Do You Believe In Single Sex Education?

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Do You Believe In Single Sex Education?
By Mom101 (Mom101) on Sunday, August 15, 2004 - 10:27 pm: Edit

Interesting article in the SF Chronicle today about feminist groups being opposed to single sex public schools. And the Bush administration, too. What does everyone think?

By Cheers (Cheers) on Sunday, August 15, 2004 - 11:48 pm: Edit

They have single sex public schools in NZ and they seem to be popular. No biggie. Female Prime Minister too. Heaps of feminists who could care less.

I went to a single sex high school and the single sexedness was the only thing I liked. Didn't want to bother with boys 24/7 during high school. (4 brothers).

By Jordana (Jordana) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 12:27 am: Edit

Well I am not a parent, but as a student I really like the idea of single sex schools, or atleast single sex classrooms. Al ot of studies have shown that kids in grades 3-12 learn better in a single sex environment. From what I have read, many public schools are seperating the boys and girls during the core subjects like, English, Math, and Science, but the kids are brought back together for lunch and electives. Most of the kids in these studies have said that having single sex classrooms relieves a lot of stress and most of the students grades have improved. I think that it is a great idea, and it would proabley be a lot easier on the teachers too, not having to deal with all the boy girl drama. I wouldn't really like completly single sex schools though because all children need to learn how to work with the opposite sex.

By Entropicgirl (Entropicgirl) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 04:09 am: Edit

Personally, I'd hate single-sex schools. Sometimes boys can be more straightforward--lots more weird social maneuvering when you get a bunch of girls together. Plus, we need to learn to live with both sexes, together, etc. etc. I want to be a physics major, and it would have been awful to go into the weird sex ratio (75% male, usually) without having had classes with boys before college.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 04:33 am: Edit

I think single-sex schools were once a necessity, but no longer. In this day and age, the abilty to interact closely with members of both sexes in a professional/serious setting is vital. People who attend single-sex schools are not exposed to members of the opposite sex in such a setting. They only interact with them in a social setting. I seldom recommend single sex schools, but I have done so in the past.

By Boysmom (Boysmom) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 08:10 am: Edit

I hated single sex schools. Unlike poster above, I had four sisters and didn't want to be around only girls everywhere. I also agree that I wanted to become more comfortable around males and not think of them as "the opposite sex" but as friends, companions and peers. I finally convinced my parents and went to a coed school. One sister who continued in all girl schools has never felt comfortable around males and giggled when one entered a room.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 08:33 am: Edit

I agree with Alexandre and Boysmom. I attended a single sex college for first 1 1/2yrs. and hated it.Coming from a co ed high school didn't help much.

By Cleveland (Cleveland) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 08:40 am: Edit

We've sent both of our sons to a single sex school and are glad we made that choice. At an all-boys' school, boys are more likely to take risks that they'd be too embarassed to in front of girls---for example, many boys participate in theatre arts and dance (not just the theatre-minded boys you'd find at a coed school). And, they tend to stay more focused during the school day without the distraction of the opposite sex. They still get plenty of opportunities to be around girls, as their school does a lot with 2 all-girls' schools nearby, they see girls in the neighborhood, at work, etc.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 09:53 am: Edit

I was against single sex schools and considered them dinosaurs. Well, both of my girls graduated from all girls schools and loved the experience. And I had nothing but trouble with the boys until I stuck them into an all boys school. What can I say? It works for them. I don't say it works for everyone and I don't know if the public schools should go that way.

I think for a parent whose stomach twists every time the phone rings during a school day, single sex schools seem to be able to handle the shenanigans that the boys tend to pull. I have not heard a word about "doesn't pay attention in class", "has trouble sitting still", "won't follow directions", "can't seem to hear" in any of the all boys schools I have used. Every one of the boys was referred for learning disabilities, hearing problems, behaviorial and emotional problems and plain orneriness in the public schools. The line for ritalin at the nurse's office is ridiculous--can that many kids really need to be drugged? The issues pretty much disappeared when I put them in the single sex schools.

