In Democracy and Education Dewey presents his views regarding the three functions of education. He gives the main function of education, these being: (1) Education should simplify and order the factors of the dispositions it wants to develop, (2) Education should purify and idealize existing social customs, and (3) Education should create a wider and better balanced environment which will influence the young (Dewey 37).
He notes that these stand as a requirement for enabling the development of a progressive and democratic society wherein he defines a progressive society as one in which “individual variations are considered precious… (thereby) allowing for intellectual freedom and the play of diverse gifts and interests in its educational measure” (Dewey 451). Dewey’s views thereby relate the importance of the experience within educational institutions to that of ensuring democracy within a particular community.
Since the foundations of democracy are that of liberty and equality, Dewey places emphasis on the necessity of ensuring that intellectual freedom may be practiced within the context of an institution that allows diversity. Within educational systems, an example of this can be seen in the practice of coeducation. As opposed to this view, however, Link Byfield, in his article “If Girls Can Succeed Only at the Expense of Boys, Maybe We Need Segregated Schools” claims that the implementation of coeducational systems leads to the development of sexism within the system which proves detrimental to the non-privileged sex.
In line with this, the tasks of this paper are the following: (1) It seeks to present the views presented by Byfield in his article above and (2) It aims to present an analysis of his argument in line with how coeducation has helped in the presentation of more views in the different subjects within the educational institution and how these views enable the expansion of the educational process.
Byfield (2008) argues that increase in the scores of high school girls in the School Achievement Indicators Program (SAIP) in Canada shows that there is ‘regress’ in the educational system. The bases for his claim are the following. He claims that low proficiency of high school boys in language skills and low number of high school boys who have graduated within the time-frame of the survey. He thereby opposes the view presented by the SAIP that school systems within favor the members of both sexes. The bases for SAIP’s conclusion are the following views.
First, “high school girls on average are matching boys in the technology related subjects of math and science, and are far ahead in language skills” and second the ratio of the number of graduates shows that more girls are graduating as opposed to boys. In line with this, Byfield notes, given that a change in the system [from male-oriented to female-oriented] led to the ‘regress’ in the educational achievement of male students, the author argues that it is necessary to segregate students in terms of sex.
The basis for his claim is the view that sexism continues to be practiced within educational institutions. He notes that this is apparent in the shift of power from the boys to the girls. He says, “Now girls seem to run everything… the boys’ just tune out”. In addition to this, he says that the adaptation of a segregated system will allow the individual to be socialized in a natural environment which will allow him to be prepared for the ‘real life’.
He further argues that this will not “offend the ‘social imperative’” in the sense that it will create a society “driven by misunderstanding, ignorance, selfishness, and distrust”, on the other hand, such a setting will free the individual from an environment characterized by “moshpits of vulgarity where youth is free to run itself according to the values it has absorbed from MachMusic and 12 years of automatic passing and parent-free sex instruction”.