What the Research Says
The Linden School’s approach to education is grounded in current research on girls’ learning at every age and each stage of development. Our small classes allow teachers to address the unique needs of each student. Research supports what we know from experience: girls thrive in single-sex environments that respect diversity and foster self-efficacy. A study recently released by UCLA found that girls who attend single-sex schools show more academic engagement, higher academic self-confidence – especially in math and computer sciences – and greater political and co-curricular involvement. This study, which surveyed over 20,000 young women, is the largest of its kind. (Visit the website of the National Coalition of Girls’ School for more details.)
A girls’ school, though, should not just be about separating the girls from the boys. A great girls’ school puts evidence into practice to help girls learn better. This idea is central to Linden’s mission, guiding everything from our teaching approach to our co-curricular activities. So what does the research say?
Observational research has been very important in helping us understand how girls learn best. More than ever before, today’s girls and young women are successful, driven, and educated, outnumbering boys in college and graduate school. However, teacher and author Rachel Simmons states in her recent book, The Curse of the Good Girl, that girls continue to feel pressure to be perfect and selfless, preventing them from being upfront about their needs. Simmons’ book is based on her work with girls and their parents at the Girls Leadership Institute. Her findings, along with those of many other studies, indicate that a real risk for girls is the development of “learned helplessness,” where they believe there is little they can do to advocate for themselves. At Linden, we work to counter the phenomenon of learned helplessness. We know that students find self-confidence when they are able to feel competent (not perfect) in the things they do. We offer many opportunities for girls to experience success, whether in academics, co-curricular activities or leadership initiatives, and we teach in ways that make space for a variety of learning styles. We also know that self-confidence comes when students reach outside themselves and connect with their world — so we encourage and model collaboration both inside and outside the classroom.
Much-Needed Leadership to Make the World a Better Place
According to Dr. Lyn Mikel Brown, Professor of Education at Colby College, one of the most important roles all-girls schools play is in "raising girls’ voices and fully engaging them in public and political life." Her blog Girls’ Schools, Girls’ Studies, and the Power to Create the World We Want provides insights into how "along with greater academic involvement, higher confidence in math ability, and stronger interest in STEM fields, girls’ schools foster higher rates of political engagement and social activism."
This is why Linden teachers encourage girls to develop their own capacity for leadership by helping them see how their academic skills can help solve social issues. Our Annual Social Justice Data Fair allows students to study issues they are concerned about by using their data management skills, such as learning about forces and mechanical advantage while designing land-mine detectors. It also showcases our interdisciplinary approach to teaching math, science, and humanities while including topics of social justice within the curriculum.
Linden's Teaching Experts
As specialists in girl-centred learning and feminist pedagogy, our teachers frequently share their expertise in the media and at national and international educational conferences.
In April 2017, The Linden School held Toronto's first-ever conference on Teaching for Justice. Co-conceived and developed by Beth Alexander, Linden teacher, and Michelle Munk, City View Alternative, TDSB teacher (who formerly taught at Linden), the event included a variety of offerings from academics and teachers around the city.
Linden faculty have also recently presented their work at the Ontario Association of Math Educators Annual Conference, the Science Teachers’ Association of Ontario Conference, and Southern Connecticut State University’s Annual Women’s Studies Conference.
Linden faculty have also served as experts at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), consulted on Ontario-wide educational boards such as the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario (ECOO), and been invited speakers in classes ranging from high school Gender Studies to international post-graduate Philosophy of Education courses.