After the Columbine and related school tragedies, several school district, particularly those that fit the Columbine model started instituting profiling and zero tolerance and what I felt were hysterical reactions. My boys had enough issues without going to school with prison tactics. The oldest went from being a juvenile delinquent to a doctor (yes, he has a MD). The next one managed to graduate this year in four years from a top 25 school and was accepted to two ivies. Both of them were on the trouble maker list in the coed public schools and we could forget about any AP courses for them though they were bright young men. I have one in a coed school now after middle school at an all boys school, and a goodly part of my problems with him are the girls. Attractive, charismatic and very interested in the girls, they have been a major distraction and source of problems. An I don't feel so good about those girls either--they would be better off without him around .

Both of my girls were quiet and diligent. Being in an all girls school made a tremendous difference for them. They did far better than their peers in mixed sex schools. They were not superstar students nor did they have magnetic personalities or dominant presence. Their schools seem to really nurture them and encourage them to stretch a little bit with far less stress than a mixed sex or top grade school would have done--not that their school was not very good,; it just did not have a lot of high power students that many of the prep schools, special magnet schools, and top public schools. They were able to focus on their dreams and work without feeling self conscious. One is in medical school now and doing very well, the other is applying to med school next year. Both are engaged to get married and have turned into strong, confident women. They look back at their high school years as truly nurturing and helpful and not one bit stressful. They entered the premed college scene relaxed and confident in themselves, a gift that I believe was great due to the school environment.

Now these are all just personal anecdotes, but do remember that in dealing with 9 kids, I did not have the time to focus on problems,issues, nurturing, helping as many of you parents with 2-3 kids can. I also had health issues, legal issues, money issues, and work as I am raising them. I NEEDED a school that could deal with them warts and all, and the single sex issue really worked well for us. I have seen kids and parents, however, who are adament that it could not, would not work for them, and they may well be right. I believe there is a place for such schools for some of us, however, and as long as there are enough of us to support these schools, I hope the option continues to be available.

I will add, however, that none of my kids wanted to go to single colleges though the girls did apply to some. And I respected that desire and did not push it, though this one coming up may be lucky to end up in an all male college, that may be his best option if he does not watch his step.

By Idler (Idler) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 11:24 am: Edit

We sent both of ours to single sex schools. For our daughter it was a major mistake, and she transferred to a co-ed school in 10th grade, and it made a big, positive difference in all of our lives. Our son transferred to an all-boys school in 6th grade, and it couldn't have worked better for him. We feel very fortunate to live in an area where there is a choice.

By Idler (Idler) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 11:28 am: Edit

Also, I'll add that no one goes from the local girls schools (we have 4 within 15 mins)to all female colleges. Of course the boys have no choice.

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 12:02 pm: Edit

The issue foremost to me is that there are OPTIONS. I think there are benefits of single sex classrooms or schools. These are well documented.

For me, in my youth, I would not have wanted to go to an all girls school or college. That is merely my preference, even though I have nothing against them and see how many do well in such an environment. My recent high school graduate originally was only interested in exploring coed colleges and never looked at women's ones. After all her visits were done near the end of junior year, we came across Smith and how it offered all the criteria she was looking for in a college except that it was all girls. She said to me that while she had not wanted a women's college, she did not want to be closed minded and thought we should go visit it since everything else was appealing. She did end up really loving Smith. She felt she could go there. In fact, after all her acceptances rolled in, and Smith was not one of her favorites originally, she asked to return to three schools for the open house events for admitted students, and Smith was one of the three she had narrowed it down to as far as choosing where to attend. There were many alluring things about Smith to her. After the open house, she said she still loved it. I probed her to make sure if she thought about all aspects and asked what she thought of this or that. Upon reflection she admitted to herself that she likely would prefer a coed school, even though it was hard to let go of Smith. She realized she likes being around boys as friends too. Plus she said she had not really dated in high school and did not want to give up all that that would entail in college. She went to a party at Smith and there were about four boys at the entire event. She went to the open house at Brown the following week and I think it brought home to her how much she really would like a coed school more. The nice part is that she had a choice.

