Tuesday, April 13, 2010

All-Girls Schools? Research Supports Them

So what do I think about my all-girls' high school education? Best thing I ever did for myself. Did I advise our teen to make the same choice? No way -- different young woman, different era. Yet, there's much to be said for the all-girl approach, though for the most part it's only available through private schools.

There are two all-girls public high schools in the U.S. that have been around a long time. Mine, Western High School in Baltimore, was founded in 1844. The Philadelphia School for Girls was founded four years later. When I chose an all-girls school back then, there wasn't much choice. Of the four major high schools in my part of town, two were for boys, two for girls. I opted to go to Western after a horrible middle school experience (now I know it's almost always tough) because I wanted a fresh start, the school seemed more academically sound, and I could take two languages.

I soon made many great friends and we studied, laughed, commiserated and, perhaps most importantly, competed with each other. It was healthy competition that helped shape me -- since I didn't do sports and knew nothing of that kind of competitive comraderie.

I made my choice to go all-girls for personal reasons. I didn't know then about studies showing higher academic performance by girls who attend same-sex schools.

My regret was that as I grew academically, I remained somewhat stunted socially: comfortable with children, all adults and girl peers but ill-at-ease with boys. I chose a co-ed college, and the discomfort and shyness lasted throughout those years.

To quote Osgood in our teen's favorite film, "Well, nobody's perfect!" Nor is any education.

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