Leadership Benefits of Single-Sex Education
For over a century, Benedictine has found a partner in the all-girl Saint Gertrude High School.
While we don’t mix during the school day, there are plenty of opportunities for common ground.
For example, each of our senior leaders (“sponsoring officers”) invites a Saint Gertrude senior or junior to be his compadre (or “sponsor”), a role that has the young lady accompany him to events such as Homecoming, military-themed events and dances.
Throughout the year, the two schools enjoy joint events, such as Homecoming, Prom Field Day, ice cream socials and a Cadet-Gator freshman picnic.
Although their school is sited in the city’s Museum District, we still manage to get together with our partner school. It’s worth the effort, since we cherish our partnership with Saint Gertrude.
"It is hard to fail. But it worse to never have tried to succeed"--Teddy Roosevelt
"If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward"--MLK
"One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes"--Benjamin Disraeli
"Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one."--Marcus Aurelius
"I mean to make myself a man, and if I succeed in that, I shall succeed in everything else."--James A. Garfield
Girls often outperform boys in knowledge and skills tests, and boys often score significantly lower than girls in reading and writing tests. Schools for boys tailor their curriculum to suit how boys learn best, and often result in higher academic success.
All-boys’ schools offer a welcoming and challenging educational environment. Boys receive close care and guidance, and are encouraged to engage in all aspects of school life that may otherwise be taken over by girls.
Single-sex schools can offer an atmosphere free from stigma and stereotypes. Boys can discover their true identity in the safety of the community. They are also encouraged to build their emotional sides, which is more difficult in co-ed situations. To learn more, click here.
Without gender stereotypes associated with some course options, boys can be free to pursue any subject they are interested in. This includes those that may be typically seen as “female” in co-ed schools. Boys are also able to participate in any extracurricular activity they choose, from sports to theatre productions. This opens up a boy’s choice for academic goals and future career aspirations.
Boys' schools offer young men the chance to separate themselves from girls and focus on learning. Boys' schools allow educators to take advantage of the fact that boys learn differently from girls. Recent research has reinforced an understanding of this difference.
A focus on academics for boys
The focus on academics—coupled with increased engagement and learning—are among the reasons that boys’ schools are increasing in popularity. “It’s not just the absence of girls that gives the school legitimacy,” says Brad Adams, Executive Director of the International Boys’ School Coalition. “What matters most is the quality of the teaching and the sensitivity of that teaching to optimize student motivation.”
For Mark, a focus on hands-on learning, including designing and building roller coasters and conducting science lab experiments, was the highlight of his high school experience. But, as Adams explains, single-gender schools also offer a safe place for boys to take risks, express their emotions and explore subjects such as the arts and literature. What is typically considered “un-cool” by an adolescent trying to impress the opposite sex, is actually celebrated and encouraged in a single-gender environment.
The advantages of boys’ schools
For some, the benefits of a single-gender school are best realized at a young age. According to Kathryn Kirkland, head of the Junior School at Royal St. George’s College, boys in the primary years often lag 18 months cognitively behind girls. “If you’re constantly being told to sit down and be quiet, then it starts to affect your happiness and self-perception as a student and a learner,” Kirkland says. “Here, we give the boys the freedom to be who they are and the encouragement to succeed.”
But, what of the transition in later life to a co-ed learning and working environment? “These boys are not isolated from socialization with girls and they get plenty of opportunities to work in co-ed groups on extracurricular projects,” Adams says.
Mark, who is heading to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario in the fall, says he’s not concerned. “For the first few weeks, it might be a bit of an adjustment, but I don’t think it will be a problem,” he says. “Overall, I loved the all-boys’ experience—I stepped up and took every opportunity that I could and developed lifelong friendships along the way.”
Boys’ schools are not simply “schools comprised of boys,” but schools for boys, says Brad Adams, executive director of The International Boys’ Schools Coalition, a global network of 200 leading schools for boys.
“They are designed in every way to respond to their needs, to harness their potential and to guide them along the journey towards full and responsible manhood,” he says.
According to Adams, great schools for boys start with how boys learn. “Good teachers in these schools have always plied their craft with intuitive good sense and wise observation about what ‘works’ to engage boys,” he says. Schools for boys teach to the ways boys learn best, with a strong competitive and active component. They are also savvy in deploying approaches that lift achievement in reading and writing—where many boys struggle.
Exposure to the arts
Many are already aware that boys’ schools are great places for sports, with topnotch facilities and programs, but Adams points out that the first stop on a tour of a thriving school for boys is often the new fine arts studio, theatre, the design and technology facility or the music rehearsal and performance spaces. Schools for boys can be highly effective in encouraging them to explore these areas.
He says that there is also evidence that students in schools for boys are more likely to explore subjects that might be considered “unmasculine” and to pursue a broader range of disciplines and vocations thereafter.
“The distinct advantage of an all-boys’ learning environment means that boys routinely and naturally rise to tasks that girls might otherwise do,” he says.
“Boys lead in every aspect of classroom discussion and participation and show a wider, more complete range of engagement and thought than might be the case in a coed environment.”
Growing up can be difficult for boys who can pick up the message that emotional connectedness and expression are unmanly: better to hide behind that tough-skinned exterior. This leaves many boys vulnerable and alone, often without support and skill and, in many cases, unable to express their feelings.
That’s where boys’ schools come in. Boys’ schools provide an empathy-building environment with staff that is well able to respond to their needs, Adams says.
Tackling issues head-on
“Medical research from around the world is consistent: men—and boys—are not very good at taking care of themselves,” Adams says. “They are more likely than girls to engage in high-risk activities, abuse substances and commit violence. Far more boys than girls are diagnosed with learning disabilities and medicated.”
These issues are tackled head-on at boys’ schools, which aim to keep students active, fit and engaged and provide support and counselling according to Adams. Boys’ schools are able to tackle the toughest issues in assemblies and in the curriculum.
The business of boyhood
While setting clear and firm boundaries and expectations, schools for boys are wise about the business of boyhood. “Educators in schools for boys champion them as rich in potential to achieve,” says Adams.