In an earlier post, someone spoke of single sex schools for elem or high school. I would not want to HAVE to send my child to that. However, having those options available would be a good thing. Someone wrote about a school where some classrooms were coed and some were not and that also might be a way of creating a certain kind of classroom environment that would allow some to thrive better. I know that the literature out there supports how girls might take more risks or be more comfortable in a classroom with all girls (not wording this quite right) but in my own daughters' cases, they are not intimidated by boys in the classroom and tend to be active participants in class, initiators, risk takers and leaders. So, for them, the benefits associated with single sex classrooms are not ones they really need that much.

I am surely not against single sex schools. But even when I visited Smith, while I could see what my D liked about it, I really could better see her in a coed environment than a single sex one. I am only saying that in HER case and what I know her to be like. She would be fine in a single sex school but I think she would enjoy the coed one even more. So much of this is an individual thing. I would never advocate coed for everyone. That is why choices are an attractive thing!

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 12:05 pm: Edit

Im a feminist and I have no problem with single sex schools either male or female. I was very interested in a single sex middle school for my youngest but she acted like it had a hex on it. Too bad.
The single sex high school in the area ( Catholic) has a very good reputation, although some feel that there is an old school bias about girls doing anything besides wife/mother and feel that the science/math courses are watered down. However the students do very well at local universities and at top schools.
My older daughter was not interested at all. Especially not for college which I really tried to interest her in as I thought that the womens colleges gave so much more support than co-ed. However she didn't want to be in a single sex environment, most of her friends have always been male, the bulk of her friends that she keeps in touch with this summer have been male, so I imagine it would have been strange for her to go to a school with that focus. The choice should still be there , though.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 12:58 pm: Edit

There are very few all male colleges and not exactly a rush to get into them these days. And the female schools have somewhat lost their lustre, not because the resources are lessened but the demand for them is not there since the top schools have become coed.

I will say that I was not as pleased with the all male high school model as I was with the single sex schools in elementary and middle schools and the all female schools but I cannot put my finger on what it is I did not like.

The fact of the matter is that we do eventually have to mainstream in a coed society of sort and it is of great advantage to be comfortable working and being with both sexes. But while kids are maturing, growing up, some have other needs that should be met and can be met better in a single sex environment. Whatever works, is the mantra most of us harried parents take, and single sex does work better at times. I can tell you that personally, for me, I would not have wanted a single sex education even in my day in elementary, middle or high school. But that was me. I also was not big on religious schools and avoided Catholic schools initially, only to find that it was the best match for some of my kids. It is good to keep an open mind when raising children because you can otherwise forego an option that may be the best solution to some problems.

I am glad to see so many here are open minded on the issue as I have been seeing some rather close minded debates on the subject and on issues such as LACs vs national unis. Most answers are not so black and white and even with those that are, the "best" answer may not be best for you or your child or any specific person. I put my son once in a wonderful private school, a country day type school that I would have loved, thinking that it would be the best possible environment for him. One word: NOPE. But it was for many children and families there. And so it goes with single sex schools and other types of schools.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 01:11 pm: Edit

I was at single sex schools for 3 years. Georgetown Prep in Rockville, MD and Eton in England. Although both schools were excellent academically, I felt they were lacking in some way. I would never subject my children to such an unatural setting.

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 02:01 pm: Edit

Funny, while I've read a great deal on the experience of girls in all girl schools, I've encountered little on boys schools today. My daughter ended up in an all girls school because we moved to an area where it was very tough to get into top schools when she was in an odd grade (3rd), and the best school that took her was all girls. I am grateful for that twist of fate. We later chose an all girls middle school but only considered coed high schools. What I believe is that the all girl school environment has many advantages during the middle years. More focus on academics because of less disruption by boys on many fronts. It's well noted that boys shut girls down in the classroom setting, that they cause more behavior problems, that girls demure to them in math/science. But the thing I'm most grateful for is the fact that the absence of boys allowed my daughter and her classmates to keep their focus on academics, athletics and leadership at school far longer than their peers in coed middle schools. In my part of the world, girls are wearing makeup, dressing prevocatively and talking about their boyfriends at 11 & 12. A friend recently found out her daughter was sexually active at 13, as were her friends. This was just not even a thought among my daughter's classmates, living in the same neighborhoods and being of similar backgrounds and parenting. That delay of a couple of years gave these girls a lot more maturity to deal with teenage issues. A recent letter in Seventeen Magazine, written by the editor, thanked her mother for not letting her shave her legs until she was 18! She said that this prevented her from dating and kept her focussed on school, leadership and what she wanted to do with her life.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 02:33 pm: Edit

