The merits of grouping students into single-sex classrooms have been debated for years: Does grouping students give either sex an advantage? Is it worth the expense? For school districts who want the best learning environment for their students, discussing the pros and cons of gender grouping is an ongoing issue.
The cost of implementing separate gender classrooms is one of the biggest drawbacks for many districts. Separate gender classes mean doubling the number of classes offered during the day and would require more teachers. Those teachers may also need training in working specifically with one gender. Even though learning styles differ across both genders, some teachers need help differentiating for single genders. Others argue teachers are trained to work with learning difficulties, which manifest themselves basically the same across both genders, negating the need for separate gender training.
Considering the work force is not separated by gender, most critics point to this fact as the most negative consequence of separate classes. Students need the opportunity to learn how to work well with other people of both genders in order to function best in the working world. However, single-gender classrooms allow for students to shine at fields not considered normal for their gender; girls can excel at math and science without fear of ridicule, and boys can explore writing poetry, studying music and other academic skills sometimes considered more feminine.
Proponents of single-sex classrooms point to a lack of disruptions as a major factor in choosing separate gender classes. Girls and boys don’t feel the need to disrupt class to show off for the opposite sex. However, some researchers say studies on this factor are skewed due to the fact most separate-gender classes are chosen voluntarily or are only studied in private school environments, which operate differently from public schools.
Some feel segregation of genders actually increases long-term gender discrimination since passivity in girls and aggressiveness in boys is both encouraged and enhanced by the single-sex environment. Researchers feel any segregation, for whatever reason, hinders students’ development, and schools should focus instead on increasing diversity within the school itself. Others feel the lack of pressure from the opposite sex will allow students to focus on studies and academic achievement. However, both sides agree the issue should be one of parental choice, and it comes down to what’s best for the individual students.
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