Photo by Salt Water New England

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Thoughts on Single Sex Prep Schools?

Photo by My Father

 

25 comments:

  1. They're preppier and there are fewer distractions.

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    1. Unless you're gay or lesbian, hun.

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  2. The all-girls’ boarding school I attended was truly the most formative experience of my life. I still keep in close touch with classmates, faculty, and staff, and am part of a book group with alumnae in our local area. It’s an amazing experience to continue to connect today with so many women across all ages and walks of life. This is the experience that shaped me in the most fundamental and positive ways.

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  3. I think it depends on the child. Among my siblings, our spouses, and our children, an unscientific sample size of 14 people, 10 attended public secondary school, two attended coed boarding schools, and two attended all-female private schools. Of the two who attended all-female schools, all their siblings attended public school. The all-female environment worked well for the two who attended.

    Boys and girls at single-gender schools still interact a lot with the 'other gender,' using that term loosely given the spectrum of options children choose these days, just not in the classroom or living situation if it's a boarding school. In that sense, I agree that the all boys or girls' schools lack certain challenges one normally sees in a coed situation....but going to school with all girls or boys has different (and not always positive) issues.

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  4. I think it's very dependent upon the child and the school. We've had family members who have attended single sex schools for whom it was a most unpleasant experience, but have heard, anecdotally, that other children fared quite well at the same schools. It's important to pay attention to the child and observe how he/she is faring. If you pay attention, you can easily see if it's working or not. I'm not against them, per se, and they may still benefit some students enormously. The pressure of co-ed interactions for the 14-17 year old crowd is a very real thing that can be mitigated in this way.

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  5. I went to an all male high school. It was dreadful. I did well in the classes and got into an excellent college but the days were dreary and lacking all the charms females bring to any situation. I didn't really know how to behave toward girls until about junior year in college.

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    1. I taught in an all-male school for several years. It's true that certain distractions were eliminated, but in some respects boys do not try very hard as human beings in the absence of girls. Female students are also more likely to communicate well with teachers and generally have a greater desire to please. All in all, I preferred teaching in a mixed group.

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  6. I was not wild about it, but it seems that the few girls I occasionally ran into were doing well in their boarding schools. It has been since 1967, and I have not been back, neither have I ventured back to my all male college. All of my alma maters went coeducational ages ago and are surely the better for it.

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  7. I think it can be fantastic, but is highly dependent on the values and culture that is set, modeled, and enforced by the adults in charge. I can only speak to boys schools and camps, but have seen all-male schools and camps which are incredible and where many different types of boys thrive. And I have seen all-boys schools and camps which are essentially toxic, where only the most athletic, socially-skilled, or dominant boys thrive. Those toxic environments can be downright dangerous (mentally, physically, and emotionally) to some boys and parents need to be careful when selecting a school or camp.

    That said, I thrived in all-male environments and on balance am a fan of single sex education. There are too many distractions that the opposite sex introduces and being in an all-male or all-female environment enables adolescents - when they are at the peak of exploring who they are - to explore safely. The penalty for stumbling is lower.

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  8. Dad went in the 50s; my brother and I went in the 80s; and now my son goes in the 20s; boys from every background are told to leave their circumstances at the door, and instead be known instead by their character & achievement; music and theater programs are celebrated as enthusiastically as are the athletic programs.

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  9. All female Catholic school in the 80's that is still thriving today in the suburbs of Chicago.
    I am grateful for the wonderful clerical and lay teachers who gave their all for very small salaries.
    For me, it was so much easier to focus on my studies and not worry about what to wear and who was looking.
    It was a privilege to attend.


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    1. All female Catholic school in the 70's in Westchester and you bet your sweet bippy that we worried what to wear. The hair ribbon (or headband) matched the shirt that matched the sweater that matched the argyle knee socks......It was also hell on my mother, since you only had a couple of uniform kilts that were always illusive in the morning - lol.

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  10. Matching a child's needs to what an institution is able to deliver is very important. I had a wonderful experience. However, my brother did not. It can be hell for a student who is not in the right place. Sadly, for my parents boarding was a convenient way to deal with the bother of being responsible for children. It was a blessing for me, as I was able to have other, healthier, adult role models. My brother didn't see it that way, felt abandoned, and acted out. He's still bitter about his experience and hasn't accepted that he's likely emotionally healthier than if he had been allowed to stay at home.