I don't have a strong feeling one way or the other. I see benefits and drawbacks with both, and they will vary child to child.

I was a little bit surprised to see my older d. choosing to go from a coed college (Evergreen) to an all-women's one (Smith). (My younger d. is appalled by the very idea! but she also thinks that anyone who chooses to attend an Ivy or a LAC in a cold climate is, to quote her, "sick".)

One of the things I found extremely moving at Smith during their admit days was the attention they were specifically giving to women "as women". This is a far cry from the Smith I remember of 30 years ago (in fact, other than the excellent academics, almost unrecognizable!) They know that women in our society get less training/positive strokes for thinking well financially about their lives, so they established a strong financial network and program, not only for students, but bringing female corporate officers from around the country to the campus to network with each other (and, hopefully, to provide future mentoring for students.) They recognized that older women were often shut out of an education by marriage or other circumstances, and so established a strong program for older women students (ranging in age from 24-69), including helping them think about what to do with the kids. Female students had more difficulty getting internships, so they set up a program not only to help them get them, but to help establish internships in places where none normally existed. An admissions emphasis on female students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Research assistantships for students in their first two years -- originally, this was just in the sciences, to give female students a leg up in graduate admissions (it gets interesting when one looks at grad school admission rates when numbers are disaggregateed by gender), though now extended to other departments. A women's engineering school, etc.

My d. is expecting to enter a profession which is 95% male, and 90% controlled by men. It is true that in a coed environment she would have more experience dealing with men. But it is also true that she would have less training/reflection on how to deal effectively in such a world as a woman. Honestly, I don't know which is better - hey, I'm a guy!

I think there are other issues that as a society we are not dealing with well. Girls are becoming sexually mature approximately 3.2 years sooner than they did around 1900, when high schools were originally designed; boys around 2.6 years sooner. If we wonder why the mess in middle schools these days, much of it has to do with the fact that, in terms of sexual maturity, the students are now where high school students would have been 100 years ago. We haven't rethought what schools are supposed to be like, in that context.

Actually, there are lots of things we haven't thought about!

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 02:39 pm: Edit

The points you made about Smith are certainly true. It does an excellent job catering to women!! Cannot say enough about it. It would have been even more attractive to my D had it been coed, as well, lol.


By Mom101 (Mom101) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 02:52 pm: Edit

The ivys and others going coed forced the sister schools to be an exceptionally attractive place for women, with something genuinely different to offer. Otherwise their selectivity would be on par with 4th tier schools.

By April_Mom04 (April_Mom04) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 05:23 pm: Edit

I have very fond memories of my Catholic all-girls high school education. I fell in love with it the first time I set foot in the door - it was at least 150 years old and sat on a cliff. There were many legends and stories, and it had tunnels underneath to the convent, where the old nuns lived and retired. It was very "Harry-Potterish" and you could hear voices in the walls if you were really quiet.

We had the most stylish uniforms, and we were very proud to be from St. xxx. There was a public school bus that took us from my town. It would stop at the public high school, and I would watch the boys there. The boys all looked at us with wonder, and there was a sense that we were "off-limits".

Every fall, there was a Father-Daughter dance, where my dad taught me to jitterbug and waltz. Then he took me out to dinner to a fancy restaurant downtown. It was a really special evening.

