8th November 2018

Single-sex schools will make us single-minded

Maurits Bekkers argues that the logic behind teaching the supposedly differently wired brains of boys and girls in single-sex schools ignores that there is more to gain from school than academic achievement

The number of single-sex schools in the UK has been strongly declining over the past 20 years. This is because, these days, more liberal ways of thinking prevail when it comes to education.

However some have claimed that overall, pupils at a single-sex school, at least in the case of all girls schools, tend to get better grades than those in a mixed school.

Consequently, the problem modern parents are faced with is: “are single-sex schools actually better than mixed-sex schools?

It has been suggested that single-sex schools are good for children to grow up in. Both sexes have brains that are ‘wired’ differently, and therefore react differently to the same stimuli. Using the same teaching techniques on both sexes would hence turn out to be less academically advantageous for all.

Thus, if single-sex school teachers teach their pupils in a way that helps them reach their potential, their students will as a matter of fact achieve better grades and learn a better studying method that is more suited for their sex.

Personally, I believe that mixed schools prepare children better for their adult life. Since they have to live together in an institution which better represents society from a young age, they will get used to how the other sex behaves and reacts to certain common situations.

Moreover, each individual will learn to stand up for themselves and make their voice heard before peers of both sexes. They will notice differences between the behaviour of both sexes and become more comfortable with it from habit. After all, both sexes have to live with each other in the same world when they are adults, so why not prepare them for that?

While scientists could claim that both sexes have differently-wired brains, the differences in the brains of pupils of the same sex also have consequences in how specific individuals reach their full potential. These are also significant differences.

Furthermore, the skill that seems to be most needed currently in education is memory. Since it seems likely that both sexes are equally good at it, the only differences in their capability is between individuals, irrespective of sex.

I am not implying that reaching your full potential academically is a negative thing. Rather, I am trying to underline the other lessons. Evidently, it is good for young individuals to make personal progress, leading to skills they will be able to bring into their adult life. Yet it is difficult to say what is important for them.

However, surely a mixed school would be a better way of processing knowledge and creating a decent understanding of how the social world around them works?

Often, one’s time in school seems to be based on learning-off-by-heart. Therefore, would single-sex schools really be worth missing the chance of living in a more represented social institution?

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