    Also, on the topic of "distractions"... learning to deal with distraction is an extremely healthy life skill. Even in single-sex situations, not all students share a single orientation. The distraction of attraction is always there for some. As long as the expectation isn't "boys will be boys" and is instead "boys will be gentleman," order can be maintained. It is pretty disturbing to live in a society that often holds males to a lower standard because it is believed that they are incapable of controlling themselves.

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  11. The notion that the opposite sex is always a "distraction" is a hangover from another time when it was expected that all girls were "boy crazy" and all boys were sex fiends, and couldn't possibly be expected to co-exist in close quarters. It reduces young people to their hormones and their secondary sexual characteristics, which is pretty arcane.There are all sorts of "distractions" in single sex boarding schools. The presence of the opposite sex does not always rank high on that potential list.

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  12. I attended an all boys school (graduation 1974) and it is still all boys and still producing outstanding citizens. Diversity is the name of the game today and so hell yes there should be options. Let the buyer decide what type of educational experience is best. Everyone is different and nothing like school choice!

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  13. Should be at least an option!

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  14. Single Sex Prep Schools are not normal. They are based on the British system, which was very restrictive and disciplined. Therefore, they are not a healthy environment for a teenager. Yes, you are focused and disciplined and there are benefits. However, as a developmental environment is unbalanced and unhealthy. The inevitable adjustment of college interacting with the opposite sex can cause some people to go off the rails in an excessive manner.

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    1. Could be. However, until relatively recently, there were single sex colleges. It seems that they were paired to a degree with another single sex school of the opposite sex. I have no idea if such things still exist. My wife attended Mary Washington College, now a university, soon after it had gone co-ed, formerly women only. The University of Virginia had been men only until 1970 and I think the two schools were closely associated.

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    2. As of 2019, there were only three accredited four-year men's colleges remaining: Hampden-Sydney, Morehouse, and Wabash. There were thirty-four for women, down from nearly three hundred in the 1960s. Another example of what you're talking about is Notre Dame (which went co-ed around 1970) and St. Mary's right across the street. Women's colleges near military academies have always been common also. I used to teach in a boarding school for at-risk boys, and it was paired with a boarding school for at-risk girls. I have never decided whether this was wise or foolish.

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    3. The year 1970 must have been a watershed year for some reason. At the time my wife was attending Mary Washington, it was still practically an all-girl (that is, all women) school.

      I've mentioned before that my wife's grandparents were both employed at a boy's boarding school in Lynchburg, Virginia. The school is still going strong. That's where my wife's mother and her sister grew up. Another family member operated a girl's summer camp for many years (which I've also mentioned), now being operated by his son. In the best summer camp tradition, there is a nearby boy's summer camp.

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    4. "Hampden-Sydney, Morehouse, and Wabash"

      There's also St. John's in Minnesota. Sometimes they don't get counted as a men's college since they file some academic paperwork together with St. Ben's, but they're culturally very much still a men's college.

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  15. I went to a military school in Tennessee(Sewanee). It was a Lord of the Flies environment, with bullies running the school. It was toxic in every way. I would never send a young person to any boarding school. Young folks need mentoring, and guidance, which they will not get at boarding school.

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  16. My siblings and most of my cousins attended single-sex boarding schools. I’ve also had dozens of friends who have attended both single sex and coed boarding schools. It seems to be that some thrive and some come out of the situation scarred.
    I think that most people do need a lot of parental guidance and assistance. And a small minority do not need it at all.

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  17. The issue regarding Single Sex Prep Schools is not the specific school, or time it is the culture. Having attended an "old School" prestigious prep school there were aspects that were excellent and other aspects that were unbalanced. I had a very beneficial experience. Academics, athletics and mentoring were very good and genuinely caring. Real life experience learning about women was nonexistent. Not good for a boy, or girl. It is irrelevant the relative perceived prestige of the school, what matters is the environment being real world, or an imaginary world. Having been married 64 years I eventually learned a very little about women, but definitely believe a coeducational education is preferable.

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