Single Gender Classes in Education Essay

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Same Sex Classrooms

Whether same sex classrooms have positive or negative ramifications for students is a controversial topic because, like most controversial topics, there are good arguments to be made on both sides. The problem with being definitely pro or contra on a subject like this is that it limits one to a narrow acknowledgement of the effects of same sex classrooms. The reality of same sex classroom education is that there are both positives and negatives that have to be considered. One the one hand, same sex classrooms boast great academic value in that they support better academic achievement. On the other hand, same sex classrooms lack social value in that they do not allow for students to develop friendships across gender lines or to develop an appreciation for the opposite gender (Barton, Cohen). The argument that this paper will make is that schools should encourage same sex classrooms if they want to promote greater academic achievement, but they should provide mixed-sex opportunities (such as socials, dances or other events) to promote stronger peer relations among different genders.

Same sex classroom education was a norm once upon a time. Today, just fewer than 400 public schools in the U.S. offer same sex classroom education, and less than 100 public schools are single gender schools (Pearson). Still, while this number may seem small, it is actually an increase to what it was decades ago when the shift towards mixed-gender classrooms was in full swing. Back then, the educational climate and attitude was such that whatever was old, traditional or conventional was bad and that integration was the best way to go. Integration of the genders, supposedly, promoted a better sense of equality among the school children and promoted the idea that boys and girls were the same. Of course, as any social neuroscientist will tell, biological and social differences abound between boys and girls—and what educators have discovered since the integration shift is that, academically speaking, boys and girls do better when they are separated and educated in their own classrooms (Davis).
Even as ideological organizations like the ACLU oppose the idea of same sex classrooms, teachers are more and more in favor of them because they notice first-hand the vast improvement in their students’ behavior and academic accomplishments: there are fewer distractions and it is easier to broach certain subjects when dealing with only one gender of students at a time (Davis).

Not only do same sex classrooms promote learning…

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…opportunity to engage in cross-gender peer relationship building and development (Barton, Cohen; Pearson). Thus, same sex classrooms lack social value and the effect is that students do not develop peer relations with other genders. Peer social functioning is something that should be considered by schools: it too is part of a child’s development. As Barton and Cohen point out, “boys and girls engage in different social behaviors with peers, construe relationships differently, and generally exist in different social cultures based on gender” (38). It is important, therefore, that they be given the chance to develop those social cultures—both within their own gender group and outside it.

In conclusion, the reality of life is that the two genders are complementary in society. For academic development, however, they can be an impediment. Boys and girls can benefit from a great deal of academic value in same sex classrooms: the effect of separation is that boys and girls can focus more on academic goals than on social goals in the classroom. However, they should also be given opportunities to socialize and explore those different social cultures based on gender—and schools can serve as the perfect venue for that by hosting socials, dances, rallies and other events where both genders can….....

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Works Cited
Barton, Benjamin K., and Robert Cohen. "Classroom gender composition and children's peer relations." Child Study Journal 34.1 (2004): 29-46.
Booth, A. and P. Nolen, P. “Choosing to compete: How different are girls and boys?.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 81.2 (2011): 542-555.
Davis, Andrea. “Single-sex classes gain favor: ACLU opposes separating boys and girls, but teachers say benefits are obvious.” Indianapolis Business Journal 25.13 (June 7, 2004), 17-21.
Freeman, Darren. “Education : Teachers Think Same-Sex Classrooms Have Promoted Learning, Self-Esteem.” The Virginian Pilot. (Sept. 5, 2003): Regional News: pY1.
Johnson, N. and M. Winterbottom. “Supporting girls’ motivation in science: a study of peer?and self?assessment in a girls?only class.” Educational Studies, 37.4: 391-403.
Pearson, K. “Research divided on same-sex classrooms.” U-Wire. (June 4, 2008): From Educators Reference Complete.

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