Disadvantages of Single Sex Schools

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Around here, one of the common topics of conversation among the parent community is, “where are you going to send your kids to high school?” We genuinely have no idea. Our options are made much more complex by the fact that all of the six high schools within walking distance of our house (two public, four private) are single sex. When I talk about not wanting to send my boys to a single sex school, most parents are surprised that I would care. My reasoning is almost entirely about socialisation – I know enough people who found it very hard to talk normally to members of the opposite sex once they got out of their segregated environment to know how much the experience can (doesn’t always, of course!) damage your social life. My mother is a good example – she’s told me often enough how hard she found it to go from a girls school to doing first year science at university – one of 4 women in classes of 150. That’s obviously extreme, but I imagine she would have found it easier to cope if she’d be learning alongside boys in her highschool also. Most of the reading I’ve done on the topic (a while ago) suggested that girls should go to single sex schools, so they didn’t get oppressed by boys who would stifle their willingness to speak up and learn in a classroom, and boys should go to co-ed schools so that the girls would calm them down and create a better learning environment. Hard to know where to find those girls willing to sacrifice themselves for the boys, though. But a recent article in New York Magazine suggested that I’m way behind the times. These days, there is a whole industry in explaining just how differently boys and girls learn, and how important it is to provide a learning environment that caters separately to boys and girls. Many of the most exclusive Sydney private schools have bought into this – here’s one example. But the New York Magazine article points out, gently but firmly, how methods based on averages fail to take account of the enormous...
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