The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
6 Points

Students from single sex schools fare better than children at mixed sex schools.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/28/2014 Category: Education
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,320 times Debate No: 67604
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (1)




First round is acceptance, second is for arguments, third is for attack and the fourth round is for defence.


I'm happy to engage in mercenary work for the Con side!
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting this debate beagle_hugs.

I am arguing that students at single sex schools fare better than children at mixed sex schools on four main grounds.

1) Confidence.

Successful people are those who are confident. Confident in their abilities, in the workplace, in their home etc. Confidence breeds success. In a single sex environment students are likely to be far more confident in themselves and in their abilities. At single sex schools there is no sense that sports like football and rugby are for boys whilst netball and badminton are for girls. There is no sense that girls should be good at English, Art and textiles whilst boys should excel in Maths, Science and woodwork. Single sex schools are devoid of gender stereotypes which gives girls the confidence to pursue typically male oriented subjects and gives boys the chance to pursue more female oriented subjects. There are no gender related expectations which means that students at single sex schools are given the opportunity to pursue what they really want to and what they're good at rather than some unrealistic ideal.

Single sex schools also make for an environment that allows students to become more confident in themselves. It gives students a chance to spend their time exploring who they are rather than exploring the opposite sex. Girls can freely raise their hands and answer questions that they know without the fear of being labelled a "geek" or a know it all. Boys can question things they don't understand without worrying that they seem stupid in front of a girl. Students at single sex schools can simply be themselves without trying to attract the opposite sex and can truly focus on their education.

A person who truly knows who they are and who has a good strong education will quite frankly, fare better in the world. A person able to discover themselves fully- free of embarrassing puberty, or a self conscious desire to be attractive- will be more confident. A person with a strong academic record will be confident in their abilities and confident in their aspirations to follow a particular career. A confident person is one who is able to develop properly in their own right and given the best possible chance of academic success. Such a person is one who attends a single-sex school.

2) Distractions.

Girls are distracted by boys and boys are distracted by girls. Even if only because it's not what we know, it something that we are not. With age comes puberty and sexual desire and before you know it girls aged 13 are learning how to flaunt their new breasts and slight curves. These same girls are trying out their mother's make up in an attempt to make themselves as attractive to the other sex as possible. Boys kissing girls, touching girls etc. It becomes the pursuit of the young, hormonal teenager. It's annoying, it's inevitable and it's something that all teenagers have to deal with. Let them deal with it at the weekends, let them deal with these newfound feelings in the evenings but spare them the embarrassment, the effort and the distraction from the hours of 9-4pm and they will be better for it. Girls at all girls schools can saunter in without make up, wearing any old clothes, can eat what they want for lunch without feeling conscious, can raise their hands in classes, can properly run about in sports not concerned with their bodies and can focuse on their friendships, studies and who they are. Boys don't have to worry about who they want to ask out, why they're still virgins and why they can't grow a beard when their best friend has stubble already. Its ONE less, ONE huge distraction that students can be spared during their school days. With no distraction, students can focus on their studies more and on who they are which, in the long run will make them fare better.

3) Babies, STDs, pregnancy scares etc.

At a single sex school there is 1) less chance of meeting someone of the opposite gender and 2) less chance of fondling, tumbling around, having sex etc. Therefore, chances are- that the ramifications of sexual activity are less likely to occur during the school days. This means that whatever money any student has (not much) can be spent on themselves and not on pregnancy tests or a baby. It means students have one less thing to worry about without the added pressure of a missed period, a possible STD or a cheating partner. Women don't have to suffer the "glass ceiling" before they've even paved their careers and left school. It means students aren't tied down with a baby and so can travel the world after school or attend university in a different location or a different country. Students can properly spend these formative years making (rightfully) selfish decisions to better their lives, their education, their opportunities without having to think about their partner or their children. It means that students from single sex schools can think about their lives, can plan and make fully informed decisions about who they want to share parenthood with and when without having to submit to any foolish decisions/mistakes made as a self conscious, naive teenager. The end result? Someome who has lived their life how they want to and made key decisions to better their future. On a personal, professional and familial level- this enables students at single sex schools the chance to fare better in life,

4) It's proven that single sex education works!

