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Single-Sex Education

Single-Sex Education — Should Girls and Boys Learn Apart?

In the New York Times magazine section this weekend, they examine new ways research in favor of segregating sexes is being applied in public education. Traditional reasons supporting pink-and-blue, "Girl Power" or "Boys' Only" educational structure include biological evidence, like:

  • Boys don’t hear as well as girls
  • Boys’ visual systems are better at seeing action
  • Girls are better at seeing the nuance of color and texture

But social reasons and student preference are growing as well. In the school featured in the piece, when students and parents were given a choice between co-ed or single-sex education, the percentage who chose single sex rose from one-third the first year to 87 percent two years later.

The principal of the school notes that single-sex classes produce fewer discipline problems, more parental support, and better scores in writing, reading, and math. Those results are augmented by the fact that the highest-performing teachers and her most-motivated students choose single-sex classrooms.

The main opponent of moving toward single-sex education is the A.C.L.U. They oppose all single-sex public education, basing their argument on Title IX, the 1972 Education Amendment that bans discrimination in educational programs on the basis of sex. They also refute the biological arguments saying, “What kind of message does it give when you tell a group of kids that boys and girls need to be separated because they don’t even see or hear alike?”

What do you think? Should the playing ground be equal for all, or arranged to benefit the unique needs of a single sex? Do boys and girls learn better apart?


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