Single-gender education creates a spirited dialogue about how the classroom structure should be in the modern school. If you walk into the average class today in the United States, you’ll find about an equal number of boys and girls at each grade level. Instead of integrating them, the National Education Association notes that some experts believe that there should be separation between them instead.
Professors David and Myra Sadker from American University published research in 1993 that discovered striking levels of unfairness toward each gender in the public school system. Over three years of research found out that boys called out eight times more often than girls did when answering questions, but then didn’t receive the same reminders to raise their hands – often being praised for their contributions.
The Sadkers discovered that the teachers in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Connecticut valued the comments from boys more than they did from girls. This issue even translated into the encouragement for the gentlemen to solve problems by themselves while helping the ladies who got stuck. Their paper was published in 1993.
The advantages and disadvantages of single gender classrooms do more than negate the patterns of male dominance that might exist in the educational system. It can also help boys and girls find a more successful path to their eventual adult life and career.
List of the Advantages of Single-gender Classrooms
1. It levels the playing field for girls in the public school system.
Data gathered from the U.S. Census Bureau and NCES shows that 54% of students in the average classroom are boys. If you take grades 1-12 by themselves, that figure is still 51% to 49% for the girls. That means there are more opportunities for boys to take over the learning experience since they are in the majority. Their contributions are usually rewarded because teachers believe that action encourages their participation.
When Jefferson Leadership Academies created entirely single-gender classes in 1999, girls did immediately better in science and math.
2. Having a classroom with both genders can create distractions.
Although the distractions of a mixed-gender classroom usually begin in the upper grade levels, there can be issues in grades 1-4 in the United States as well. Children can talk about the “crushes” they have on each other, test out the idea of a “relationship,” and focus more on the social elements found in the classroom instead of their educational processes.