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Single gender schools are better for students than co-ed schools in grades K-12 Please help my debate team find sources for and against this topic.   Single gender schools are better for students than co-ed schools in grades K-12

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I am not in favor of single-gender schools, but from a strictly scholastic point of view, they would probably improve the quality of learning for its students. The distractions of sexual interest would be virtually eliminated; however, the social ramifications of limited contact with the opposite sex could lead to even greater problems down the road. 

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Never having personally been exposed, whether as a student or teacher, to single-gender schools, my opinions are based on intuitive experience as a teacher in public schools for forty-one years. There are some students who will learn and be ready for college and adult life if they were placed in solitary rooms by themselves.  There are those students who learn in a co-educational setting and matriculate well. Additionally, there are some students who could benefit from the lack of extraneous influence of his hormones and making the focus of attention on learning that the single-gendered setting would provide.  

In doing research, the single gender school seems appropriate for certain students:

Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy boasts of some remarkable statistics: In 2006, only 4 percent of the inaugural freshman class at the school — a public all-male, predominantly black high school located in one of the city’s most beleaguered neighborhoods — could read at grade level. Yet in May [2011], 100 percent of the school’s seniors had been accepted to four-year colleges or universities, many on full academic scholarships.

The educational experts who have examined this program attribute the students’ success to several reasons:

  • Eight-hour school days
  • Double periods of English and reading
  • Focus of college
  • The single-sex format with methods used to illicit the focus of young men

Of course, there are arguments for both sides.  The psychologists will quickly allude to the lack of interaction between the sexes which is a valid statement. 

In today’s world of texting, shopping malls, and other technological avenues, the sexes have no problem finding each other.  Working together in groups in a learning situation may be found in the college setting. 

Having experienced the influence on learning in the co-ed setting, there are some students who could benefit by focusing less on the opposite gender and more on their learning.  If this would occur in a single-gender setting, even in the public schools, it might be good to have classes for only one gender as a potential for those students who are too greatly influenced by wanting to get the attention of the opposite sex. Of course, if the student were still in a co-ed environment outside of the class, the single-gendered classes might not be enough to gain the entire focus of that student. However, it might be worth a try. 

In the lower grades, boys are often more immature and create discipline problems for the teacher.  If the boys and girls were separated, the teacher would be able to vary her approach the separate sex classes to counteract the maturity of each of the sexes. 

Both might profit by the separation in this situation. Florida State University psychology professor Roy F. Baumeister, PhD, states that American schools have many problems and there is not just one solution.  According to Baumeister, the research suggests that experiments in all kinds of learning situations should be continued.  No one school is best for all learners. The learning place should fit the needs of the students.

“Many boys and girls do fine with coed schools, but some do better in same-sex schools,” Baumeister says. “Society can benefit from choice and diversity, so let’s offer options.” 

As in most learning environments, the teacher will make all the difference.  The level of instruction with a well-versed teacher will be good whether it is co-educational or single-gendered.  According to the latest study by the Department of Education, the learning is about the same in both situations.

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Some interesting research has been done on the topic of single gender schools in overcoming the gender gap in education, suggesting that over the last thirty years, major progress has been made, and single education schools have played a factor in the rise in equity between male and female students.  The homepage for WISE (Working to Improve Schools and Education) from Ithaca University has a whole list of pdf articles and links over this topic that could be incorporated for your debate topic; while some of the topics do not focus solely on the advantages of single gender school, the research concerning gender gap issues in education could easily be incorporated to support your argument.

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Certainly, there have been studies done on same-gender classes as well as same-gender schools.  One need only research the Catholic schools in metropolitan areas which have a history of single gender enrollment.  From the Midwest/Chicago area there is Brother Rice High School for boys, and Mother MacCauley for girls on the South Side, for instance.

In recent years there has been a renewal of same-sex classes in some schools.  For example, in order to encourage girls, some schools are having same gender science and math classes so that females do not feel intimidated by members of the oppositie sex.  Newsweek and Time carried stories in the late 1990's and early 2000's on this topic.

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Many valid arguments can be made in favor of and and in opposition to proposals for single gender schools. You should be able to find a multitude of resources by consulting sources dealing with decisions parents need to make while raising their children, resources serving teachers, resources developed within the fields of psychology or social adjustment for children. By entering "single sex schooling pros and cons" into a Google search, you will find links to a multitude of articles from the general press, from educational journals, from parenting magazines, and from many other relevant sources.


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The major argument in favor of single-sex schools is that they allow children of both sexes to learn more effectively.  Children who go to school only with others of the same sex have two advantages in this view.  First, they can all be taught in ways that are more likely to be useful to them.  If boys and girls tend to learn differently, it makes sense to teach them in single-sex schools so that the teaching can be tailored to their preferences.  Second, they do not have to worry about the opposite sex.  Girls, for example, do not have to worry that it is unfeminine to show interest in math and science.  Kids of both sexes can forget about impressing members of the other sex and focus more on school.

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