There has been a longstanding debate about the appropriateness of either co-education or single-sex education. Naturally, each model has its pros and cons, while I personally prefer co-educational model. The position paper provides a comparative analysis of the benefits and drawbacks of both paradigms.
Regardless of a student’s choice, in most cases the decision ultimately depends on parents’ preferences. The first aspect to consider concerns attractions vs. distractions; herewith, I prefer a classroom equally divided between both sexes. In this respect, I reject the primary criticism that the opposing sex deters students from concentrating on the studies. Furthermore, critics often refer to other sex’s humor, or too much talking among other distracters. However, I consider such criticisms as one-sided while both sexes cooperate in the majority of environments.
Furthermore, critics of the co-ed classroom criticize point at the fear of embarrassment surrounding classroom discussions and activities. They argue that because of the presence of another sex, students feel uncomfortable and act inadequately. On the contrary, I suppose that co-ed environment perfectly motivates boys to provide better learning outcomes to prove their supremacy or show up before girls. Co-ed classrooms are the initial environments wherein a student may prove his/her advantage over the representatives of the same and opposite sexes. Various research findings so far have proven that students of both sexes are more likely to receive higher test scores. Nonetheless, there is also research evidence that single-sex schools show improved in-class behaviors (American Psychological Association 2014).
Regarding interpersonal communication, co-ed environment boost the opposite sexes’ communicative skills, whereas single sex classrooms often generate unproven prejudices about the representatives of another sex. By nature, teenage students are mostly prone to believe rumors and within the environment where the other sex is absent, they tend to believe in things that are far from truth. Experts claim that full-fledged communication between both sexes is a vital prerequisite for their preparation for the professional world environments. Therefore, again co-ed environments outdo single-sex schools. Overall, studies prove that separate classroom environments slow down the development of interpersonal communication while separation conveys artificial stereotypes (Krupnick 1985).
There is also great concern about physical appearance. The representatives of single-sex environments care less about their appearance compared to their co-ed counterparts. However, in the real-world settings like corporate environments one’s appearance and clothes make great (especially first) impression on people. Single-sex classroom students are more careless about their clothes and behaviors, whereas co-ed environments require certain behavioral norms. The unwritten rules of etiquette work on subconscious level while both sexes are trying to respect each other at least to a certain extent (Fabes et.al 2013).
Many parents criticize mixed-gender classrooms for too many distractions coming from the opposite sex. However, such bias is rather artificial while students who do not want to learn will find their distracters within the same-sex classrooms as well. In this sense, I believe that parents should realize the whole purpose of a classroom environment. I would say that for a student it should serve as a realistic prototype of a real-life (presumably corporate) environment. If we consider such interconnectedness as relevant, students of both sexes should tolerate one another and learn how to interact rather than seek reasons that disunite them. A great deal of research evidence proves that co-ed schools erase gender stereotypes, whereas single-sex schools boost them. Eventually, single-sex school education limits the opportunity of interacting and co-working among genders. This creates inappropriate background for a graduate who will shortly face adolescent and adult environments as challenging (American Psychological Association. 2014).
More than that, studies prove that the presence of girls in co-ed classrooms boosts everyone’s academic performance. This concerns both male and female students. This is assumingly because a higher percentage of girls minimizes the amount of classroom disruption and boosts better relationship among students. According to the American Council on Education, academic disparity between male and female students is lesser while co-ed environments attain greater academic achievement (American Psychological Association. 2014).
In the United States, there are organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that consider single-sex education as discriminatory and even illegal in various states. The activists claim that the whole idea of gender division provokes segregation and discrimination in various respects and violates the principle of equality envisaged in the Educational Opportunities Act (Stanberry 2016).
To sum up, I would like to argue that co-ed classrooms are natural environments for full-fledged education and development of all students. They closely resemble the real-to-life environments where men and women work together. Therefore, I oppose single-sex classrooms as rather limited and often inadequate environments that fail to ensure sustainable learner’s development in all respects. More than that, I consider co-ed classroom as natural, meaning that such environment creates additional incentives for normal learning process. This also indicates that students of both sexes behave naturally while being together. Once one side is absent, there is automatically a room for bias and stereotypes about the representative of the opposite sex. Hence, live daily interaction between both sexes ensures best academic performance and learning outcomes.
- American Psychological Association. (2014). “Single-Sex Education Unlikely to Offer Advantage Over Coed Schools, Research Finds,” [Online]: (updated 5 Nov 2016) available at http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2014/02/single-sex-education.aspx
- Fabes, R. et.al. (2013). “Gender-segregated Schooling and Gender Stereotyping,” [Online]: (updated 5 Nov 2016) available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263722254_Gender-segregated_schooling_and_gender_stereotyping
- Krupnick, C. (1985). “Women and Men in the Classroom: Inequality and Its Remedies,” Harvard University Press.
- Stanberry, K. (2016). “Single-sex education: the pros and cons,” [Online]: (updated 5 Nov 2016) available at http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/single-sex-education-the-pros-and-cons/