When it comes to private education, single-sex schools are not an oddity. However, many readers may be surprised to learn that single-sex classrooms are being experimented with in over 400 public schools around the country, and certainly not without a decent amount of controversy. Educators, administrators, parents and politicians are heatedly debating whether single-sex classrooms help or hinder academic and social success among students.
Until recently, supporters of single-sex education have dominated the conversation. However, as the prevalence of single-sex classrooms in public schools grows, so does the criticism of them. While supporters tout the benefits of molding lesson plans specifically to boys or girls, critics worry that gender stereotypes will be enforced through over-specialized curricula and teaching tactics. When supporters note higher test scores in single-sex classrooms, critics point out the gaps in data and the limited research on the subject. Social concerns arise about how students educated in single-sex classrooms will relate with peers of the opposite sex when they go out into the working world.
It’s important to note that single-sex classrooms can legally only be offered as an option, not a requirement, in public schools. So far, in districts where the option is offered, parents seem grateful to have more choices when it comes to their children’s educations.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I’m the product of an all-girls high school. I received an excellent education there and feel most grateful for the social freedom the single-sex environment encouraged.
If you are interested in the debate surrounding single-sex classrooms in public schools, follow the links below to learn more.
Do you think that all public schools should offer single-sex classrooms? In your experience, what would be the benefits and drawbacks of teaching in a classroom of all boys or all girls?