The female nurturing was very strong - it was like a big sorority house where the older students watched out and guided the younger. I wouldn't have traded the experience for the world. It was a very "Bene-Geserit" kind of place, if you read Dune.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 05:46 pm: Edit

I went to Stuyvesant High School when it was still all male. It was unbelievably (and unrelievedly) competitive, more so than any place I have seen since - I often wonder whether competition for girls was displaced onto academics! (folks tell me it isn't much different now, even though it is coed.) Then I went to Eph country. Also all male (rats!) There was actually quite a large number of gay male students, all in the closet except one or two, one of whom is now the only elected openly gay state supreme court justice in the U.S. (in Oregon). No one dared talk about it. The bus trips in driving snowstorms to Smith and, occasionally, to Vassar or Briarcliff (?) are a bad memory. Lucky for me, I was a Bennington type who had been misplaced into a Stuyvesant headset, and I made some friends up the road. (Honestly, Williams was not really a good fit for me - but I only know that in hindsight -- and they truly did give me a GREAT education for which I am forever grateful.) And then later I was at the University of Chicago, where no one seemed to have any gender, from what I could tell. LOL!

April Mom04, I wish your dad could have taught ME to jitterbug and waltz...

By Dstark (Dstark) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 05:59 pm: Edit

Mini, I had no idea you were a male.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 06:09 pm: Edit

Does it matter? LOL!

By Dstark (Dstark) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 06:27 pm: Edit

No. Just pictured you a little differently.

By Mini (Mini) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 06:38 pm: Edit

I could have a moustache either way. And you haven't seen my Julia Child impersonation(had to bring it back out in the past few days....)

By Dstark (Dstark) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 06:41 pm: Edit

I'm not sure I like that visual.

By Marlgirl (Marlgirl) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 12:02 am: Edit

I think having them available would be a good idea. Single sex classes with co-ed schools just seems dumb to me. I've been at an all-girls school since 7th grade. (Mine happens to be a super academic one... perhaps the strongest all-girls school in the nation academically, at least outside of boarding schools.) My school has made all the difference. I have gained more confidence than I ever thought possible since 7th grade-- in fact, I think all my classmates have too. At an all-girls school you can just be yourself. I don't care what people say, it is NOT the same way at a co-ed school. I went to public co-ed schools through 6th grade and I don't miss it a bit. Boys like to goof off in class and disrupt learning. At an all girls school we still have a lot of fun. We don't have boys to disrupt class, so girls take on the role of making it entertaining BUT when it's time to learn we'll focus and get ready to learn. I can interact perfectly well with boys. I just got back from a summer program and probably spent more time around the guys there than the girls (I did in 6th grade too). That's right, I was the type of girl who usually was better friends with boys and I STILL prefer the all-girls environment. I fit in perfectly fine. I fit in well with the girls too. I had more confidence in the classroom than most girls. I don't have a problem with ever asking questions if something doesn't make sense or raising my hand if I know the answer. I think I have much higher self esteem and a better sense of who I am than if I went to a co-ed school. I do have plenty of male friends and I've gone out with guys. The guys I've met have been higher quality guys than the ones at my old high school. Single sex education can be VERY valuable. If any of you parents happen to be considering sending a child to an single sex school (especially all girls, but I have plenty of friends who have gone to a nearby all boys school so I can answer questions about that as well) feel free to email me at

By Cheers (Cheers) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 12:41 am: Edit

Jamimom, more power to you with nine! I too put my children into schools I would have loved. Bingo and the lottery for the whole family on the elementary school, Nada for my first pick of secondary schools. Too competitive and unfriendly.

Then we moved overseas and enrolled them in single sex schools because...that's the culture.

What a relief. We don't find it the least bit unnatural. Instead of labelling the 'loveable rogues' as something dreadful to be medicated, the school invents ninety five ways to bring them round, from a half hour of sweeping on a Friday to six hours of hard labor on a Sunday afternoon.

No institutional experience is perfect, (all run by those silly humans), but I have been surprised re-visiting single sex education.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 12:45 pm: Edit

Yes, at my boys' single sex elementary school, they are shoveling snow around the school for some recesses instead of staying watching videos as many of the public schools here do. They also have to sweep and clean and pick up when they are caught throwing trash or spitballs or other infraction instead of just sitting in detention. There is an early morning homework makeup class that is so unpopular, that after a few sessions, most of those kids decide that getting their homework done on time is a much better option. And making them do it under supervision really helps these boys who are really rewarded in their eyes when they "get away with it " with just a bad grade or zero. They just cannot see that far ahead for that to make an impact. I marvel at the creative solutions to problems that active boys cause in most pubic school venues; but then their specialty is boys for many, many years.

