‘Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom.’ As parents, we want to give our children the best of everything we possibly can, including their schooling. The debate on single sex school versus coed school is quite a trending topic for many parents. As per researches and studies, they both have their own pros and cons, although it can still be a Herculean task for parents to figure out whether to send their child to a single-sex school or a coed school. But what is this debate anyway, and why are we debating over coed versus single sex education after all?
Education And The Eternal Tug Of War
While everyone agrees that education is essential for the growth of every child, there is still a lot of room remains for nuance, and this is where this debate enters the picture. Our styles of education and our children’s education experience are highly subjective, cultural, gendered and intersectional. Our unique narratives passed on to our children, and that is where different education patterns bring about various aspects of our child’s personality.
Also read: Schooling is essential for everyone as it aids in shaping the future generation, but how can we prepare our children for school?
The research available on this subject is also very diverse. Some research points out that girls might benefit from single sex education, and single-sex schools might give impetus to women’s education. At the same time, other research suggests that co-education might be more beneficial for boys. However, as we try to build more inclusive spaces for people’s lived experiences, we understand that there is no clear cut solution to this debate, and most of it is a matter of choice. However, it might be a good idea to explore some advantages and disadvantages of single sex education.
7 Advantages of Single-Sex Education
Single-sex/ single-gender schools refer to schools where all students identify with one said gender. Therefore, we have schools for students identifying as female and schools for students identifying as male. This model of education certainly have benefits, and they are as follows :
1. Greater Sense of Equality
When every student of a particular school identifies or aligns with given gender identity, it allows them to have a levelled ground to start with. This is especially true for an all-girls school that allows female students to work and excel at all subjects equally. In a coed school, the inherent gender biases might be projected onto the students. Therefore, in a single-gender classroom, a student can feel more confident in excelling at all kinds of work without attributing any gender roles to it.
2. Greater Sense of Belonging
Students who go to single gender schools might feel a sense of greater belonging and understanding in their school. Our society is heavily gendered, and therefore, single gender schools create an environment where the lived experiences of the said gender can be honored; also a safe space can be designed to discuss these experiences.
3. Bringing More Opportunities
Malala Yousufzai’s story reminds us every day how far we are in terms of equal education. Women’s education and the education of marginalized communities is still a prevalent issue among many countries of the world. Single-gender schools open up more spaces for these communities to access education and allow people to get exposure to more significant opportunities for a better life.
4. Building Meaningful Same Gender Friendships
At a single gender school, students spend years with people identifying with the same gender as they do. This fosters a sense of cooperation, team spirit and respect among them. It gives them a strong safety net of meaningful friendships and allows them to build their own brotherhoods or sisterhoods.
Also read: Why do women need their girlfriends? Female understanding has its own charm; the advantages of being the same gender are pretty obvious; we can share and express ourselves in a better way and can stick together to solve any problem.
5. Breaks Gender Stereotypes
Drama, dance and arts are traditionally considered more feminine, while sports, math and physics are usually considered more masculine. However, there is no stand for this narrative in a single gender school. This education model allows students to develop a complete and comprehensive personality, along with their unique skill sets, before they are even exposed to gender roles. This allows us to break the long-standing gendered stereotypes and brings a much needed inclusive attitude.
6. Tailored Curriculum
A single gender school can tailor its curriculum according to the needs of the said gender. This allows the teachers to take the liberty of sharing more relatable experiences of a specific gender and, therefore, making the curriculum more practical for the students.
7. Acknowledges Diversity
Even in one particular gender, there exists diversity. A single gender school allows the time and the space to reflect and engage with that diversity, thereby celebrating it.
But, like every coin, there is a flip side to this too.
5 Disadvantages of Single-Sex Education
1. Does Not Simulate The Real World
Perhaps the most debated disadvantage of single-gender education is that it does not simulate the real world. We simply can’t divide the world into males and females. Critics of the single sex education model believe it makes the students averse to real-world experience.
2. Can be Non–Inclusive
It is important to realize that gender is not binary. Therefore, when speaking of single gender schools, there can be limitations and discriminations against people who identify as trans or non–binary. It can be highly traumatizing for students from marginalized communities, and this is a big issue that needs to be addressed at the management levels of schools.
3. Can be Stereotypical
Single sex schools can be incredibly liberating, but they can also be highly restrictive. If students are indoctrinated into specific gender roles by the same schools that have the power to break stereotypes, we are setting ourselves up for a more unequal society.
4. Can be Restrictive
Single-gender schools do not give students the opportunity to mingle with the opposite gender. This limits their access and can cause social adjustment issues later in life.
Some students form better friendships with students from the other gender, and a single-gender school does not allow them to do so. Some students from single gender schools feel like they have ‘missed out’ on certain experiences because of the structure of their education.
So, What’s The Final Verdict?
Single sex vs coeducation is a debate that has been going on for years. There are advantages and disadvantages to both systems of education. But here’s the thing. It is not the education model that is important, but the teachers, educators and curators of the model that make or break a student’s quality of education. Schools form the very basis and foundation of a student’s life. It is the teacher that is the decisive element in the classroom. Our educators hold the power to decide whether a child will be humanized or dehumanized. Any model can be equally beneficial, equally helpful, and equally effective if educators and parents collectively raise inclusive, aware and empathetic children in a safe, inclusive and flourishing environment.
Therefore, there can never be a clear answer that applies to all in this ever raging debate. What needs to be reconnoiter is how a method of education best suits a child’s needs and how can we as parents make the most of whatever system we finally end up choosing because a model is a choice; education is not!