Co-educational vs single sex schools

The ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, said that Co-education creates a feeling of comradeship. He advocated teaching of both the male and female sexes in the same institution without showing any discrimination in imparting education.

‘A strong reason for co-education is that separating children for a number of years means they will not be mixing and learning about each other.’ – Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the University of Cambridge and Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge.

‘There are no overriding advantages for single-sex schools on educational grounds. Studies all over the world have failed to detect any major differences.’ – Professor Alan Smithers, director of education and employment research at the University of Buckingham.

‘Boys’ boorishness is tamed by the civilising influence of the girls; girls’ cattiness is tamed by the more relaxed approach of the boys. It’s a win-win situation.’

Secondary schools like Howick College believe that co-educational learning environments develop understanding between boys and girls in a natural and unforced environment.  By virtue of working on the same projects, playing the same sports and participating in the same extra curricular activities a healthy camaraderie is formed by all students at the school.

Co-educational schools provide a strong and realistic platform that equips students to deal with the day to day encounters they will have in their lives post-high school.  It helps challenge preconceptions of the opposite sex that both boys and girls face and explores the different perspective that both sexes have about life.  In doing so students learn that they can still be equal with differing viewpoints.  NZ has always been a pioneer in this area, and was the first country in the world that gave women the right to vote.  It was also the first country in the world in which the top three positions were all held by women simultaneously (the Prime minister, Governor General and Chief Justice).  As women worldwide start breaking the glass ceiling it is important that girls learn that they can achieve any position in society that they set out to, and boys learn that it’s okay for girls to hold those positions if they are best qualified to do so.

While advocates of single-sex schools claim that students perform better in single sex schools and sometimes even point to statistical disparities the fact is that such differences are more to do with the socio-economic background of the students and the selectivity of their intake and internal controls that dictate who can sit what exams.  It is generally believed that a more holistic education can be achieved at co-educational schools.

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