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The Debate Between Single-sex or Coeducational Schools in Vancouver

What Sparked My Interest?

How Do Girls And Boys Learn Differently?

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                            This illustration by Laurindo Feliciano depicts a boy whose daydreaming about fleeing the boring classroom setting that he’s trapped it.

Due to the major developments of MRIs and PET scans, scientists have been able to identify many structural and functional differences between girls and boys brains’ that have been proven to affect their learning. There are many different learning preferences that include visual, kinesthetic and auditory, just to name a few, and everyone has their own unique combination of these techniques in their learning preferences. A study done by the Department of Physiology at Michigan State University found that “54.2% of females and only 12.5% of males preferred a single mode of information presentation.” The outcome of the study found that boys preferred multimodal instruction whereas girls preferred one mode of instruction. One of the main learning styles that boys rely on is kinaesthetic which relates to movement and touch and because of this, many boys get into trouble while fidgeting and moving. There is not enough movement involved in a typical classroom so they’re pent-up energy comes out in bursts that can be distracting to the rest of the class. Huge discrepancies are found between boys and girls learning styles and so the responsibility falls on the teacher or instructor to address and develop appropriate teaching plans to accommodate those differences.

What Are The Biological Differences?
There are many biological differences in the makeup of a boy’s and girl’s brain. Here are a few examples:

  

How Are Same-sex Different From Coeducational Schools?
To compare the differences I looked at three schools in Vancouver: West Point Grey Academy(coeducational), St.Georges School(all boys) and Croton House School(all girls). To find the information I went to each of the schools’ websites and also talked to some of the teachers ta the schools.

                  St. Georges School            West Point Grey Academy                 Crofton House School
• Focuses more on active learning instead of in-class learning.
“At St. George’s we avoid prolonged lecturing, note-taking, and quiet studying and focus more on hands-on learning in physical spaces that actually encourage movement and content manipulation.”
• Tries to have a variety of teaching styles but once students hit more academically strenuous classes, teachers tend to go back to note-taking and lectures • Relies heavily on in class lectures to fit girls’ style of learning.
• Directly combats the issues of “gender intensification” (“determining in their own right which subjects are suited for boys and which ones for girls and reinforcing those labels.”) Their top athletes are there top academic and art students. • They try to create a safe and open environment for any student to pursue any subject that they wish but there is still a level of gender intensification that they cannot eliminate. • Girls from same-sex schools are “three times more likely to pursue a career in engineering” and have “higher confidence in mathematical ability and computer skills.” Combats the same sort of issues as Saints does.
• Can lose a lot of social interaction between genders during class time which can foster some unhealthy mannerisms that present themselves when suddenly in society. Engage by having a sister school (Crofton) and by holding events with them. • Establishes a very realistic environment parallel to the rest of society and allows for learning of healthy interactions between genders • Their brother school (Saints) is invited to virtually every event to try to expose their girls to interactions with the opposite sex. A lot of girls also have very healthy relationships with people outside of school.
Social Acceptance
For both boys and girls, being popular is what drives their actions in many situations. In a lot of cases, academic achievement is not seen as desirable in boys and so they use that as an excuse to cut class or to fall behind in their studies. As for girls, they seem permitted to have a social life and be “cool” while still focusing a lot of energy on academics. This significant difference in social norms and attitudes restricts boys but does this factor exists when in an all-boys school? This is something that is heavily debated and many researchers and all boys schools believe that by taking away girls and the need to impress, boys will, as a result, naturally become more involved in school. On the other side of the debate, coeducational schools argue that there is still that presence of social hierarchy among boys and no matter if you isolate them or not, they will still try to do things to impress each other.

Academic Performance
Historically, a lot of time and research has been put into trying to advance the performance of girls although, in recent years, a lot of emphasis and attention has been placed on the underperformance of boys. Researchers have many reasons for this and one of them is the difference in attitude between girls and boys. James Davis, a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia explains that many boys start off just as eager to go to school as girls but by third or fourth grade, the gender gap forms. Why is that? It’s because boys are repeatedly told that they are not doing it right. Their biological disposition to be active gets them into trouble with teachers more than girls. A Cornwall study found that primary teachers were generally grading boys lower than girls and those same boys scored similarly to the girls on standardized tests. The researchers drew the conclusion that teachers were incorporating not just content when marking, but also the kids’ behavior and attitude during class. This has been the reality for many boys and so an argument that presents itself is that all boys schools could easily combat this problem. By being surrounded by kids of the same gender could help the student build self-confidence and the gender gap could diminish.

All the school children are in the same grade but the boy is still stuck doing addition while the girls are practicing multiplication.

