At Hawken, we take seriously our purpose of “forward-focused preparation for the real world through the development of character and intellect.” That is why Hawken made a deliberate decision to become coeducational in 1973 after almost 60 years as an all-boys school. Gender roles had become re-defined, and the old model of isolating the sexes simply did not align with our mission. Moreover, Hawken’s ongoing work in diversity, social equity, inclusion, and justice also supports our commitment to trans and non-binary students as well.
Current research affirms our choice to become a coeducational school. As the article The Pseudoscience of Single-Sex Schooling suggests, separating students by gender can lead to prejudicial views, stereotyping, and inequality. Integration, on the other hand, has been shown to help overcome stereotyping and misconceptions. This is why gender integration is important as early as the formative, primary years, where attitudes and perception are being shaped and formed. When students of different genders work collaboratively in a stimulating educational environment, they come to understand in a deep way that gender classification defies simple stereotypes and prejudices.
Moreover, brain research on how children learn indicates that there is no distinct advantage to segregating boys and girls in the teaching and learning process. It has been documented that not only cognitive but also social skills are enriched by interaction between the genders, because boys and girls learn from each other. At Hawken, boys and girls learn to work side by side in a safe environment. Here they can practice and test their skills under the guidance of expert teachers, who show them that success and confidence in any subject is attainable through hard work, effort, and collaboration. They come to appreciate both differences and similarities in each other’s perspectives, approaches, and responses. This integrated interaction promotes heightened engagement, meaningful discussion and debate, and exposure to alternative methods of problem solving.
The best way to prepare students for the real world is to create a microcosm of that world so that they can develop the skills, competencies, and confidence that will enable them to thrive. At Hawken, we believe that the best outcomes for every aspect of life - academic, social, interpersonal, and professional - are the result of a coeducational environment that enriches students’ intellectual, social, and personal growth, giving them an advantage not only during their school years but in college and throughout their lives.