The Pros and Cons of Single Sex Schools for Boys

Educators and parents who support single-sex schools for boys will tout the benefits while opponents who feel the cons outweigh any benefits will claim that single-sex schools are not the best educational setting. Whether same-sex schools are beneficial or not may depend on whom is asked.

Benefits of same-sex schools for boys

In ‘The Benefits of Same-Sex Education for Boys,’ Zach Rego says that “trying to impress girls is distracting.” Trying to impress girls may well be one of the disadvantages of students attending co-ed schools, particularly when boys and girls reach the age of trying to impress each other instead of the typical early education claims of “I hate boys” or “I hate girls.”

When boys are more tuned in to trying to get a girls’ attention or trying to get a certain girl to like them, there may be less attention paid to the teacher in the classroom. Similarly, if boys start talking to female classmates on the telephone or they begin texting each other frequently, some boys may spend less time on completing homework and studying for tests as the girls command more and more of their time. In a same-sex school, where there are no girls, other than female staff members, those distractions do not exist in the educational setting.

Discipline and social pressures can be reduced

Brad Adams, who is the executive director of Toronto International Boys’ School Coalition claims that by keeping boys together in school settings, “Boys’ schools can balance rules and order and good discipline.” Perhaps the idea that there may be less discipline problems with boys in a single-sex school comes from the possibility that there is less social pressure in an all-boys school. In fact, that is exactly what is suggested by the Military School for Boys article ‘Reasons to Choose Boys Schools.”

Behaviors such as showing off, talking to girls in the classroom or passing notes to girls during classroom time will be eliminated if there are no girls to show off for or to talk to while the teacher is trying to teach the class. This may also decrease the amount of disciplinary problems where boys talk back to teachers when caught passing notes or talking during class instruction. Boys will not feel pressured by male peers to find a girlfriend among classmates or to pursue sexual relations with a girl at school if boys have no girls in their school setting.

Gender stereotypes are eliminated

In an all-boys school, the consideration that boys are more likely to fail and therefore may garner less help from teachers is eliminated. ‘The Benefits of Same-Sex Education for Boys’ article claims that “statistics say that boys are 30 percent more likely to drop out – or flunk out – of school.” Also claimed is that teen boys from ages 15 to 19 are four times more likely to commit suicide.

Boys are also more likely to receive a diagnosis of being hyperactive and placed in special education classes. Such classifications may contribute to diminished self-esteem. When there are only boys in the classroom, teachers can gear instruction to “the boy brain.”

Boys may also be more likely to participate better in classes that are often associated with girls performing at a higher level, such as art, music or language arts.

Cons of an all-boys school setting exist

While there may be several reasons to support single-sex schooling for boys, there are also reasons which may lead many parents and educators to be against it. One of the reasons is the idea that boys are not able to experience relating to girls. This may lead to problems communicating with females later in life. In the UK’s Guardian, The Observer article, ‘Why single-sex education is not the route to better results,’ one of Britain’s leading experts on gender differences says that the answer to improving educational experiences for boys is not by separating them into same-sex schools. Simon Baron-Cohen says that “a strong reason for co-education is that separating children for a number of years means they will not be mixing and learning about each other.”

Lack of diversity

When boys attend a same-sex school, there is a lack of diversity. As University Language Services explains in ‘Co-ed vs. Single Sex Schools,’ “the real world is not single-sex.” If a boy attends a single-sex school for elementary school years and high-school, then adjusting to having an environment where females are naturally present either in the college classroom or the workplace environment may become an issue for the boy who is not used to having females in their natural educational or work environment.

Socialization may be a problem

When boys attend a single-sex school, dating may be an issue when the boys get older. Most boys may typically find their first dates or even a future wife at high school. Taking a high school classmate out for a movie or dinner, to the high school dance or prom are events that usually occur in most co-ed high schools. If a boy attends a single-sex school there are no girls at school to ask out. The dating pool is greatly diminished. Even when same-sex schools attempt to take the socialization issue into consideration and students at an all-boys school may be chauffeured to an all-girls school for a school dance, the fact remains that there may be socialization issues. The boys will not know any of the girls there and may be extremely shy to just walk up to a strange girl and ask her to dance or out on a date. At a co-ed school, while boys may exhibit some shyness when approaching a girl for a date, he is in his own comfortable educational setting and not at a strange school approaching a girl who is a complete stranger.

Cost may be a factor

In many single-sex schools, such schools may often be private schools. To attend a single-sex school, a boys’ parents may have to pay tuition for their son to attend the private all boys single-sex school. In many communities, such schools may only be affordable to the families who are more well-off financially. This isolates the boys even more as they may not have the experience of making friends at school from all socio-economic backgrounds.

Whether a parent or educator is in favor of or strongly against boys attending single-sex schools, there are both pros and cons to boys’ same-sex schools. Parents and educators must weigh the pros and cons to make the best decision