Boys study better with boys. Girls study better with girls. The stats, reflect this. Boys and girls learn in different ways and schools simply cannot tailor towards this when they are trying to educate both boys and girls together. Single sex schools however, are far more able to accommodate their students accordingly, giving them a better education, the opportunity to pursue a better career and overall enabling them to fare better in life. This is illustrated by the fact that students from single sex schools are more likely to pursue further education and are more likely to get better results. This is afterall the purpose of an education and the foundations for a successful life academically and on a personal level as students become confident adults secure in their abilities and who they are before they start to explore the opposite sex later in life.


Glad to oblige!

Although "attack" is reserved for the next round, the nature of my position is that I must attack the proposition, which I will do without any particular response to Pro's opening argument. I am arguing against the proposition that students at same-sex schools fare better than students at mixed-sex schools. There are several fundamental problems with this proposition, as it is usually made. I do not need to establish a positive case that coed schools produce better outcomes than same-sex schools; however, I will offer some reasons why coed schools could produce better outcomes.

First, the proposition is universal, while students of a particular gender are likely to vary in their characteristics. For this reason, even experts who study this issue and advocate for single-sex schools qualify their advocacy, stating that single-sex education is not best for every child. [1] One reason for the qualification is that assumptions about the learning styles of girls and boys, even if true, do not hold true for each girl or each boy. [1] It is logical to extrapolate and observe that, in an era of increased understanding of the difference between sex, gender, and orientation, that a perfunctory separation based on sex is unlikely to be positive for each child.

Second, the data do not bear out the claim that same-sex schools produce better outcomes. Although some studies have claimed to find evidence of academic advantages associated with singe-sex schooling, subsequent studies have exposed that research as flawed. [2] For instance, the single-sex schools producing better test scores were already selective in admissions, and students who did not do well tended to drop out. When such factors are accounted for, there is no evidence that single-sex schools produce better outcomes. [2] On the other end of the spectrum, studies showing some advantages for at-risk students should not be interpreted to imply broad advantages to students who do not share their characteristics, even though such differences may be ignored by advocates who simply aggregate favorable data. [2, 3] There is a lack of quality studies to support the claim that single-sex schooling has measurable academic advantages. [1] In fact, a broad survey of the literature shows that, for a number of outcomes (both short term and long term, both academic and cultural) the research does not establish that students at single-sex schools fare better. [3] Ultimately, the breadth of curriculum and the quality of the school are better predictors of whether a student will "fare better." [4]

Third, there is reason to believe that same-sex education does little to rectify the purported disadvantages of coeducation. In fact, some studies have indicated that focusing on sex separation leads to increased stereotyping and eliminates the chance for students of both sexes to learn positive ways of perceiving and interacting under the guidance of adults. [1] Furthermore, claims that same-sex education leads to better self-esteem for girls and enhanced learning for boys have been refuted by current studies. [5] Finally, the claim that girls and boys learn differently is of limited significance, because the main difference in learning styles occurs in adults and may be the result of educational approaches that assume differences based on sex. [1,2] The neurobiology does not support the claim that boys and girls have such different brains or brain development that different educational approaches based on sex are justified or useful. [6]

Because the evidence does not establish that same-sex schools produce better outcomes, there is no reason to believe a claim that students who attend a same-sex school will fare better than those who are coeducated. On this demonstration alone, the reader should reject the proposed resolution. However, even if the reader does not agree that the evidence fails to support the resolution, there are some basic reasons why one could expect a coeducated student to fare better.

From the beginnings of Western philosophy, thinkers have suspected that integration of the sexes will afford great advantages to society and have asserted that women must learn the same things as men. [7] While that is a societal observation and not about individual advantage, we now live in a sex-integrated society. It is unclear why education is not part of preparation for living in that society or why girls and boys do not need to be aware of each other's learning processes (if they are different, which is in doubt). In fact, it is much more logical to conclude that girls and boys need to understand and integrate with each other in a structured environment where well-trained, conscientious professionals provide appropriate guidance.

