Co-Ed v Single Sex Schooling

The December 2011 Monitor, a journal of the American Psychological Association (Vol  42, #11, page 11), reported and expanded on an article originally published in the September
issue of the journal Science.  The article concludes that “contrary to many people’s beliefs, single-sex schooling is not supported by serious scientific research and may actually be harmful to children’s social development”.  The paper was written by eight social scientists and cited several large reviews published over the past few years, all reporting little difference between single and mixed sex academic outcomes.  Dr. Lise Elliott, a neuroscience professor at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago says that the perception of the superiority of single-sex education comes from “an historical accident” namely that the best and most expensive private schools in the US and Europe were traditionally single sex.  But studies now show the benefits of single-sex education disappear when researchers control for demographics and school quality.

Interestingly, the paper also says that single-sex education may increase gender-stereotypical behavior.

I have always appreciated the benefits of mixed sex (or co-ed) schooling but my respect was elevated after witnessing the wonderful ways in which the teens relate to one another at The Family Foundation School.  I recently overheard one of our male students describe his experience to a prospective student and his description centered around the freedom he experienced being able to “just” be friends with girls without the demands and pressures of a sexual relationship.  Furthermore, he beautifully described the girls in his “family” at the school as his sisters – and thus has gotten to know them, and value them as people, as young women rather than the ways teenage boys typically see and relate to girls.  This is quite different than his perspectiveand behavior at home.

So, it’s good to see that the professional and scientific research says that our young men and women are not compromised academically by attending school together, but I know there are even more benefits of a co-ed environment that can’t be measured so easily
– but, when teenage boys learn to respect and value teenage girls because they
are people first, the outcome as they develop into young men is priceless.

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2 Responses to Co-Ed v Single Sex Schooling

  1. Mark Vogel, Ph.D. says:

    As a psychologist who has worked with adolescent populations for 35 years, and with the students at the Family Foundation School for the past 5 years, I could not be in more agreement with Jeff Brain. A major task of adolescence is the development and maturing of socialization, based upon accurate perceptions of others. This is fostered by repeated social experience and exposure which promotes empathy and an appreciation for individuals as people, full and rich in their differences. Isolation from any group, ethnic, religious, or gender, particularly during the adolescent period, leads to stereotyping based upon myth, fantasy, and hearsay. Gender separation is bound to foster objectification of the opposing gender based upon sexual characteristics, and a lack of recognition of the opposing gender as real people with real feelings. The result is young adults with stunted and perhaps irresponsible social skills. What a waste of essential learning opportunities it is to separate the genders during their adolescent years.

  2. Petr Balabanov says:

    I strongly agree with Dr Jeff Brain and positive notice of Mark Vogel about Jeff Brain
    I was 8 years (11-19) in military school for young boys whose fathers died at WW2.
    We can discuss about it in March when I’ll come to visit my son Alex.
    Shortly: 1.Single school (especially military) has priceless positive effects on the future life of their students.
    2.”…lack of recognition of the opposing gender..” made us not ready to built real standard (sorry for term) family. With perfect careers almost all of us-123 boys in my company (or class) – were unhappy in our personal life. Roots of that unhappiness
    were based, I believe , at our single school.
    3. FFS has this potential and conditions to prepare its students for real life and real family obligations. You are successful providing good education, building civil
    principles, including counsellor program, self-esteem program, etc.

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