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Single Sex Education for Boys

Q: A few years ago our daughter was having trouble in school. On the advice of friends, we sent her to an all-girls school, where she has thrived. Now, our son is starting to have problems and we’re wondering whether an all-boys school would be good for him. Is single-sex education as good for boys as it is for girls?

A: When people think of single-sex schools they usually have girls in mind. As you discovered on your own, girls in girls-only schools tend to do better than those in co-ed schools. What about boys? Well, not many people know about it, but the results are similar: boys in boys-only schools do much better than boys in co-ed. In fact the bump kids get from single-sex schools is even greater for boys than it is for girls, according to an exhaustive study by English researcher Graham Able.

There are also a number of advantages to single-sex education. According to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education (NASSPE – www.singlesexschools.org ), the two biggest ones are:

One other important advantage of single-sex education, especially for boys, is that there are likely to be more male teachers than in a co-ed school, where 80 percent of teachers are women. “Learning from a teacher of the opposite gender has a detrimental effect on students’ academic progress,” according to Thomas Dee, an economist at Swarthmore College. Dee also found that when a class is headed by a woman teacher, boys are more likely to be seen as disruptive. And disruptive children often end up in remedial classes or getting Ritalin or some other drug to “control” their behavior.

Researcher Henry Biller points out that in Japan, where about half of elementary school teachers are men, boy’s and girls’ reading scores are equal. In Germany, where the majority of school teachers are men, boys not only score higher than girls, but they are also less likely to suffer from severe reading problems.

Armin Brott

A great dad himself, Armin speaks not only as a specialist in parenting, but as a parent himself. He has written several books including The Expectant Father and Fathering Your Toddler.