Vancouver’s Opinion
I posted a survey on mine and my school’s Facebook page and I asked a lot of my friends from both coeducational and same-sex schools to submit an answer. I left the responses as anonymous and just asked for people’s gender(female, male, or other) and also asked if they went to a coeducational or same-sex school. There were many questions I asked although, one of the main questions was, “what are your opinions on the debate between same-sex or coeducational schools? If you’ve been to both, explain some of the differences between them.”
Here are some of the responses I received:

Female, Coeducational:
“I love going to a coed school; I think it is just a reflection of the real world as you are always going to be surrounded by the opposite sex in your work and social life.”

Female, Coeducational
“Same-sex schools seem more competitive.”

Female, Coeducational:
“I really like co-ed because it mirrors a lot of what life is like beyond school and can be socially more stimulating and more challenging. However, since transferring to a same-gender school I think that especially being a girl, being surrounded by other girls with ambition without the limitations of stereotypes can be really empowering. I’d also like to note that I go to a “same-gender” school, not a “same-sex” school – anyone who identifies as female can apply :)”

Male, Coeducational:
“I believe coeducational and same-sex schools cater to parental conceptions about education; however, in the end, it is the student’s responsibility to make full use of that education. For myself, I do not believe there is a difference in either schooling system. In our local district, the distribution of same-sex and coeducational schools in the rankings are very even, meaning the education is truly what you make of it.”

So Which One’s Better?
We spent a lot of time talking about the differences between girls and guys and how that affects how one learns. There is no doubt that everyone is unique and will learn best in different ways but we cannot ignore the biological and social research that has been done to point towards the advantages of having a same-sex education. In contrast to this, many believe that this kind of schooling does not properly depict the real world interaction we have to have with both boy and girl counterparts. There are also a lot of boys/girls out there that thrive better in environments where they can socialize or work with the opposite sex. What are your thoughts on this? Down below, vote, if you had a choice, which one you would want to go to?

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Work Cited

Buchmann, Claudia. “Chapter 1- Introduction.” The Rise of Women- The Growing Gender Gap in Education and What It Means for American Schools, by Thomas A. Diprete , pp. 1–24.
“Character Education.” West Point Grey Academy, www.wpga.ca/page/signature-experiences–/character-education.
“Contact Us.” St. George’s School | Contact Us, www.stgeorges.bc.ca/page/contact-us.
“Crofton House School.” Crofton House School, www.croftonhouse.ca/.
Houtte, Mieke Van. “Why Boys Achieve Less at School than Girls: the Difference between Boys’ and Girls’ Academic Culture.” Education Studies , vol. 30, no. 2, www.sciencespo.fr/liepp/sites/sciencespo.fr.liepp/files/boysandgirlsES.pdf.
Kadaba, Lini S. “The Reverse Gender Gap.” The Reverse Gender Gap – Theory to Practice, Lehigh University College of Education, 2013, ed.lehigh.edu/theory-to-practice/2013/the-reverse-gender-gap.
MARTINO, WAYNE, and BOB MEYENN. WHAT ABOUT THE BOYS? Issues of Masculinity in Schools. Open University Press, 2001, citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.564.2&rep=rep1&type=pdf.
Miller, David. “Stereotypes Can Hold Boys Back in School, Too.” The Conversation, 17 Apr. 2018, theconversation.com/stereotypes-can-hold-boys-back-in-school-too-72035.
Ogden , Craig Erico. “A Comparison of Student Performance in SingleSex Education and Coeducational Settings in Urban Middle Schools.” College and Graduates Studies, Georgia Southern University, 2011, Spring, pdfs.semanticscholar.org/cde6/e26de532355b4f4c6d7d3bc695c5d8d2af15.pdf?_ga=2.244683653.1076529325.1508681299-344849241.1508681299.
ourkids.net. “Co-Ed Classrooms versus Single-Sex Classrooms.” Coed Education versus Single Sex Schools, www.ourkids.net/school/together-or-apart.
Pahlke, Erin, et al. “The Effects of Single-Sex Compared With Coeducational Schooling on Students’ Performance and Attitudes: A Meta-Analysis.” American Psychological Association , vol. 140, no. 4, 5 Dec. 2013. 1042–1072, doi:10.1037/a0035740.
Sather , Jeanne. “Same Sex Classrooms: Can They Fix Our Public Schools?” www.psychology.sunysb.edu/hwaters-/psy327/articles/same-sex%20classrooms.pdf.
Sax, Leonard, M. D., Ph. D. Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences. Random House Inc, 2017.
Smyth, Emer. “Single-Sex Education: What Does Research Tell Us?” ife.ens-lyon.fr/publications/edition-electronique/revue-francaise-de-pedagogie/RF171-5.pdf.

