A single-gender classroom is one in which boys or girls are isolated from members of the other gender for educational purposes. While both private schools and public schools use gender-specific strategies, the practice is controversial. Critics note the potential for gender discrimination and the inability to learn how to function in a coed environment. However, several benefits are noted for girls in a single-gender classroom.
Girls and boys generally demonstrate different strengths in early education. Girls tend to show more interest and ability in verbal and written communication skills, according to the website of educational organization ASCD. Girls also tend to convey more empathy at young ages. A girls-only classroom allows teachers to focus on helping girls make use of and enhance their strengths through regular verbal and written communication activities and projects.
In coed settings, girls tend to be less assertive and daring than they are when isolated in a single-gender environment, according to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education website. Along with enhancing natural skills, single-gender classes can help girls develop assertiveness and leadership by incorporating activities and training methods that encourage daring. This type of personality development helps prepare young women to feel like they have a significant voice when they enter the workforce.
The NASSPE site also contradicts critics who note that single-gender schools prevent girls from learning to develop positive relationships with boys. Instead, NASSPE notes that girls learn to have more autonomy and control over their relationship choices without facing the pressure of boy-girl relationships common in coed schools. The development of relationship empowerment may actually benefit girls in relationships with males later in life. Fewer unwanted pregnancies are a related benefit to girls-only schools, according to NASSPE.
In its "Research Spotlight on Single-Gender Education," the National Education Association notes that girl-only classes help protect against instinctive tendencies of teachers in coed classes. In mixed-gender classes, teachers tend to call on boys more often and encourage boys to engage in more dominant roles relative to female peers. In a girls-only setting, teachers don't face the pull of ingrained cultural stereotypes toward gender. Thus, girls have opportunities to feel empowered and to develop dominant, leadership qualities.
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