I have been humbled many times in preconceptions I had about many child raising theories and have been forced to be more open minded and face the fact that my opinions are often just that, and not necessarily correct.

By Mom2003 (Mom2003) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 01:27 pm: Edit

I hated the thought of sending my boys to a single sex school. But as fate would have it, the private highschool my older son fell in love with was single sex (catholic). He has thrived there. He misses girls and tries to improve his social life by going to dances organized by other schools etc. But on the whole, his adolescence has been stress free and adventurous. The big advantage is that the school makes an effort to recruit male teachers (a rarity in many coed public schools) and so while they lose on diversity in one area of life (peers) they gain it in another (teachers).

So I guess it works for some kids but like Jamiemom, I would have never imagined a situation in which I would say single-sex schools work (I went to one for a few years and hated it).

By Heffeli (Heffeli) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 01:39 pm: Edit

I went to Smith many years ago and loved it. I am a firm believer in single sex schools for young women at some point in their education. I think young women need to experience a place that caters for them and nurtures their confidence and assertiveness. Things may be different now and girls are more confident but it helped me tremendously. I have worked for the last 25+ years in a male dominated industry successfully and happily (in London) and I chalk it up in large part to my preparation at Smith.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 01:47 pm: Edit

Alexandre -- I went to Stone Ridge for a while. I agree about the unnaturalness of the environment. I did make some good friends and enjoyed some aspects of it, but was uncomfortable around boys for quite some time afterwards. I noticed the same thing with the girls at the girls' school my D attended for two years (she hated it for a variety of reasons).

I think college is a different matter. Smith's parties are actually well known for attracting quite a few young men, I believe. My sister went to Bryn Mawr and had a great experience there, is still in touch w/people twenty some years later. I would have less problem with a women's college than with an all-girls' school. The boy experience is a mystery to me, so can't speak to that!

My D has a lot of friends who are boys, and did in HS as well. Mainly for that reason, she would not consider a women's college.

By Momoffour (Momoffour) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 09:49 pm: Edit

How do the all boy schools deal with the boy behavior that makes the public schools want to medicate them in the classroom?

Shoveling snow and sweeping hallways sounds good but how do they deal with a kid who learns best when he can get up and wander around a bit?

Whenever I have tried to get our public school to apply some consequences for inappropriate behavior I get a "That's not good for their self esteem" response. And I think "sending them to your office (the principal) is good for their esteem?"

By Saturdayoracle (Saturdayoracle) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 11:18 pm: Edit

As a student, I am not considering a women's college nor would I, and would dislike an all-female high school. However, there are certain classes that I would prefer taking with my fellow females - computer science, physics. I'm slightly discouraged when I'm the only girl in the class. I appreciate the fact that I can work with both males and females on school projects and in ECs, but it would be nice if schools could offer some single sex classes. Completely optional, of course.

By Bettina (Bettina) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 12:42 am: Edit

That is how my dd's HS operates. The school is single sex for 2 years, excepting foreign lang. and art, then mixed for 11th and 12th (including and advanced classes taken in 9th or 10th.) The girls and boys schools each have their own Dean and own Officers. They did this for practical reasons, but are now very big on studying the literature that shows overwhelmingly that it is a superior academic experience (they tell us, esp for girls.) It's best of both worlds. I will see if I can dig out some info they sent.

By Bigblue04 (Bigblue04) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 09:43 am: Edit

Several people have alluded to this already, but what if it's not just the person but the timing of the whole matter?

Co-ed nursery school and kindergarten is fine. I really don't think there's that much of a difference at that age.

