Do single-sex environments assist academic progress of both girls and boys?
According to Frances Jensen author of “The Teenage Brain”, the part of the brain that processes information grows during childhood and then starts to scale down, reaching a peak level of cognitive development usually when girls are between 12 and 13 years old and when boys are 15 to 16 years old.
Without wishing to be sexist certainly my experience as a mother to two sons and a daughter would concur with this statement. My daughter was much more mature in her approach to everything than her brothers at a similar age. She prepared her own school bag from Year 6 and wrote messages on the family diary to remind me of school events taken from the school calendar. She added to our shopping list stuck to the fridge her ingredient requirements for food lessons that week and organised meeting friends in the holidays and at weekends. Whereas I have lost count of the number of mercy dashes made to my sons’ school before they closed on a Friday to retrieve books and sports equipment needed for homework and matches over the weekend.
According to Jensen “The girls have a level of organization where they’re doing complex scheduling and social arrangements, and making lists. Meanwhile, boys at that same age, you’re lucky if they remember to bring their books home from school.”
Jensen takes her argument a little further when she suggests that boys and girls would progress best at school if subjects were studied at the right level of maturity for them at that time. She claims that girls are capable of more challenging work at a different, and arguably, earlier point to boys.
This isn’t a problem encountered at a single-sex school such as PHS and another good argument for educating all children in this type of environment.