- 10 years ago
- Wedding: January 2013
If you take every word in Selene’s post and switch her uses of “public school” and “private religious school”, that was my experience. I spent all of my life in Catholic school and was miserable throughout high school (and by that I mean ostracized, severely depressed, and on anti-depressants). For a long time I was convinced that Catholic school was the problem, and by junior year of HS convinced my parents to let me try public school. A week in I was even more miserable than in private school. We were learning things in advanced-level courses that I’d been taught in the middle of my intro classes at private school and it was far more clique-y and socially stratified than my private school. Additionally, having to pick out a new outfit every day knowing I’d be judged on it was a huge source of stress after having worn school-issued uniforms (even socks and shoes were regulated) my entire life. So I went back to Catholic school. I wasn’t happy, really, but I was getting a better education and found the social environment a lot more sufferable.
Fiance went to an all-boys’ Jesuit high school in NYC with a great academic reputation. He got a phenomenal education and socially had a much easier time socially than he did in his coed elementary and middle schools. He wouldn’t hesitate to send a son there, but I’m still a little wary about single-sex schools. I see both sides of the coin. They can be empowering and erase the tensions of coed environments, but then, I can’t believe that something important isn’t lost when the experiences and viewpoints of one sex is removed from a school, but in the classroom and socially. I think that it would be significantly less a problem however, in a diverse city like New York where everyone is constantly forced to interact, at least superficially, with people of every gender, age, race, etc, or at a school with a sister/brother school (what I have in mind would be a high school set up like Bryn Mawr and Haverford colleges in PA were until a few decades ago when Haverford went coed–they’re a few minutes away from each other and have a strong consortium, with students visiting their sister/brother school constantly for social events and classes).
Ultimately, Fiance and I will send our child(ren) to the school that will provide them with the best academic experience, because we believe that is what is most important. High school is a tough time for everyone regardless of your socio-economic status, what talents and flaws you possess, and so on. Fiance was miserable in grade school and I was miserable every year of school before I got to college, but it didn’t kill us in the end. What is important is that we got good educations that allowed us to excel later in life. If a public school will provide the best education for our child wherever we’re living, then we’ll send them there. But we know private schools can offer a lot that many public schools unfortunately cannot and if they are the best option, we will send our child there. A single-sex school will not be a deal-breaker, but we’ll be sure to visit the school and take account of its environment and the opportunities our child will have to interact with members of the opposite sex outside of school. Although both of us very consciously left the Catholic church after high school, I would hesitate very little to send my child to a Catholic or other religious school if it provided the best overall academic experience because I know we will raise an intelligent child who will learn to ask questions and make up its mind after considering all the facts presented. Despite being an agnostic/atheist now and someone who questioned Catholic teaching since at least sixth grade, I was always very happy to learn what they taught us in our mandatory religion course. It was extremely valuable to learn the doctrines of a religion inside and out and not just have some half-way understanding of why a religion believes and enforces what it does. You can’t argue about faith if you don’t understand it at all! This experience has benefited me in so many ways and in so many circumstances that I can’t imagine being without it.