Choosing the type of education your child should receive can be one of the most important decisions you make. For most of the 20th century, single-gender schools were thought to be advantageous to learning because of the different learning styles of boys and girls, and fewer distractions caused by the opposite sex. In 2011, however, research published by Penn State University showed that there is no evidence that single-sex schools generate positive effects when compared to coeducational schools.
Children spend their formative years in the classroom developing skills that will help them maintain relationships throughout their lives. If your child has little exposure to the opposite sex, building meaningful friendships and even successful romantic relationships can be difficult. Research published by Dr. Lynn Liben in 2011 shows that there is strong evidence of negative consequences accompanying segregating by sex and that doing so promotes the development of negative gender stereotypes.
Research conducted at Arizona State University in 2011 shows that classes that separate boys and girls can be detrimental to the personal and social growth of both sexes. As boys and girls spend time apart and do not learn about each other or from each other, negative stereotypes are reinforced. Lynn Liben's research backs this up, showing that when separated for just two weeks, students played less with children of the opposite sex and held traditional stereotypical gender views.
A 2007 study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health found very little difference between the male and female adolescent brain when it came to learning styles. A popularly held misconception throughout the latter part of the 20th century was that boys and girls learned differently and thus benefited from being separated when it came to education. The American Council on Education states that there is a far greater achievement gap between students in different racial and socioeconomic groups than between boys and girls.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a law suit in federal court in 2008 stating that single-sex education in public schools is illegal and discriminatory. Many legal opponents of single-sex schools argue that this practice violates a number of state and federal laws, most notably Title IX, which was passed in 1972 and promotes gender equality. While a majority of single-sex schools are private, the legality of single-sex public schools is, as of May 2013, under interpretation.
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- Penn State: News: Sex Segregation in Schools Detrimental to Equality
- American Psychological Association: Coed versus Single-Sex Education; Amy Novotney
- Arizona State University: Researchers: Coed Schools Provide Societal Benefits Over Single-Sex Classes
- Great Schools: Single Sex Education: The Pros and Cons; Kristin Stanberry
- U.S. Department of Education: Single-Sex Versus Coeducation Schooling: A Systematic Review
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images