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Segregation of Boys and Girls in Learning Spaces

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Single-sex schools enable genders to take roles they would not have otherwise, allowing them to perform and learn better in these environments.

By having schools separating boys and girls in their learning spaces, research has shown significant improvements within both genders scholarly-wise. It has enabled girls to take leadership roles and to develop self-confidence in subjects traditionally dominated by boys, such as math and technology. This, according to Vail, Kathleen, has made girls natural leaders, participating more as they become comfortable with their learning space. Whereas, for the boys, it has allowed them to concentrate better too and feel it’s acceptable to be collaborative. Both genders perform and learn better in these single-sex schools, because teachers, in these environments, tend to develop a gender-specific curriculum to motivate students. For girls, they’ve developed a more ‘teacher attention’ (girls are more encouraged to learn when they have the teacher’s attention), were for boys, they’ve developed less listening (due to lower attention span) and more hand-on work with a more competitive atmosphere.

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Along with this, studies have shown that both genders improved significantly (going from a co-ed school to a single-sex school), both by participating more and by taking school more seriously. According to Rojas, a high school teacher, when, ‘You walk into a class of girls, and they would be raising their hands and participating more fully’ while, ‘You see boys being more supportive, and there’s less giggling if they have to read poetry.’. These observations show undoubtedly an education improvement on both genders.

Having different teaching methods for the two genders enables the students to have a stronger comprehension level on the subjects, along with participating within the group discussions more often.

Segregated schools are proved to reduce problems and other distractions in classrooms and other learning spaces, therefore improving attention spans from students academically.

Researchers have proved that both genders get distracted by the others’ presence. This is a normal thing for human nature, but not very useful, especially in a learning area. Experts from Britain’s prestigious National Foundation for Education Research studied the educational performance of kids at eight ‘comprehensive’ schools which had tried dividing up girls and boys for some lessons. The results were rather positive, were, “the boys in the school found the absence of girls helped reduce class distractions and increased their self-confidence.” Whereas, “the girls felt that the absence of boys meant they were able to receive more teacher attention and could concentrate better.”

Distractions coming from the opposite genders are very common. Sabrina Johnson’s son was still in daycare when she noticed how distracting it was for him to have girls around. ‘You can see it even at a very young age — they just don’t focus as well.’ Proponents say single-sex schools eliminate the distraction of the opposite sex and allow teachers to assist boys and girls in supposedly different learning styles. ‘The students are more focused on what’s going on,’ says Jill Rojas, former principal of Jefferson Leadership Academies, two single-gender public middle schools in Long Beach, California. ‘We hardly ever had discipline problems inside the classroom.’

The advantage most often involving schooling boys and girls separately is that it takes away any sort of distractions. Freed from the worries of impressing the opposite sex, boys and girls can focus on their books, instead of their looks.

Even though it is proven that segregated schools are only beneficial for a student’s academics, others state that it takes away the opportunity for students to feel as they would in the real world, with both genders and with new and different ideas being introduced.

Although only boys’ and only girls’ schools are beneficial in many ways, many disagree, stating that these schools create a sheltered environment for students and that it isn’t preparing them for the real world. They say that boys and girls must learn to interact, and by separating them, that opportunity will be taken away. Although this is valid, and a very key point, it is also important to keep in mind that both genders’ brains develop differently and have different levels and times of development – both genders needing different attention/ways to keep their interests going and so on.

Sax, the founder of the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education, points to the body of research on brain differences between boys and girls as the main reason for why they should be educated separately. Single-gender schools and classes would, in his opinion, “alleviate a lot of behavioral problems, especially in boys.”(Vail, Kathleen. Vol.68, no. 4, 12, 2002, pp. 32-38). Sax also says that the kind of learning environment that is best for boys is not necessarily best for girls. For example, girls generally have a more sensitive sense of hearing. ‘A teacher speaking in a tone of voice comfortable for girls will make boys fall asleep,’ he says. Another example: Boys don’t work as well in small groups as girls do. ‘They’ll jockey to be the head male,’ says Sax.

It is true that by segregating boys and girls, school’s aren’t getting the students ready for the real world, but it is also important to keep in mind that both genders’ brains function differently, and if not used to the advantage, students might not do as well as they could’ve done if the circumstances were different. 

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