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All Girls: Single-Sex Education and Why It Matters

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An account of a year in the lives of young women at two girls' schools, one an elite Los Angeles prep school and the other the Young Women's Leadership School in East Harlem, considers the challenges of single-sex education.


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An account of a year in the lives of young women at two girls' schools, one an elite Los Angeles prep school and the other the Young Women's Leadership School in East Harlem, considers the challenges of single-sex education.

30 review for All Girls: Single-Sex Education and Why It Matters

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carli

    All Girls is a thought-provoking, anecdotal book about single sex education. She follows teachers and students from different socio-economic backgrounds from opposite sides of America, with one common factor – they attend and teach at an all-girls’ school. This book has been lying on my shelf as a second-hand purchase that I never seemed to find the effort for, despite attracting me for two very obvious reasons: I am an alumnus of a single sex education and I am an educator. I decided to read th All Girls is a thought-provoking, anecdotal book about single sex education. She follows teachers and students from different socio-economic backgrounds from opposite sides of America, with one common factor – they attend and teach at an all-girls’ school. This book has been lying on my shelf as a second-hand purchase that I never seemed to find the effort for, despite attracting me for two very obvious reasons: I am an alumnus of a single sex education and I am an educator. I decided to read the books on my shelf before purchasing anything new and I am superbly grateful. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and found myself reading passages aloud to anyone willing to listen (and even those who were unwilling). It does not seek to preach, but rather paints a picture of what it is like to attend a girls’ school, a far cry from the finishing school of old and rather a much more academically competitive environment than is assumed. Simultaneously, you are drawn in by the girls’ journeys and want to find out what would happen to them. The book addresses some nuances of girls’ education that have been known for years but never truly stressed enough. As it was published in 2002, this is truly saddening. As an example, I was astonished to learn about the research on the development of adolescent female brains pertaining to mathematical ability. As an educator, I have been exposed to the notion of delayed development in reading ability amongst boys (compared to their female counterparts), but this was the first time I had read that the average adolescent girl only gains her full ability in visual-spatial reasoning at the age of 16/17. The question that the book raises is not about how these differences (and others) originate, but rather that they exist and need to be addressed immediately. This notion is thematic of the book –girls are disadvantaged in coeducation schools and immediate resolution is sought rather than a drawn out debate. The writer posits that single sex education might be a very good solution. The book only looks from the perspective of female single sex education and does touch on the political aspects involved, but for an overarching view the reader might be inspired to read different perspectives on the subject. It would be interesting to read a similar book on single sex education for boys, and possibly the way these ideas translate with our current move toward gender neutrality. It reminded me of the reasons I loved my own single sex high school experience. I feel inspired to read more on the topic.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    I wanted to read this book because I wanted to find out about what it is like to go to an all girls school. I once met a lady that had gone to an all girls college and she had this confidence about her and always put through her ideas and didn't really care what any one else thought and that's what I thought the girls school had given her because she probably did not have to compete with boys to share ideas in the classroom. Boys are usually the first with their hands up and sharing ideas in cla I wanted to read this book because I wanted to find out about what it is like to go to an all girls school. I once met a lady that had gone to an all girls college and she had this confidence about her and always put through her ideas and didn't really care what any one else thought and that's what I thought the girls school had given her because she probably did not have to compete with boys to share ideas in the classroom. Boys are usually the first with their hands up and sharing ideas in class so it leaves girls at a disadvantage because the guys are more vocal than girls in the class, so the girls got to be leaders in this book. It was not without a price though. In 1999, it cost $14,000 dollars for each of these girls per year in California to go to a the all girl school in the book. The other school in Harlem had it struggles but I really admired them trying in a difficult situation. The book is not what I though it would be, telling us the pros and cons of girls schools. The only time that came was at the last ten pages of the book. It did confirm from the girls what I thought that it gave them more confidence in who they were. I was disappointed there were not more studies about this and that the book was mostly a study of a year in two girls schools.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    How I Came To Read This Book: I borrowed it from Gillian, my sister. The Plot: Author Karen Stabiner, faced with the prospect of where to send her daughter in the future, was introduced to the idea of All Girls schools by a friend with a similar dilemma. Curious as to the potentially beneficial and / or detrimental effects of single sex education, Stabiner decided to really dig her heels into some serious background research by following two private schools - Marlborough, a private prep school in How I Came To Read This Book: I borrowed it from Gillian, my sister. The Plot: Author Karen Stabiner, faced with the prospect of where to send her daughter in the future, was introduced to the idea of All Girls schools by a friend with a similar dilemma. Curious as to the potentially beneficial and / or detrimental effects of single sex education, Stabiner decided to really dig her heels into some serious background research by following two private schools - Marlborough, a private prep school in California, and The Young Women's Leadership School of East Harlem (or TYWLS 'twills' as it's known), a public pilot project that lets disadvantaged girls access single sex education traditionally only available at expensive private schools. At Marlborough, Stabiner focuses on the seniors and their bids for college (i.e. how does attending this school pay off?) as well as the teachers, and pockets of younger students. At TYWLS, she focuses on the original pilot class as they entered their 9th grade year in danger of being shut down for lack of social reform. Mixed agendas for TYWLS - the principal wants it to be a school for intelligent girls that might slip through the cracks while the community wants it to be a school to fix problem girls and mould them into intelligent brainy ones - make for a tense scenario as the teaching situation continually shifts and the students show little progress, despite the advantages supposedly presented by such a school. In the end Stabiner follows everything up three years down the road - with the TYWLS girls graduating and the Marlborough seniors in their junior year of college. Oh and her daughter? Going to Marlborough, graduated by now I'll bet. The Good & The Bad: This was a surprisingly enjoyable nonfiction read. It worked better as a documentary style book than an actual analytical / insightful / investigative look at All Girls' schools. I felt like the anecdotes and rationales from the teachers probably served best to colour the book as an investigative piece, but that overall the students' stories and comments and the third party information wasn't so helpful. I don't think the book swayed me (or even attempted to sway me) one way or the other that All Girls schools 'mattered' as per the cover's caption. In fact TYWLS demonstrated to me that it's not about the environment necessarily, so much as the teachers in that school and the students that are committed to their education to team up and help those select students excel. I think the most interesting part of the book to me was following the Marlborough seniors and seeing that famed Americana dream of college (the Ivies!) come to life through the half dozen girls Stabiner focuses on. It almost made me want to go to a US college for grad school now, just to 'get in' and have that feeling. The follow-up portion of the book I felt was a hastily cobbled together attempt to justify All Girls schools as she asks each girl how they think their education affected them to this point - and even then she gets mixed feedback. Still, a decently interesting read, if perhaps for different reasons than what you'd expect. The Bottom Line: All Girls is all good, except for the whole proving why "they matter". Anything Memorable?: Just that two of my friends have *Recently* had random convos with me on All Girls schools and whether they are good or bad. 50-Book Challenge?: Book #50 in 2008 (!!!)