Elementary and middle school is where the issue gets sticky. That's when adolescence begins and everyone's self-consciousness and sexual awareness starts infiltrating everything (rebelliousness, schoolwork, friendships, etc). I went to a co-ed middle school and I was miserable. The girls were all catty and obsessed with cliques and materialistic. The boys were all going around trying to be cool and impress the girls, with their rap and hiphop. This school is considered one of the best public schools in the nation. All my friends who went to single-sex schools at that age noticed a markedly better social situation. Everyone was more comfortable speaking out in class, wearing whatever they liked, and getting along with each other in general.

But by the time high school comes around (ninth, maybe tenth grade) I think kids are a little mellower. Most have come to terms with their own style and personality, and could benefit by learning to work with the opposite sex. By college, I think people know themselves well enough to decide individually. This is a matter of personal preference.

Sometimes it's not so much a matter of "who" than "when."

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 09:52 am: Edit

I couldn't agree more Bigblue. I haven't researched it, but I went by what felt right. Later elementary and middle school seemed perfect for an all girl's school. I then began to think it was important to live in the real world and go coed for high school. And to me if someone has been in a coed environment all of their lives a women's college is fine. But I wouldn't want to see a girl from an all girl's high school go to one if there's a choice.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 10:44 am: Edit

"The girls were all catty and obsessed with cliques and materialistic."

Bigblue -- this is not just the case at co-ed schools. My D had the same problem in her two years at an all girls' school (7-8 grade). The co-ed elem school had been better, and the co-ed HS was MUCH MUCH better.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 11:16 am: Edit

The OP had brought up the issue of single sex education in the public schools, and I am not sure I would support a move of that sort. Though I have benefitted from single sex schools, it is a choice I made and not one I would have wanted force fed to me in the public venue. Unless a district could provide the choice.

What do all boys schools do to keep the behavioural problems down? Well, first of all alot of "problems" are just fact of life there. They know that the boys have shorter attention spans, are more physical, have less impulse control, etc and as a result work on those aspects. The problem with a coed school is that it is easier to spotlight the quiet girl who wants to please as the standard. When the standard is a noisy boy, easily distracted, the class has to be run in a different way. Lessons are timed differently and in small bites and schedules are made using phys ed and recess optimally. Rules are spelled out strongly and in clear terms. Language is to the point. Boys do not get subtleties as easily. I remember my son who was told that he could not play with the blocks the next day if he did not clean them up. His response was "ok", The teacher had just unwittingly struck a deal. And SHE was mad about it. You don't waste time and words about what makes you happy or proud as that does not strike a chord with most little boys--you need to be direct. And you need to teach directly rather than hoping that they absorb the material. Boys need to be hit on the head with it.

Of course, there are many boys not in that category, but those are issues that parents of many boys face. I used to go to conferences where the teachers would have lists of complaints and issues that I could not do a thing about as I am not in the classroom when those things happen. It was the teacher's responsibility and she did not know how to deal with the issue. She had a class of 30 kids, about 18 girls, 12 boys and mine was one of the 6 trouble makers-a minority in her eyes. Moved to a class of 15 boys, the problems disappeared. And he became one of the top 5 in the class like magic.

I don't think some of the stuff was as fun or creative as in the coed classes, but my kids needed to know that they had to bite the bullet and sugar coating it did not make it more enticing--just took up time and they would lose their attention while you tried to dress up the facts of the matter. They needed to be told--you learn X and they would most of the time learn it, but if you talked around the subject, you could forget it. You lost them.

Actually, I recommend any parents with kids with even minor issues read books on how to work with or teach kids with true learning disabilities or handicaps. By breaking things into smaller bits and staying with the point, you can teach kids who are considered mentally retarded. The same techniques work with "normal" kids who just have no interest or have not developed the maturity to learn from a complete presentation. My kids suffered greatly from the "whole language" approach because there was too in there that was inferred instead of directed. Boys need things simplified and made very, very clear.

By Momoffour (Momoffour) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 01:27 pm: Edit

Thanks, Jamimom. I find it so interesting that a kid can go from "problem" to "star" by changing approach. Mine is stuck with "problem" label as we are getting ready to enter middle school in a coed public. Are there specific books you recommend?

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