When you stop and think about your high school or college alma mater, were your experiences more positive or negative? Do your feelings of success or failure in that school have anything to do with whether or not your school was single-sex or coed? More and more Americans are electing to send their children to single-sex schools, because they feel both boys and girls blossom when they study in the company of students of the same sex. They tend to achieve more.
For years, only parents who could afford to send their children to private schools or who had strong religious or cultural reasons chose single-sex education for their children. Single-sex schooling was out of reach for most American families. Today, however, along with costly private schools, public schools are experimenting with the idea of separating the sexes.
Girls may be the ones who benefit most from single-sex schooling. Studies have shown that many girls get short-changed in coed classrooms because teachers sometimes pay more attention to boys. Girls’ positive exuberate attitude toward their studies tends to disappear as they began to feel less successful. They start to watch their male peers outperform them in math and science. As boys begin to gain confidence, girls start to lose it. Moreover, adolescence is such a fragile time for girls. As they experience adolescent changes some girls become depressed, develop an addiction or suffer from an obsession with weight.
In the early 1990s, some influential people said that being in single-sex classes could raise a girl’s self-esteem. Schools across the country began creating single-sex classrooms and schools but many critics claim that all female schools may actually be detrimental to a girls’ education, because they reinforce the regressive notion of sex differences.
The renewed interest in single-sex schooling has fostered a controversy among Americans. Those who give it full endorsement believe girls need an all-female environment to take risks and find their own voices. Those who question the validity of single-sex schooling wonder whether students’ lack of achievement warrants returning to an educational system that divides the sexes. They believe there is no such thing as separate but equal.