Co-Education Pros and Cons
Scholars and thinkers all over the world have been speaking in favor and against the concept of education that allows boys and girls to sit together in the same place and taught by the same teacher. People on both sides of divide are not short of arguments; a thinker strongly emphasizes this point in favor of cEducatioEducationo-education and another scholar negates the same point with more energy. The feminist movement strongly supported equality of men and women, so supported, in a way, co-education schools, while some other scholars are speaking vehemently in favor of separate-sex schools on the basis of biological, psychological and social differences between the two sexes. This is an interesting debate as no side is short of arsenal. Let us discuss the both sides in detail.
The supporters of single-sex education vouchsafed that there are basic difference in the biological and psychological makeup of male and female children. They believe that these differences are so basic that co-education will strongly hinder the learning abilities of both sexes. This group of scholars believe that in order to have good education of boys and girls it is necessary that they should be taught in separate schools. One of the prominent thinkers of this group is Leonard Sax who is of the view that, “ Leonard Sax represents the essential-difference view, arguing that boys and girls should be educated separately for reasons of biology: for example, Sax asserts that boys don’t hear as well as girls, which means that an instructor needs to speak louder in order for the boys in the room to hear her; and that boys’ visual systems are better at seeing action, while girls are better at seeing the nuance of color and texture.
The opposing group is not ready to consider this point as palatable. They believe that segregation of students into different schools on the basis of a belief that boys and girls have biological and psychological differences is not a firm and scientifically proved thesis. They even cite law of the land to prove their assertions. For instance, it is discussed in the article “Teaching Boys and girls Separately ”By Elizabeth Weil, A.C.L.U strongly denounced this belief. “A lawyer at the A.C.L.U.’s Women’s Rights Project why, she said, “Have you ever heard of Title IX?” referring to the 1972 Education Amendments that outlaw all discrimination in educational programs on the basis of sex”. In the same article it is also said that Rosemary Salomone, a legal scholar at St. John’s University School of Law says that, “Every time I hear of school officials selling single-sex programs to parents based on brain research, my heart sinks.” Likewise Michael Younger of Cambridge University denounced Dr. Sax in these words, “Dr. Sax is trying to tell us that boys draw action and girls draw stasis. He might as well have said: ‘Boys are active, girls are passive. Boys should go out and have jobs, girls should stay home and have babies.’
The supporters of the single-sex education believe that the social needs and social experiences demands that boys and girls should be educated separately. They believe that this way both sexes are able to develop a healthy and strong personality that is not possible in co-education schools. Elizabeth Weil in “Teaching Boys and Girls Separately” tells us “The social view is represented by teachers like Emily Wylie, who works at the Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem (T.Y.W.L.S.), an all-girls school for Grades 7-12. Wylie described her job to me by saying, “It’s my subversive mission to create all these strong girls who will then go out into the world and be astonished when people try to oppress them.” The group of people supporting separate-gender education believes that, as boys and girls are to enter, in future, in separate strata of life so they should be prepared accordingly in advance. They are not ready to believe that the contention of the supporters of coeducation that feminine mind gains from association with boys, and the masculine from association with girls. That this way character develops more rapidly and shyness diminishes.
The supporters of single-gender education schools are of the view that if boys and girls should be taught separately it will help in a healthy intellectual and moral development. There will be less disorder in the classes and an education friendly environment will be created which is not possible otherwise. “Teaching Boys and girls Separately ”By Elizabeth Weil states that, “Principal Mansell reports that her single-sex classes produce fewer discipline problems, more parental support and better scores in writing, reading and math”. Then Dr. Sax relates an example to prove his point of view that, “ In 2000, one of his (Dr.Sax) patients, a 12-year-old boy, came to his medical office. For several years before then, the boy had been withdrawn, uninspired and on multiple medications, but he had recently made a big turnaround, which his parents credited to having enrolled him in an all-boys school.” The boy’s mother believes that this happen just because of the boy’s being shifted to the separate-gender schools.
In another way it is not convenient for the two sexes to be educated together. Many subjects are necessary for one sex that is not suitable for the other. Some subjects cannot be taught in the presence of both sexes without embarrassment on the part of teacher and class. Coeducation tends to diminish the chivalry that is largely the product of early separate education. In the article “Teaching Boys and Girls Separately” Elizabeth Weil discusses in this way, “Wylie says she believes she is a better teacher, and her students are better students, because they’re in a desexualized — or at least less-sexualized — environment.” She also said that “But I think I’m giving girls a better education than I could have if there were guys in the room. I’m freer. I’m more able to be bold in my statements. When I teach poetry and I talk about the sex in poetry I don’t need to be worried about the boy in the room who is going to chuckle over the thing he did with the girl last week and embarrass her. Which happened more than once in my last coed environment.”
The supporters of co-education are of the view that the presence of both sexes together is a wholesome factor in institutions. In all communities, they believe, where one sex is segregated, e.g., schools, colleges, monasteries, Convents, etc, various evils flourish. Women tend to become hysterical, men to acquire unnatural vices, the whole atmosphere is morbid. In colleges and universities the presence of women raises the general tone both ethically and academically.
They also say that the marriages made after coeducational experience are best. If the man and woman have known each other as fellow-students, a surer basis is given for married life than that gained from purely social acquaintance. If they have moved among others of the opposite sex on equal terms, each will have a better appreciation of the qualities and make a fairer judgment of the short-comings of the other.
In opposition to this point it is stated by the supporters of the separate education institutions for boys and girls that institutions are places where one goes to get itself taught in intellectual disciplines not to get experiments and learning in the opposite sex’s thinking patterns and romantic behaviors. It can also be stated that so much familiarity of the two sexes, which is obtained by studying at the same place, may spoil the charm of romance. When a person sees too much of the person belonging to the other sex the attraction wanes.
To sum up, we find that the supporters of the separation of education for boys and girls have made a very strong case. They support their point of view by saying and proving that there are basic differences in the psychological and biological makeup of boys and girls. Thus if there are such basic learning differences between the two sexes how can it be expected that by getting lectures while sitting at the same place boys and girls will learn and gain equally. They also say that the social needs and social experiences demands that boys and girls should be educated separately. It is the belief of this group of people that by making students of different genders study at different places a healthy intellectual and moral development of the two will take place that is not possible in coeducation institutions. They say that it is a point of common observance that there are many subjects that cannot be taught to boys and girls sitting together without causing embarrassment to the teacher and the students.