Should Schools Be Divided Along Gender Lines?

My high school was a fairly typical Australian public high school. One of the reasons why it was a typical school is because it was attended by an equal number of male and female students. Throughout my school education, it was normal for me to share a classroom with students of both genders. In this essay, I will discuss the pros and cons of this situation.

Firstly, an obvious positive of having male and female students attend school together is that it facilitates a feeling of mutual respect for one another. In contrast, students who attend single gender schools may grow accustomed to this being a normal situation, and struggle to interact with members of the opposite gender at university or in the workplace.

Secondly, on the other hand, the presence of classmates of the opposite gender in the same school could be a distraction for some students. This isn’t exactly surprising, given that high school students are entering their teenage years, which is a period of growth and development. In the case of students who are susceptible to becoming distracted from their studies, attending a single gender school might be a better option.

Thirdly, single gender schools may provide a safer environment for certain students, especially those who are shy by nature. It is an unfortunate reality that bullying sometimes occurs in educational contexts, and the conditions that produce such behavior may be heightened in co-ed schools. At the same time, we should be careful about rushing to make this judgment because it is sometimes the case that bullying within single gender schools is even more destructive than it is in co-ed schools. This may be a function of the relationships between members of the same gender being of a different nature than those between members of opposite genders.

Fourthly, single gender schools may allow students greater freedom to explore extracurricular activities, because they tend to have a stronger tradition associated with those activities. For example, many single gender schools have proud sporting traditions in individual and team sports, and being involved in such activities may allow some students to flourish outside of the classroom.

Finally, we shouldn’t neglect the impact of co-ed and single gender schools from the viewpoint of teachers. Each teacher has a different personality and a teaching style that may be more amenable to working at a co-ed or single gender school, respectively. The very existence of this distinction is a positive from an educational standpoint, because it gives the educational system more options to find the best possible match for each teacher and situation.

In summary, there are a number of points both for and against co-ed and single gender schools. None of these points favor one or the other in any straightforward manner. Indeed, for every point that could be made in one side’s favor, a counter-argument could be made on the other side. We need to consider the differences between individual students, schools and situations, instead of making blanket recommendations one way or the other.

Ming




Vocabulary

facilitate (verb) – to make it possible or easier for something to happen
susceptible (adjective) – easily influenced or affected by something
flourish (verb) – to be very successful
amenable (adjective) – capable of being dealt with or treated in a particular way

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