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. To learn more, click here.
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 coed learning and working environment? “These boys are not isolated from socialization with girls and they get plenty of opportunities to work in coed 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.”