The History and Concept of Single Sex Education and Co Education

There has been a long standing debate as to which of the two methods of education is the most suitable. There has however been no concrete evidence which demonstrates the superiority of one practice over the other. For definition purposes, single sex education refers to the practice of educating boys separately from the girls. This means that in the respective learning institutions, boys are not taught in the same environment with the girls. In such cases, you get to find that girls and boys are not freely able to mingle as such institutions only provide education services for either gender, in such situations, boys and girls learn in different environments where they are taught the same content but in different set ups and by different teachers as well.

Coed education on the other hand is the practice of education which is a synonym of mixed learning as defined by (Gill, p. 78). It is the direct opposite of single sex education. Coed education is the process whereby the girls and boys are taught in a common learning environment.

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This sort of mixed learning provides an opportunity for the girls to freely mingle with their male counterparts as they get to share the learning facilities as well as facilitators who in this case are the teachers.

Historically, there has been what the feminists termed as education segregation. This is the term which was given to the unfair treatment of girls as far as education was concerned. Prior to the entry of formal education in our way of life, learning was largely informal.

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This meant that boys and girls would get educated but this type of education was what could be considered as informal. It is quite important to highlight that as much as both boys and girls would access this form of education; the education process itself was what is today referred to as single sex education where boys would be taught important virtues and values separately from the girls who were as well taught their gender roles in that education set up.

This form of learning is what got to spill over into the system of single sex education practiced widely not only in America but the entire globe as well. The entry of formal education came along with drastic changes. Some of these changes were guided by the feminist movement which made it clear that separation of sexes as a form of gender discrimination (Calabrese, p. 3). The early women elites were quite vocal that civilization would not achieve its intended outcomes if at all the gender segregation would continually get practiced. This created a new twist of events that it was high time girls were to be given the chance to compete favorably with their male counterparts as far as education is concerned.

Coed education was seen as the perfect remedy to this situation and that is where parents, teachers as well as authorities acknowledged in a gradual manner the huge role of Coed education in molding both the boy and the girl child into responsible adults who are ready to handle the life challenges competently. Since then, there has been a raging debate pitting single sex education against coed education. It is only fair to put it clear that both practices have the pros and cons. To begin with, single sex education is seen as a practice which decreases any form of distractions in the learning process. The education system coincides with the period when school going children at their puberty and adolescent ages. This is the development stage where the boy and girl interaction may arouse interaction of the opposite sex. The opposite sex interaction provides a platform for the learning process to get disrupted.

Instead of concentrating on studies, the school going teenagers get embroiled in premarital sex. This has long standing consequences as the teenagers stand a risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections or worse still the dreaded HIV/Aids. On the same note, in coed schools, cases of sexual harassment are reported time and again; with single sex education this deviant social practice has no room for girls getting sexually harassed by the boys. Such distractions interfere with the learning process and may have long standing consequences as far as the results and general academic performance is concerned. Single sex learning is famed for its role in reduction of behavior problems of the students. It is quite common for boys to brush shoulders the wrong way with their teachers in discipline matters in the presence of girls. This emanates from the boys’ tendency to assert themselves in the presence of girls.

It is therefore quite important to separate them for a smooth learning process. Learning is also quite productive in single sex schools as it provides a chance for the boys and girls to exercise their leadership qualities. It is quite expected that in the presence of boys, girls tend to take an inferior role. This is mainly because boys exercise some degree of authority that makes them seem superior to the girls. As a result, girls do not display their leadership qualities effectively. It is quite unfortunate that this may translate to the labor market where women who attended Coed schools may display inferior leadership qualities. Yet another issue that affirms the superiority of single sex schools over coed schools is that single sex schools address the unique traits of and different learning styles of boys and girls (Spielhagen, p. 13).

This in essence means that Coed schools are at a disadvantage as they do not offer keen attention to both boys and girls since they make use of a general approach to educate both genders while the single sex schools put into perspective the specific gender needs when teaching; the learning process consequently gets productive. Due to the gender differences, single sex schooling has the advantage of reduction of gender bias. In Coed education system, the interaction between students and teachers may bring about sex oriented bias. For instance, boys may receive much attention from the teachers as they are seen to exercise much more leadership competency.

In the same measure, boys’ excellence in science subjects may make teachers develop much interest in providing boys with more attention than girls in the same classroom set up (Erin Pahlke & Janet). It is therefore important that they are separated into different learning institutions so that at least girls may develop interest in the subjects seen as the boys’ strongholds. This will have positive effects since such girls from single sex schools may develop interest in science and technical oriented careers which are falsely thought to be a preserve for the boy child as asserted in the (Alice Sullivan and Heather) article.

As much as single sex education may have all the above illustrated advantages, the counter argument is that coed education practice molds the students into people who are well prepared for the life after school. It is good to highlight that single sex schools provide learning to students in an environment which is not a direct reflection of what is in the real life situation. Children who go through the single sex education system may find it difficult interacting with members of the opposite gender in the real world. This is because they are in most cases not well prepared in terms of socialization skills and that is why mingling professionally with opposite gender in future might be a problem.

This has led to the single sex education system getting accused of being unrealistic. Yet another issue of concern is that boys have a tendency of developing an aggressive behavior when they interact with fellow boys for prolonged periods of time like in the single sex schooling case. This aggression can be neutralized by implementation of the mixed learning system with an aim of creating healthy cross gender interaction which makes the boys value the girls as equal human beings before the law (Spielhagen, 63).

In conclusion, it is crystal clear that if professionally monitored, a coeducational setting nurtures both boys and girls into responsible young adults who are well prepared for the real life challenges. This is because life is not all about excellent academic performance but social interactions are equally important in facilitating development of an all round human being who is well prepared for the life after school as far as academic and social life is concerned which after all is the main aim of getting formally educated.

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The History and Concept of Single Sex Education and Co Education. (2021, Dec 20). Retrieved from

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