On this page:
- Single-sex education: arguments for
- The uniqueness of male students
- Schools for boys: curriculum
- Educational goals
- Boarding schools
- Or maybe a Catholic school?
- Questions to consider
Schools can also be divided into coed and same-gender schools, i.e.. separate schools for girls and boys. Although the vast majority of schools in Poland are coed, girls-only and boys-only schools still operate and enjoy great popularity, educating boys and girls separately.
In Poland, coed schools are in the majority.
Of course, that wasn't always the case. At first, only boys and men were educated, and when the need to educate girls was noticed, separate schools were created for them. Until the mid-nineteenth century in Poland, as everywhere else in the world, there were only separate schools for each gender first for boys, and then also for girls.
It was not until the mid-nineteenth century, when emancipation movements appeared, that coed schools began to emerge, although in small towns and villages, especially at the lowest education level, the reasons for coed were more practical—the availability of teachers and/or premises.
On coeducation you can read in the article "Coeducational schools in Poland," where we present the main arguments for and against this model of education.
Single-sex education: arguments for
As education became accessible to both sexes, gender-specific schools did not disappear. Schools educating each gender separately exist, and their idea is based on the belief that boys and girls develop and learn differently and therefore have different needs that can be better met in an educational environment where genders are separated.
Here are the arguments for single-sex education:
• The school can better tailor lessons and curriculum to its students.
• Boys and girls learn differently and single-sex schools are able to adapt to these differences without being forced to compromise. Many of the alleged skill differences between boys and girls are due to the fact that subjects are not taught in a way appropriate to their respective learning styles.
• In areas where boys and girls often do well—whether intellectually, physically, or behaviourally they aren’t held back by the other gender. In areas where they may struggle, they aren’t suppressed by the other gender or constrained by simplified gender stereotypes.
• Students are less constrained to develop their true identity.
• In adolescence, students can be more themselves without competition between the sexes.
• Learners can try different things and discover their unique interests and skills without being affected by social expectations of gender roles.
• Without being distracted, students are more focused on learning and extracurricular activities—areas that bring greater benefits later in life. They don't have to be "cool" at the expense of academics.
• Attending a single-gender school doesn’t prevent students from interacting with the opposite sex at all, whether in extracurricular activities or outside of school. Before children enter the world of relationships, they’re strong and fully-formed individuals.
The uniqueness of male students
In addition to the general arguments for the separate teaching of boys and girls outlined above, it’s useful to look at the unique characteristics of boys as students.
"Girls and boys really learn differently," says Dona Matthews, author and educational psychologist at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in Toronto. “Girls more often than boys prefer a collaborative and team-learning model. Boys are more competitive and benefit from this trait.”
The main strength of separate schools for boys and girls was highlighted in the 2008 study, “Individual Education and Academic Achievement at School and Life”. The study found that this option helps students succeed in subjects that are less traditionally associated with their gender; for example, girls at math and science, and boys at languages.
"Boys have a rather lower academic record in coed schools," said Brad Adams, executive director of the International All-Boys Schools Coalition. "Schools for boys specialize in developing curricula that encourage boys to learn."
Adams adds that in boys-only schools, boys are more engaged in learning without being exposed to gender pressure. "They have more time to be boys and explore various interests, such as art, without becoming attached to stereotypical gender roles such as of an athlete," he explains.
Until recently, a lot of research has highlighted the challenges girls face. Many of them felt intimidated in adolescence; not only were their voices lost in the coed class, but they lacked opportunities to develop leadership, math, science, and technology skills. Now, however, other voices are heard—-that coed classrooms do not meet the needs of... boys.
Statistics published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2001 showed that girls were significantly better than boys in reading in all 32 countries surveyed.
Traditional classrooms are friendlier for girls, says Peter Jackson, administrator at Saint John's School of Alberta, a boys-only facility in Edmonton, Alberta. Boys are not programmed to sit quietly for long periods and concentrate on one task. They are easily distracted, noisy and, especially in early adolescence, full of energy.
"It's much harder for boys," admits Matthews, who in her private psychological practice meets many smart boys who, however, exhibit behavioural problems when in fact they are simply curious kids.
As a result, the Edmonton school structured its schedule to meet the boys' needs. "We have smaller classrooms and we can channel this energy, so the students don't just sit at the desks," says Jackson. "Instead, they clean up work, play sports, and participate in the school's outdoor adventure program, which includes trips to learn about local geography and history."
Schools for boys: curriculum
Supporters of single-gender education like the fact that the curriculum in schools for boys is tailored to their academic and physical needs.
