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JUNE 2016





oreign Service parents

strive to make the best

educational choices for

their children, whether

in the United States or

posted abroad. One

option gaining attention

is single-sex education,

whether at post schools or at boarding

schools, in the United States or abroad, in

single classrooms or entire schools, from

kindergarten through college.

Once considered a vestige of the Victo-

rian era, single-sex education is currently

gaining popularity. While the notion may

call to mind images of stuffy institutions

in idyllic settings, parents and students

increasingly value such an education

based on the knowledge that differences

exist in the ways both boys and girls learn,

and that teachers at single-sex schools

Marybeth Hunter is the educa-

tion and youth officer at the

State Department’s Family

Liaison Office.

Take listening skills, for instance:

Boys often need to hear instructions at

a higher volume of speech for increased

comprehension. Likewise, research

suggests that boys are more receptive to

action-oriented, tactile presentations in

the classroom. Another study indicates

that, in general, boys are more vocal than

girls on teams and prefer group work to

independent study.

As for females, researchers find that

girls learn better when the nuances of

color, texture and smell are introduced.

Girls reportedly performbetter academi-

cally in a warmer classroom, while boys

performbetter in a classroom at least five

degrees cooler than their female counter-

parts prefer.

In a single-sex setting, instructors can

vary teaching methods to bring out the

best in their students. When educators

tailor their approach to boost academic

success, this contributes to psychologi-

cal and emotional success. That said, it is

important to keep in mind that teachers

may not always be trained properly to

tailor their teaching style and material to

respond to those differences.

The benefits of single-sex education

reveal themselves in a variety of ways. For

instance, educators at single-sex schools

have reported that students attending

their schools demonstrate increased

confidence in their abilities. Also, pro-

ponents of single-sex education argue

that such confidence has impact beyond

the academic arena by furthering social

skills and strengthening future boy-girl


The common social pressures existing

in coed environments are absent, enabling

student development without potential

distractions from the opposite sex.

Gender-Based Learning


Teachers have long been aware that

learning styles among students can vary

significantly. Research suggests that boys

and girls might benefit more from diver-

gent teaching styles that cater to their

respective biological profiles.

All Girls, All Boys, All Good—

The Benefits of

Single-Sex Education

Once considered a vestige of the Victorian era, single-sex education is enjoying a resurgence.