Why Boys’ Schools Succeed for Many Boys

THERE is irrefutable evidence that boys and girls respond to the world differently, they require different approaches to help them grow, says Matthew Hutchison, headmaster of Marist College Canberra, a Catholic school for boys from Years 4 to 12.

“When comparing the average boy to the average girl, the gender differences in the area of language, emotions, impulse control and sensory reaction are due to differences in brain structure and its rate of development,” he says.

“Additionally, gender differences in cognitive skills such as verbal fluency, reading, spatial skills and learning styles most certainly are the result of changes to the brain, which are shaped by environmental influences of family, school and society.

“As the body of research grows supporting the notion of cognitive gender differences, so do the strategies for helping students learn in ways that best suit their ability. Research would further suggest that those strategies work best in a single-sex environment.”

Mr Hutchison says this has vast implications for learning, teaching and emotional development and reaffirms his belief that boys’ schools succeed for many boys.

“Despite such evidence, the role of single-sex schools in the present educational climate remains hotly debated,” he says.

Mr Hutchison, who is in his second year of leading Marist College Canberra (MCC) after eight years as head of school at Sydney’s St Augustine’s College, says: “We know boys need a safe, supportive and connected place where they can develop the skills to become confident and competent men.

“We believe at MCC that this happens best in an environment that gives boys the support to explore a variety of masculinities and avenues of endeavour without the limitations placed on tradition.

“MCC provides a place where students can learn in ways that match their capabilities, develop skills in communication with many different people, explore a wide variety of opportunities without limitation and discover what sort of man they will become.

“At MCC, the entire school community is organised programmatically and culturally, specifically in response to boys’ needs and potential. We seek to make our single-sex culture work for the good of the men these boys will become and together, we proudly create fine young men.”

Original article published in City News.

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