Ultimately, the evidence does not support the superiority of same-sex schooling, and coeducational schooling could be important for preparing students for a sex-integrated society. The approach should be on to train teachers appropriately so that, whatever a student's (or parent's) choice, the instructor is prepared to help the student "fare better." [4] Even if it is trivially the case that some students fare better at a same-sex school, that does not speak to whether this state of affairs is necessary or is, instead, the result of a failure to address prejudices and provide better instruction.

In conclusion, the reader should reject the proposed resolution. While some students might fare better at a same sex school, the universal resolution is unlikely to be true and is rejected even by same-sex schooling advocates. The data, furthermore, do not support that the resolution is even true on average. Instead, the initial data generated by advocates of same-sex education was inconclusive, and our current understanding is that such data was flawed. The evidence supports a resolution that single sex schools are no better than mixed sex schools. Finally, because we live in an integrated society, devising educational approaches that reflect that reality and educate children about living in a sex-integrated society is important. In evaluating this kind of resolution, which has policy implications, we should not focus on the trivial question of what might be better for one student today. Instead, we should question whether it makes more sense to focus on factors that have been shown to be more important in educational outcomes, such as proper training of instructors and an adequate breadth of curriculum. I believe it does.


[1] Amy Novotney, Coed versus single-sex ed, American Psychological Association (2011),
[2] Diane F. Halpern et al, The Pseudoscience of Single-Sex Schooling, Education Forum (2011),
[3] U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, doc # 2005-1, Single Sex Versus Coeducational Schooling: A Systematic Review,
[4] M. Theresa Gnezda, PhD., What's Best? Single-Sex or Coed Schools, Washington Parent,
[5] Rebecca Klien, Single Sex Education Does Not Improve Girls' Self-Esteem, Math Achievement: STUDY, The Huffington Post (2014),
[6] Summary of article in Sex Roles, by Lise Eliot (2011),
[7] Plato's Republic.
Debate Round No. 2


Helen_91 forfeited this round.


I will respond to Pro's arguments by first showing that the sources she has cited do not support a proposition that same-sex education produces better outcomes and then by responding to her arguments more particularly.

A. Sources

1. The Pro's main source is an advocacy website that, by nature of its function, cannot be taken as a source that discusses all relevant data. The sources I have cited are, generally, neutral and attempt to be exhaustive in their discussion of the evidence. Researchers doing genuine meta-analysis account for the fact that publication bias is rather severe in certain areas, especially social sciences. Social science null results rarely see the light of day (, so it is not that difficult for an advocacy website to present the appearance that the evidence supports its preferred position. As the more thorough meta-analysis I have cited shows, however, that the evidence does not support a resolution that gender-segregation results in better outcomes.

2. The Pro's main source relies on studies that are unlikely to be relevant to a universal claim that children fare better at same-sex schools. For instance, the study first discussed was done in South Korea, a nation that has a gender hierarchy in favor of men ( that has not been seriously studied by Koreans, at least not until recent years ( Applying that study universally or in a nation like the U.S., where the gender gap ( is much different from that in Korea ( is highly questionable.

The study the Pro seems to focus on is the Stetson study. Although the advocacy website does not provide a clear link to the study, the other source cited by the Pro is in fact a very incomplete description of that study. A lengthier interview with the individuals carrying out the study show that it was a very small study, that there was likely a selection bias (parents who thought their children might benefit were the ones to choose to have their children in same-sex classrooms), and there was likely a Hawthorne effect (because the students teachers are in fact aware of what they are trying to show and do). In any case, the researchers who undertook the study denied the proposition that same-sex education is universally preferable (

In conclusion (regarding the Pro's use of sources), she has failed to meet her burden by failing to show with any specificity which of her claims her sources support, and furthermore, her sources rely heavily on publication bias and misrepresentation of the applicability and inferential power of the studies cited.

