My parents moved me to an all girls learning environment for high school because, in part, they could see that I was going to be very distracted by boys. I was still distracted – but maybe less so. Maybe I was mostly distracted on the weekends. Oh, those distracting weekends!
This article, in a very cursory way, is looking at single v. coed education in terms of required sex education of kids and the benefits of delayed sex ed. While there is much debate over the benefits of single-sex v. coed education more generally, at the end of the day, I think different people require different things to succeed.
There are a couple of things offered in this article that I disagree with or think are presented far too simply.
First, protecting innocence is not the job of schools, nor should it be. The whole idea that kids are ‘innocent’, really gets my knickers in a knot. People aren’t innocent until some magic moment. We need to learn along the way. I wrote about that recently here.
Next, helping young people avoid ‘tensions’ is also not the job of a school. These so called ‘tensions’ are a fact of life and learning about them, and figuring out how we manage ourselves through them, offer opportunities to become better and more self-actualized people. Prolonging the experience of that tension doesn’t make a person’s life easier or better. It may make the experience for teachers easier or better though. So, that’s something.
Finally, just because I went to a girls school didn’t mean I wasn’t needing comprehensive sex education. Regardless of who we are in class with, we live in a world with lots of diverse and competing messages and young people need support navigating this complexity. Putting it off doesn’t do our kids any favours.
Educational environments ought to be helping young people understand human sexual development, relationships and communication no matter what. Overwhelmingly, schools (and educational bureaucracies) are not doing enough to educate young people on these topics. Whether it’s a single sex or coed environment, the real question is how can each of these types of schools leverage their circumstances to raise sex smart, sex savvy and (eventually) sex satisfied kids?