Buchmann, Claudia. “Chapter 1- Introduction.” The Rise of Women- The Growing Gender Gap in Education and What It Means for American Schools, by Thomas A. Diprete , pp. 1–24.
“Character Education.” West Point Grey Academy, www.wpga.ca/page/signature-experiences–/character-education.
“Contact Us.” St. George’s School | Contact Us, www.stgeorges.bc.ca/page/contact-us.
“Crofton House School.” Crofton House School, www.croftonhouse.ca/.
Houtte, Mieke Van. “Why Boys Achieve Less at School than Girls: the Difference between Boys’ and Girls’ Academic Culture.” Education Studies , vol. 30, no. 2, www.sciencespo.fr/liepp/sites/sciencespo.fr.liepp/files/boysandgirlsES.pdf.
Kadaba, Lini S. “The Reverse Gender Gap.” The Reverse Gender Gap – Theory to Practice, Lehigh University College of Education, 2013, ed.lehigh.edu/theory-to-practice/2013/the-reverse-gender-gap.
MARTINO, WAYNE, and BOB MEYENN. WHAT ABOUT THE BOYS? Issues of Masculinity in Schools. Open University Press, 2001, citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.564.2&rep=rep1&type=pdf.
Miller, David. “Stereotypes Can Hold Boys Back in School, Too.” The Conversation, 17 Apr. 2018, theconversation.com/stereotypes-can-hold-boys-back-in-school-too-72035.
Ogden , Craig Erico. “A Comparison of Student Performance in SingleSex Education and Coeducational Settings in Urban Middle Schools.” College and Graduates Studies, Georgia Southern University, 2011, Spring, pdfs.semanticscholar.org/cde6/e26de532355b4f4c6d7d3bc695c5d8d2af15.pdf?_ga=2.244683653.1076529325.1508681299-344849241.1508681299.
ourkids.net. “Co-Ed Classrooms versus Single-Sex Classrooms.” Coed Education versus Single Sex Schools, www.ourkids.net/school/together-or-apart.
Pahlke, Erin, et al. “The Effects of Single-Sex Compared With Coeducational Schooling on Students’ Performance and Attitudes: A Meta-Analysis.” American Psychological Association , vol. 140, no. 4, 5 Dec. 2013. 1042–1072, doi:10.1037/a0035740.
Sather , Jeanne. “Same Sex Classrooms: Can They Fix Our Public Schools?” www.psychology.sunysb.edu/hwaters-/psy327/articles/same-sex%20classrooms.pdf.
Sax, Leonard, M. D., Ph. D. Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences. Random House Inc, 2017.
Smyth, Emer. “Single-Sex Education: What Does Research Tell Us?” ife.ens-lyon.fr/publications/edition-electronique/revue-francaise-de-pedagogie/RF171-5.pdf.

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COMMENTS: 8
  1. April 26, 2018 by Vivian

    I love this webpage — it’s super interactive and I like how you had a survey, a video, a graph, images, and other ways to engage the reader. In your opinion, what should co-educational schools do to account for the differences between boys and girls? Do you think that schools are currently doing enough to encourage active learning for boys?

    • April 29, 2018 by Rio.Townsend

      This is such a hard question to answer Vivian because of how there are pros and cons to having the coeducational and same-sex schooling. I don’t we will ever be able to have the most beneficial way of schooling because by segregating, we are essentially creating an unrealistic environment and by having coeducational, the learning needs or girls but mostly boys are not being addressed. I think the only way that there can be any change will be if there is a change to how kids are taught in classrooms settings. I think this is happening more already with teachers deciding to teach outside or do different interactive activities instead of lecturing but I think more can be done. Thanks for commenting and great questions Viv!

  2. April 26, 2018 by jasonzhang2001

    Hi Rio, I like how you presented data and left us to our own conclusions. The interactive features on you project and videos are also very interesting.

    • April 29, 2018 by Rio.Townsend

      Thanks so much, Jason! I am really glad you enjoyed it!

  3. April 30, 2018 by Hanan.Sherka

    I loved the uniqueness of your interactive part for your project. Being able to see everyone’s responses in the end made me think more about it and helped me see different perspectives. I love it!

    • April 30, 2018 by Rio.Townsend

      Thank you, Hanan!

  4. May 02, 2018 by Sofia

    Hi Rio! I really liked how you explained the context behind why you were doing this project. I really liked it! I also applaud you for your poll because I tried to do one and worked for a few hours and was unsuccessful.

  5. May 09, 2018 by Jason.Haas

    Hello! Great project. If I had one piece of feedback it would be to reword the purple circle in the graphic. The wording as it is makes it seem like boys are worse, causing girls to be better (and have specific skills like transitioning between lessons) as opposed to boys being worse and lacking certain skills that girls happen to have.

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