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The Forum > General Discussion > Single sex schools - the perfect breeding ground for social disasters.

Single sex schools - the perfect breeding ground for social disasters.

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I'm not a parent, nor do I have any intention to be one in the foreseeable future. I do worry about education though (and I do harbour an admittedly idealistic belief that democracy can only function properly if all education is entirely free. But that's not my topic right now), and it troubles me deeply that an increasing number of parents seem to believe that single sex schools are the way to go.

The high school I went to was located close to an all boys school, and man, those guys were weird. We virtually never associated with them - they fought all the time (I never saw a fight at my school, for the entire five years), they had only the most basic grasp of the English language, and their attempts to relate to the opposite sex in any social manner, well, lets just say I felt sorry for all parties concerned.

Because here's the rub: high school is as much about developing social skills as it is academic skills. While academics will get you ahead, you aint even getting started if you don't have proper social skills. And to spend your MOST important developing years completely isolated from 50% of the population? You got problems.

So if you want your kid to learn advanced calculus in a distraction free environment, and are willing to risk him or her growing into a maladjusted insecure antisocial manic depressive who has his or her own children at seventeen, then go ahead with the whole single sex school thing. I don't know where all the psychiatrists will come from though.
Posted by spendocrat, Wednesday, 27 December 2006 4:07:58 PM
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I have a daughter in a single sex high school, she is in Year 11 next year. I have three others in co-ed schools and I think that the one thing that you seem to forget is that children have a life outside of school and they have siblings and cousins and friends and they are not JUST restricted to their school environment.

I think that if they could get boys to focus on learning, I personally prefer co-ed, it was my daughter who wanted to go to a girls school as she was fed up with boys disrupting her education. She also has two brothers, one just over a year older than her and so she is hardly shielded from the world of boys, one might say she is overloaded. Of course the girls in her school are still talking boys all the time and that is something that is never going to change, no matter what school you are at but at least in the classroom when the learning is happening there is less disruption.

Ideally school should be focused on learning and boys and girls should be encouraged to focus on learning and not each other as there is plenty of time later on for that.
Posted by Jolanda, Thursday, 28 December 2006 10:36:41 AM
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Of course. Life outside school. Forgot about that one. Even so...

All children should focus on learning, but thatís just my point - I believe social learning to be as important as academic learning. I'm not suggesting each sex should engage in any specific focus on the other, but if you see high school as a tool for learning how to live in the big scary world, then you need to get some practice in on how to operate within a real life environment (i.e.: all types of people). If high school can be seen as a microcosm of society (and that's not such a stretch), thereís really only one way it can function properly.

Also, don't forget that school is only the beginning of your learning life, and if you're more experienced at learning *despite* these hypothetical distractions, well, surely thatís an advantage. If your daughter was 'fed up' with boys distracting her, whoís to say she wont have exactly the same problem once she's finished her schooling? At least with co-ed she'd be more prepared. Having said that, I must say I'm impressed with the fact that the decision was hers. The people I know who went to single sex schools are still resentful of their parents decision to send them there.

Of course there's also the problem I have with the way a single sex school may inadvertently reinforce sexist ideas and stereotypes, which again, is not a good idea at the most formative time of a childís social development. Consider a teenage boy struggling to come to terms with his homosexuality. Hard enough on its own no doubt, without the extra confusion of being surrounded by males with only one conversation piece: girls. Now where does he go if he wants to avoid distraction?
Posted by spendocrat, Thursday, 28 December 2006 3:19:01 PM
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The problem with co-ed schools and especially the public ones is that they do tend to focus on relationships. My son attended a public high school in Year 7 before he moved to the Catholic School in Year 8.

In year 7 the school had roses available for the students to give to each other in roll call on Valentines Day. Girls were allowed to have their tops open with their braís and boobs hanging out and their skirts so short up their backsides that it wasnít funny. My son said that it didnít bother him, he left for other reasons relating to the quality of his education and unfair treatment by staff, but the fact was that the school encouraged the students to get together and by not providing good quality education discouraged the students from focusing on their learning.

In this day and age too many schools are just child minding centers. I personally believe that they push students towards each other so that when they donít do well they can then blame the students because of their lack of focus on their learning. I also believe that the lack of focus on learning and the lack of appropriate stimulation encourages students to turn to drugs and alcohol in order to feel and to stimulate their minds.

My daughter has two brothers and the majority of her cousins are boys! She is very academic and wanted to learn without being disrupted. She does however like boys, she just believes that there is a time and a place for everything and teenagers are starting to do too much too young. There is plenty of time to work and to play
Posted by Jolanda, Thursday, 28 December 2006 3:38:22 PM
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We appear to be going in circles.

Let's make this clear: I don't disagree with any of the specifics of what you're saying. But you seem to be caught in the idea that social = distraction = bad. What I'm trying to say is that social = integral and indispensable part of education = good.

What you learn in the playground at that age is just as important as what you learn in the classroom. At least that's how I see it. Itís different for every single person of course, thatís a given. But from my point of view (which is, funnily enough, the only point of view I have at my disposal), much of my academic learning has had no practical application in my working life. However, my social learning - everything from knowing how to pretend to like someone, to gauging someoneís attitude towards you and predicting what they may like to hear, to making someone laugh, to self awareness and perspective etc (I could go on a lot longer but you get the idea), has been absolutely invaluable.

Those are skills you learn in your childhood and teenage years.

Also, dividing the sexes down the middle seems to imply that there's some sort of fundamental difference between male and female academic minds...an unnecessary reinforcement of stereotypes, in my opinion.

Final qualifier: as I said before, this is simply from my point of view, and what works for some doesn't necessarily work for others. But when I picture a world of only single sex schools, it don't look pretty to me.
Posted by spendocrat, Friday, 29 December 2006 8:35:58 AM
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I guess the problem is that we are talking about different schools, unfortunately they are not all the same.

Of course school should be a place where students learn to interact, respect each other and get along. Problem is that there are 'some' schools where there isn't alot of respect being shown by the adults, bullies are being protected and all students are learning is that it doesn't pay to be good.

I am with you though, a good school with good foundations and high quality teaching and discipline is a must - for all children and if they can manage that it is actually better for most if students are mixed.
Posted by Jolanda, Friday, 29 December 2006 8:48:32 AM
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