  4. 4 out of 5

    CarolynKost

    Stabiner switches back and forth between the first Young Women's Leadership School, a public charter school for young women of color and promise founded in Harlem in 1996, and the century-old Marlborough School in Los Angeles. The contrast is jarring: the teachers in the former are disaffected and transitory, the students challenged by life circumstances that pull at them to remain in the mire, while the teachers in the latter are creative and largely stable and the students are sophisticated an Stabiner switches back and forth between the first Young Women's Leadership School, a public charter school for young women of color and promise founded in Harlem in 1996, and the century-old Marlborough School in Los Angeles. The contrast is jarring: the teachers in the former are disaffected and transitory, the students challenged by life circumstances that pull at them to remain in the mire, while the teachers in the latter are creative and largely stable and the students are sophisticated and coddled. Relying on warm and fuzzy anecdotes about how affirming the experiences are that these two schools offer, this book fails to make a clear case for single sex education. There are a handful of points gathered here from Deak (Girls Will Be Girls), Sadker (Failing At Fairness), and the initial AAUW report that make the case for single-sex education for girls, but all in all, this is better read as a dated journalistic account of urban poverty and privilege in the 1990s. (In the 2010s, that divide has only widened). Better to look elsewhere for solid data if that is what the reader seeks.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This is a medium-old book, based on the school year of 1998/8, and published in 2002. The author follows students from two all-girl schools, a rich school in LA and a public school in poor NYC, and ultimately decides to send her daughter to the LA school. The author uses a lot of pages to tell the students' and teachers' stories, but it's not a scientific book at all: there aren't a lot of numbers to give any reference to how good or poorly the students are doing. She's missing a lot of informat This is a medium-old book, based on the school year of 1998/8, and published in 2002. The author follows students from two all-girl schools, a rich school in LA and a public school in poor NYC, and ultimately decides to send her daughter to the LA school. The author uses a lot of pages to tell the students' and teachers' stories, but it's not a scientific book at all: there aren't a lot of numbers to give any reference to how good or poorly the students are doing. She's missing a lot of information here as she doesn't compare how students do in similar co-ed school and she doesn't look at other country's educations systems. The obvious bias of the author makes this one only worth a read if you are directly interested in how girls and teachers feel about single-sex education. [I am rereading my old books and reviewing them as an adult.]

  6. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne

    As a mother of a very intelligent little girl, I am interested in giving her all the opportunities I can to get the very best education. I firmly believe my sister and good friend received much better high school educations than myself. They attended an all-girls school whereas I attended a co-ed school. Overall, the book was very interesting. It was more of a documentary/narrative style than argumentative for going to an all-girls school. The author basically referenced a study done in the earl As a mother of a very intelligent little girl, I am interested in giving her all the opportunities I can to get the very best education. I firmly believe my sister and good friend received much better high school educations than myself. They attended an all-girls school whereas I attended a co-ed school. Overall, the book was very interesting. It was more of a documentary/narrative style than argumentative for going to an all-girls school. The author basically referenced a study done in the early 1990s and assumed her readers would read that study and be convinced. I thought the stress the California school girls put themselves through for college was amazing.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bree

    Read quickly and kept me interested. But I wanted more data. I went to an all girls' school and I believe that they're a good idea, but I don't think Stabiner was really convincing in her case that single-sex education is beneficial for girls.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Paige

    If you are interested in single-sex education for girls, this book was a great read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anyu

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

  11. 5 out of 5

    Teddi

  12. 4 out of 5

    Xenia Sebastian

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paige Nesbitt

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brigid Grogan

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mary Alice

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alison (AlisonCanRead)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Allison Boothe

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kai

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

  21. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Bisher-Fry

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rachael Hope

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Federico

  26. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paige

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mimi

  29. 5 out of 5

    Victor H. Nuila

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alex

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