B. Pro's Arguments

In evaluating the Pro's arguments, the reader should not lend any weight to the fact that she has cited a couple of sources. As shown already, those sources do not support her resolution. But in any case, the Pro's sources are not specifically cited, throwing the work of researching which of her claims the sources support onto the reader. We should ignore her sources as a mere assertion that support is out there, somewhere. But, let's move on to an analysis of her assertions.

1. The Pro asserts that same-sex schooling leads to more confidence, but this is purely an assertion without any evidence offered whatsoever. The only way to agree with Pro's claims is to be suggestible or already agree with her--she has established nothing in this section on "confidence." Furthermore, it is unclear what liking one sport or subject or another has to do with "confidence." Perhaps it does, but the Pro hasn't explained why, other than to suggest that removing the experience of the other gender will somehow increase a person's ability to know himself or herself. Why? How do you know "yourself" if you do not know how you interact with others?

The most serious flaw is that the Pro proceeds to assert that single sex schools are devoid of gender stereotypes, when at least the fourth point of her argument is based entirely in false stereotypes about the differences between male and female learning (the falsity of the stereotypes is discussed in my first argument) as well as a number of stereotypes about how girls and boys behave around one another, as if those are immutable characteristics of all boys and girls. Another serious serious problem with the "stereotype" argument is that there is absolutely no reason to believe that segregation reduces stereotyping. Logically, limiting experience through segregation should increase stereotyping, and as discussed in my arguments, it does.

2. I'm not sure what to make of the argument about "distractions." Again, the evidence I have cited isn't favorable to the concept that reducing "distractions" is a panacea. But the main problem here is that treating the other gender as a "distraction" during school is simply playing a game of kick-the-can. In gender-integrated societies, people will need to interact with the other sex in a work (and likely school) environment at some point. There is no reason to believe that the result is better if gender interaction is pushed completely into a non-supervised or distant-future aspect.

3. In response to sex (and distractions, to some extent), it's worth pointing out that many studies focus on gender-segregated classrooms, not gender-segregated schools. So the claim that there is support out there for gender segregation in education is somewhat inconsistent with the Pro's assumptions that gender-mixing would not occur at school. Because sexual relations in the book cabinet of a classroom are somewhat unlikely, the slim possibility that some youngsters get it on in the broom closet has not really been eliminated by much of the gender segregated schooling that is discussed. But more importantly, how rational is it to be discussing sex at school? I'm sure it happens, but I'm also sure that it's not what's causing a "glass ceiling" for women. Again, the pro is essentially arguing that by segregating the genders during supervised education, the problems of sex, stds, pregnancy, and so forth will be reduced. She offers zero evidence for the proposition that removing all supervised interaction and forcing gender-interaction into the quasi-forbidden zone is likely to reduce irresponsible experimentation with sex. I think we can all draw reasonable conclusions about what happens when adolescents are presented with such a situation, and those conclusions do not support the pro. Besides, there is evidence from around the world that dual gender solutions are needed in education to address problems like gender stereotyping, sexual harassment, and unwanted pregnancies ( Even though a conversation about such issues might be more comfortable in a single-sex environment, it is ultimately a conversation that must happen, at least in part, in a coeducational environment.

4. It's actually not at all proven that single sex education works, as shown in my discussion of the pro's sources and in my initial arguments. There's no reason to repeat that information.

C. Conclusion

In conclusion, the Pro's sources are weak and their analysis is based on publication bias and misrepresentation. The pro's arguments are simply statements of her own opinions without properly referenced factual support and without any inherently compelling qualities, as I have shown. In fact, it is unlikely that her 2nd and 3rd points are even relevant in most same-sex educational approaches, and there are adequate reasons to doubt that same-sex classrooms are a panacea--they may even exacerbate problems discussed.
Debate Round No. 3


Helen_91 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by jzonda415 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: F.F.