender separated system. Since Greene County does not currently offer alternative public schooling, there is still some question as to the legality of the superintendent's decision.

ee also

*Sex segregation
*Men's colleges
*Women's colleges


* JOSSEY-BASS (Ed): "Gender in Education". Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2002.

* FIZE, Michel: "Les pièges de la mixité scolaire". Presses de la Renaissance, 2003.

* SALOMONE, Rosemary C.: "Same, different, equal : rethinking single-sex schooling". New Haven : Yale University Press, c 2003.

* CAMPS, Jaume & VIDAL, Enric (Ed): "Familia, Educación y Género". Monografias IESF n. 1, Instituto de Estudios Superiores de la Familia, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona, abril 2007.

* RIORDAN, Cornelius: "The Effects of Single Sex Schools: What Do We Know?", "Lectures and Papers", First World Congress of Single-Sex Education (EASSE), Barcelona, 2007.

* VIDAL, E. (Ed). "Diferentes, iguales, ¿juntos? Educación diferenciada". Ariel, Barcelona, 2006.

* Poláček, Klement, "La scuola mista o con separazione per sesso. La ricerca internazionale", in "Annali della Pubblica Istruzione", n° 3-4/1998.

* Zanniello, Giuseppe (a cura di), (2007) "Maschi e femmine a scuola. Le differenze di genere in educazione", S.E.I., Torino.

* La Marca, Alessandra (a cura di), (2007) "La valorizzazione delle specificità maschili e femminili. Una didattica differenziata per le alunne e per gli alunni", Armando, Roma.


External links

* [ National Association for single sex public education]
* [] Single-sex Education Forum
* [ Boys' Education]
* []
* [ Coeducation Revisited for the 21st Century] -- by Fr. John McCloskey
* [ Single-sex schooling] -- by Andrew Mullins
* [ Single-Sex Education vs Co-Education: Female Academic Performance Factors] -- by Stephanie Carlton
* [] Single-sex and co-educational schooling: Lifecourse consequences?

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