By LAURI GROSS
One of the first questions many parents may consider is whether their child will be better served through a single-sex education or a co-educational environment. There is plenty of data to guide the choice.
The National Coalition of Girls’ Schools believes that by subtracting boys, an all-girls’ education adds opportunities for girls. In particular, the Coalition emphasizes that graduates of girls’ schools are six times more likely to consider majoring in math, science, and technology and three times more likely to consider engineering compared to girls who attended co-ed schools. The Coalition cites research that says, when every student in advanced calculus and physics or in the computer club is a girl, then every other girl at the school gets the clear message they can excel in those areas.
Surprisingly, or maybe not, similar arguments are made in favor of all-boys’ schools. The all-boys University School, with campuses in Hunting Valley and University Heights, says boys thrive in a single-sex education because, being away from the social energies and gender expectations that often exist in co-educational schools, boys do not have to choose among activities traditionally associated with males or females. The school’s website goes on to explain that all of the school activities are simply what students do at US: A boy will sing in the choir, play football or soccer, write poetry in English class, help publish the yearbook, or join the debate club.
In addition, US takes pride in having designed a learning experience that they say makes purposeful a boy’s energy, his impulse to move and play, and his interests.
Beaumont, an all-girls’ Catholic School in Cleveland Heights, is a member of the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools. Beaumont describes itself as a living example of research which says young women in single-gender schools have higher expectations, are challenged to achieve more, and are more likely to engage in activities that prepare them for the real world.
Kathryn Purcell, associate head of the all-girls’ Laurel School in Shaker Heights, said, “At Laurel, girls get to be themselves. We work hard to foster a growth mindset environment where girls can try new things, make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. They learn to be resilient in the face of challenge. Our girls know their voices matter, that their effort matters and that they matter. Always informed by Laurel’s Center for Research on Girls, healthy relationships with peers and with trusted adults are at the foundation of all that we do.”
Founded in 2007, Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls integrates the world’s best research on how girls learn and grow into every Laurel student’s education. Laurel’s curriculum reflects research on the power of growth mindset, the importance of educating girls about stereotype threat, and proven approaches for engaging and retaining girls in STEM fields.
Bill O’Neil, the associate head of school/academic dean JK-12 at University School said, “Boys’ schools understand boys, and we recognize that there are a lot of ways to be a boy. We also attend to their social-emotional learning and want them to grow up to be good men. Our purpose goes beyond the boys we currently teach to the men they will become and the communities they will serve. When a boy knows that he is a member of a community, when he knows that the adults care about him as a student and as an individual, he tends to want to meet the ideals of that community – or exceed them.”
Barbara Brown, director of marketing at Beaumont said, “You can’t miss the benefits of Beaumont’s all-girls’ education evident in our young women who are unapologetically confident in their abilities to use their voices to solve problems in today’s world. You see it in their courage to stand for their convictions and when they champion inclusivity in service to others so that they too might be heard. Our students take intellectual risks and fill every leadership role in the school. They uplift their ideas through communication and collaboration that brings people together for the greater good of society.”
OurKids.net, a clearinghouse for education research, includes some data about the benefits of co-educational schools. The website says boys and girls learn from and are inspired by each other and that co-ed schools better prepare girls and boys for post-secondary school and employment by providing ongoing opportunities to work productively together. The site adds that boys and girls ultimately have a more enriching educational experience when they get to learn together.
Pretty much everyone agrees that girls’ and boys’ brains are wired differently. And, no one’s brain is wired the same as your child’s. Increase the chances of your child’s best outcome by combining data with parenting instinct and then trust your knowledge of what makes your child tick.