• Adam Anderson

All-Boys Schools: Awkward Teens Punching Each Other

Updated: Feb 16

When I was a teenager, being chased across school fields to be punched repeatedly in the face was the norm. It wasn’t always me that received the beating. Often it was the kids that were even less sporty than I am. You wouldn’t think that’s possible, but trust me, there were some. What made things worse was that this Neanderthalic violence was overlooked by the teachers. One particularly gormless deputy-head actually walked past a fist fight, bottom lip stuck out, so he could moan at someone for littering. The reason for this laissez faire attitude? ‘Well, boys will be boys!’


The aim of single-sex schools is to improve students’ grades. Supposedly, with no girls to impress, boys will behave better. It’s a pretty solid argument, with a lot of examples to back it up. As soon as a girl climbs into a boy’s car, said boy instantly transforms from a cub scout into an orangutan that forgets where the brake pedal is. But, what these education ‘experts’ fail to realise is that having a school full of boys doesn’t stop bad behaviour. It just makes it less noticeable.


With a mix of boys and girls, half the spotty teens in the room will be punching each other, and the other half will be rolling their mascaraed eyes. Chances are, it’ll be easy to notice the ones punching. Get rid of the girls, and the room turns into a vortex of squeaky broken voices and sexually frustrated testosterone. Now they’ll all be punching. Literally all of them. Which means you’ll stop caring.


Unfortunately, I was also subject to another side-effect of all-boys schools. With no girls around to tell me what a loser I was, I sunk deeper and deeper into the nerdy cesspit I’d created for myself. Sports? Nope. Dressing well? Good one. Spend all my time either playing or talking about video games? Abso-f***ing-lutely.


When I finally lifted myself from a throne of crisp packets and emerged from my smelly cave at the age of sixteen, I didn’t know what to do with myself. How do you talk to someone without calling them a bender? You could say you’d slept with their mum, but that didn’t seem much better. Punch them? Is that still allowed?


As far as grades went, I can’t say I did the best. I got enough to claw myself into 6th Form, then enough to scrape my way into university. One grade lower on that medieval political history exam, and I’d have been one of those ‘community college’ types.


Now, I’m not saying my school experience was all bad. I’ve made genuine life-long friends from that sausage-fest. Ones where we can cut contact for a year, then go for a pint as though we were never apart. If I’d have gone to a mixed school, and perhaps developed slightly better social skills, I’d have never met the losers that I’m now proud to call my chums. If we’re being honest, even with girls around, I’d still be awkward anyway. Possibly more so. There’s a good chance that being placed in an all-boys school was a cosmic act of mercy.


All-boys schools aren’t a bad thing. They just don’t really work. Bad behaviour happens in any school, mixed-sex or not. So, when picking a school for your child, remember this. Whatever you go with, they’ll be okay. Trust me, they will. They’ll make friends, and pass their exams, and all the rest of it. The only real choice you’re making is how often you’d like them to be punched in the face.


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