Single-sex schoolsI've always thought it would be interesting to teach in a single-sex school--and not just because I love Dead Poets Society.  It just seems to me the dynamic and the atmosphere...

Single-sex schools

I've always thought it would be interesting to teach in a single-sex school--and not just because I love Dead Poets Society.  It just seems to me the dynamic and the atmosphere of a class of just boys or just girls would be a fascinating change from that of a co-ed classroom. If you have had this experience, I'd love to hear both what you most enjoy and most dislike about single-sex education.

Expert Answers
amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I used to think this, too, until last year I got my teaching load and discovered that my first period senior class was composed of 27 boys.  No, you didn't misread and I didn't mistype.  I jokingly told the principal that I was quitting, and showed her the roster.  She did not know how in the world that had happened, but offered to shuffle around some kids.  At any rate, I declined and decided to take on the challenge.  Of course, it was like every other class I've ever taught:  some worked very hard, some never came to class, some came to class but slept every day, some came to class and stayed alert but never did any of the homework, and not all of them passed.  In fact, I ended up with only 19 of the original 27 as they dropped out, transferred, went to alternative schools, or changed their schedules.  As a whole, the class was louder (they did not hold back their bodily functions), and more prone to practical joking which sometimes influenced the quality of the learning atmosphere.  When they all read their assignments, our conversations and discussions were wonderful.  When they didn't, it wasn't as much fun.  Of course, this class was a fluke.  If it were expected to be this way every year, perhaps it could be much more productive.


marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I did teach an all-girls class one year, but it wasn't planned that way.  It's just that there were no boys that age that particular year.  It was really fun, especially in the Language Arts areas, report writing, and creative writing!  Girls just seem to do better with the grammar and writing than boys do, and this particular group of girls was about the most creative females I've ever encountered!  But, one of the drawbacks was all the emotional drama you get with young teenage girls!  Sometimes I felt like their mother instead of their teacher, especially when they'd confide in me and tell me things they wouldn't dare tell their parents!

As a mother, I had mostly boys and homeschooled them, so I know what't it like as an all-boy teacher.  If I had to choose, I would teach the co-ed classes because the boys and girls seem to temper each other and things seem more evened out.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have never taught in a single-sex school environment, but I have taught several classes that were almost exclusively single sex. Several of my publications (yearbook/newspaper) classes were nearly all girls--in one class, only the photographer was a boy. He thanked me many times that year for allowing him to be in the class! I have also taught several classes with nearly all males, and I do believe there were less distractions (i.e. showing off) as a result. On a more negative side, one of my principals taught for her entire career at a Catholic school with segregated classrooms where she taught only girls. As a result (or possibly just through personal opinions), she had a severe bias and distrust of both male teachers and male students. She no doubt would have segregated the public school classrooms had she been allowed.

kjcdb8er eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I attended an  all male Catholic school. At the time I wasn't happy about it, but looking back I think it was a great environment. There were fewer distractions, and less showing off than I see now. The school had few discipline problems, although that could have been because the principle was a strong disciplinarian and not afraid to kick the kids out with no refund--a policy that kept the parent's attention on keeping their kids in line. Dating wasn't a problem, as our after school activities were often with our sister school.

I don't have any problem interacting with the opposite sex, or treating girls I work with at the university as colleagues. I don't see a real problem with entering the "real world" after a same-sex school. Furthermore, college more often than not smooths out any problems.

kjcdb8er eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my opinion, a mostly male class is not a good test of whether or not an all-male school would create an environment where some behavior problems would be reduced. It is really the culture of the school that matters. Guy's aren't going to change their behavior patterns for just one class; they're going to interact with their friends in the manner in which they have grown accustomed to in the school and in other classes. Furthermore, even if there are only a few girls in an otherwise all male class, there will still be an incentive to show off, act cool, or whatever other nonsense they think they need to produce if a girl might be watching.

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I haven't worked in a single-sex school, but I have taught middle and high school, as well as several classes that were almost exclusively boys. Based on what I have read in the research, as well as my own observation of the gender dynamics in grades 6-9, I strongly believe that students in those grades should be separated by gender in academic classes.

I think that it makes sense to mix genders in non-academic classes so that they can develop social skills in interacting with the opposite sex. However, it is far too much of a distraction to have girls and boys in the same academic classroom, especially in grades 7 and 8.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like #3, I had all of my high schooling in an all male school, and to be honest I would not have changed it. I do think I did struggle as I was more academic and not so sporty, and in a single sex environment I think there is more pressure to conform and you stick out more if you do not fit the mould, but above all I am very grateful for my education and how it prepared me for the life I am now living. A few girls would have been nice, but because the local girls school was just up the road and there was a park in between our schools, the park became a perfect rendezvous point for lunch-break flirtations :-)

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have not taught in a single sex situation. When I was 22, though, I moved to a city in the mid-west and met a lot of people who had gone to Catholic, single sex high schools. Educationally, they were, of course, fine--the schools could kick out anyone who wasn't working. What I did find was a kind of warped way of perceiving the opposite sex--they were not used to them as colleagues and workers, but only as date material. I'm not sure they were prepared for the "real world" of work. I would love to see some data on work results for those people, especially in the first few years after high school.

martinjmurphy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have taught in an all boys school for one year.  I did not like it.  Having a class of 30 fourteen year old freshmen boys with no girls was horrible.  I will tell you, some of those boys did things that I know they would not have done if a cute fourteen year old girl was sitting next to him.  Girls, especially at the freshmen level, are much more mature than boys that age in general, and that maturity has a calming effect on a class.  I see it at the junior high school level all the time.

antiel | Student

I attend a single sex Catholic girls school, and i believe that single sex schools are better than co-ed schools. This is because girls and boys both learn different things at different speeds as well as learning more effectively by using different teaching methods.Also, single sex schools (especially high schools) provide less distractions or reasons for boys or girls to attempt to show off or provoke the teacher in order to impress the other sex. however , like everything else there are advantages to each option, and i have no doubt that there are also perfectly valid arguments for co-ed schools also.