The Northshore is blessed with three great Catholic high schools in one geographic area. For seventh and eighth grade parents and students, this makes the high school choice a difficult one. A number of factors influence this decision: academics, faith life, alumni affiliations, location, and coed vs single-sex settings. For some families, this last choice can be the most challenging.
Debate persists about the merits of coeducation versus single-sex education. Conflicting research supports each view, with no definitive answer to which offers the greatest advantages. Ultimately, the choice comes down to the school that works best for your student – the place he or she can fully develop in mind, body, and soul.
At Archbishop Hannan, we strongly believe that a coed learning environment provides students with multiple benefits:
- Coeducation is an authentic, real-world experience. We prepare students to collaborate and lead in the world they will inherit. An insular environment that separates students from the opposite sex can lead to misunderstandings based on biases and stereotypes. By learning in an environment that more closely resembles the real world, students develop more positive interpersonal skills that prepare them to succeed personally and professionally.
- Coed schools allow siblings to learn together. In a coed environment, siblings have the opportunity to share the same learning experiences, regardless of gender. Parents don’t have to juggle two different school philosophies. They can feel confident that their children are learning and growing in the same environment, from the same faculty and staff.
- Gender diversity enhances learning. Our Mission calls us to "prepare and inspire our students to think critically, act with compassion and integrity, and respond as servant leaders to the needs of a complex world." A coed environment inherently encourages diversity of thought and perspective. When young men and women express their intellectual and emotional reactions to course material together, the class is enriched. A single-sex classroom cannot reflect students’ futures in the same way.
- A coed curriculum de-emphasizes gender stereotypes. In a coed learning environment, young men and women learn to respect one another and cooperate as equals. This environment also helps reduce social stereotypes of what men or women can achieve. At Archbishop Hannan, we strive to make every student feel comfortable and confident in their abilities, their strengths, and their differences.
- Social development helps students grow into well-adjusted adults. Learning to manage relationships and interact with each other every day is an integral part of healthy social development. We believe that happens more easily in a coed environment. Knowledge and experience replace the potential for stereotyping. Just as fundamentals like reading and writing develop at a young age, a student’s social capacity develops during high school. These social skills prepare students for experiences they can expect in college, the workplace, adult relationships, and beyond. In a single-sex school, this development and maturity happens more slowly, or perhaps not much at all.
Ultimately, the choice of high school should come down to the school community that meets a student's educational, social, extracurricular, and formative needs. Our graduates – male and female – leave Archbishop Hannan High School equipped with the academic readiness and social skills necessary to achieve success in college and beyond.
Sources: ABC News, American Psychology Association, Arizona State University Sandford School of Social & Family Dynamics, American Council for Coeducational Learning, Dr. Lynn Liben; Penn State University, Science (journal)