If you haven’t already heard, I went to an all-girl high school.
Cue the fantasies of short skirts, pillow fights and ponytails.
Sadly, that’s a distant stretch from reality.
My time at an all-girls high school was challenging. I struggled with my appearance and sense of sense on a level that seemed far beyond the realm of typical teenage growing pains.
I hated high school, and I often thought the emotional strain would have been less severe if we had boys at our school. Maybe they would have muted some of the cattiness that dominated my daily existence.
Which is why I can’t immediately embrace an idea that recently made headlines: all-girl preschools.
I won’t argue with claims that single-sex classrooms boost test scores. My high school had a rigorous academic curriculum that laid the foundation for skills that dominate my career.
In our classrooms, nobody “played dumb” to impress guys. Every opinion was articulate, confident and well-researched.
We devoted our late-night hours to homework and studied even harder in the morning. Of course, that was another advantage of single-sex education: no boys to impress, and therefore no need to shower on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, life’s lessons exist beyond the classroom.
By attending an all-girl high school, I developed a certain social ineptitude -- treating men as rare endangered species and approaching women with the assumption they’d eventually become my social and academic rivals.
Academically, my high school was a perfect training ground. Socially, it was a microcosm that didn’t reflect some of the most important challenges we’d face upon entering the real world.
So I have some concerns about the potential rise of all-girl preschools.
Go ahead, put young women in an environment that encourages them to excel.
But if that environment is a classroom, give it a limited life span. Don’t make young women believe excellence is only possible within the confines of a “no boys allowed” clubhouse.
Am I racking up therapy bills a decade after graduating from high school? No.
I matured, befriended my former high school rivals on Facebook and watched my sister attend the same high school and love it.
I survived the pressure of an all-girl high school simply by looking ahead.
And though I sometimes complain about my experience, I’ve used that sense of survival to endure everything from personal setbacks to gender disparities in the workplace.
Maybe those pillow fights paid off after all.