Especially in the lower grades, all-boys schools offer a lot of physical activity, so boys are more likely to be active than in a coed school. A lot of exercise allows them to have fun and use excess energy positively.
Schools for boys also offer a range of other interesting and engaging activities for boys: construction projects, DIY, hands-on classes in various subjects. Students learn by doing—-touching and engaging, not sitting and listening. According to Tom Stevens, Director of Recruiting at Royal St. George's College, a Toronto-based school for boys: “In many schools, if you can keep quiet and focus, you will do well. It doesn't work for most boys."
In single-gender schools, boys don't show off to impress girls. Because boys mature emotionally later than girls, girls tend to ignore them, so to get their attention, boys are capable of all sorts of antics and silliness. When girls dress up and flirt with boys, boys are not yet ready for it at their developmental stage.
As boys grow up, they also have more time to explore their less typical gender interests, such as art. They aren’t directed to concentrate on traditionally male activities, such as sports.
The mission of schools for boys is to educate the character of a young person. Usually in close cooperation with parents and numerous educational programs, the schools develop appropriate habits and attitudes useful in both private and professional life. Boys study in an atmosphere of trust and are motivated to constantly work on themselves—-both intellectually and spiritually. The aim of institutions that emphasize personality development is, above all, instilling in a young man positive values such as respect for other people, an optimistic approach to life, facing new challenges, and willingness to help others. It’s also a chance to develop spiritually.
It often happens that adolescent boys have many educational problems. The solution may be a boarding school that teaches discipline. There, boys themselves have to keep things in order, prepare meals, do laundry, and clean their rooms. This is a good way for them to appreciate what their parents normally do for them. Simple chores often go unnoticed by young people. Additional activities will allow the young person to find their place in life and develop their interests.
There are boarding schools that offer a wide range of activities to complement everyday learning: from theatre groups to recreational and sports activities to film clubs. Boarding school is also a great opportunity to embolden a young boy and encourage him to connect with his peers. In order not to completely isolate boys from the other sex, discos and meetings with girls are often organized. Young boys can develop a respect for women, so useful in adulthood. All this under the supervision of professional and experienced teaching staff. Boarding schools are large institutions that have their own cafeterias, sports fields, well-equipped gyms, and libraries.
Or maybe a Catholic school?
The turbulent period of puberty is often felt not only by adolescent boys, but also by their parents. Studying at a Catholic school is one of the options for supporters of single-gender education. These are schools that teach in the spirit of Christian values. They’re commonly referred to as Catholic schools, and are considered to be schools run by church institutions, although in many cases this is not the case. Some of these schools are run by individuals or secular organizations. Many of them are separate schools for boys and girls.
For boys, such a school is an environment where they can calm down and eliminate symptoms of aggression and inappropriate behavior. Learning focused on spiritual development is an opportunity to direct the attention of a young boy to others around him and make him aware of how much his inappropriate behavior can hurt other people.
Questions to consider
According to experts, as many as 80% of boys and girls have brains which are similar enough that the same teaching/learning styles are appropriate for them. But what about the 20% that do not?
As a parent, you may feel that your daughter or son does not perfectly fit the norm. The following questions will help you with this:
• DOES YOUR CHILD WORK BEST WITH A GROUP OR DO THEY LIKE COMPETITION?
Girls usually learn best in collaborative settings, while boys like competition.
• DOES YOUR CHILD ENJOY READING OR PHYSICAL EXERCISE MORE?
Boys generally need encouragement to sit quietly with a book.
• DOES YOUR CHILD LEARN BEST THROUGH LISTENING, LOOKING, OR ACTION?
While girls tend to learn well when content is conveyed verbally, boys seem to benefit more from hands-on learning.
• DOES YOUR CHILD TEND TO EXPRESS THEIR FEELINGS MORE THROUGH HUGGING OR ROUGH PLAY?
While most girls hug and kiss, boys prefer physical behavior and playful fights.
• DOES YOUR CHILD EASILY UNDERSTAND COMPLEX INSTRUCTIONS OR DO THEY NEED THEM GIVEN ONE BY ONE?
Most girls are better at multitasking and have more divided attention.
• DOES YOUR CHILD LISTEN PATIENTLY OR DOES INFORMATION NEED TO BE REPEATED?
Boys tend to be less able to concentrate.
Is separating girls from boys the best solution? Although the question of single-gender education vs. coeducation raises many problems for parents and students to consider, no answer is right or wrong. "It's very much a matter of individual preferences," says Matthews. "For some girls and some boys, a heterogeneous environment is entirely appropriate, and for others it is a complete failure."
Each parent has to answer the question of what education is most appropriate for their child, but it’s worth taking into account the information provided in this article.
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