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Single-sex ain’t the real world

When a co-educational school introduces single-sex classes, that debate re-enters the limelight. The proposal, apparently, had the full support of the parents of Long Bay College — perhaps too caught up in whatever learning theory it might be based on. As one parent put it, “for boys, especially, it will be good because it will just take away the competition with the girls.”

Well, see, that’s great, because, arguably, the last thing a boy needs is for him to be distracted by girls in his secondary schooling. I mean, goodness, it’s so damn hard to concentrate in class with those things floating around, school would be so much easier without them. In fact, why don’t we run the world like that? Alas, the separatist revolution — let the boys and men run the northern hemisphere and let the girls and women run the southern! In this way everyone will prosper and the human race will continue to develop and nurture indefinitely. (This reminds me somwhat of “lesbian feminism”: the belief that all women should become lesbian in order to avoid interaction with men.)

After all, “there [is] strong evidence that boys learn better in a single-sex environment with clearly defined expectations,” as Association of New Zealand Boys’ Schools chair Jim Dale said. Like there’s strong evidence that sunblock can increase risk of cervical cancer. Though having “clearly defined expectations”—much like those in NCEA, might I point out—would help, which is only ever possible in a single-sex environment, so come on, let’s split the world into two, in fact, the entire world, and all men should become gay and all women lesbian to ensure the separatism never falls.

The purpose of school, some people seem to have forgotten, is (in part at least) to prepare students for what will come after schooling. To foster lifelong learners, to create good citizens, to nurture our future leaders. Are we really achieving this by separating boys and girls? Sure, they can learn more, do whatever they want, not have to worry about some chick coming and diverting their attention, but is that what happens in the real world? Most workplaces have members of both sexes working side by side, and it could only make sense that each sex learns to handle the other before they hit the workforce.

Long Bay College is not the first college to attempt such a move, but according to Ministry of Education senior manager for learning policy Steve Benson, “all [such schools] that we know of reverted to mixed-gender classes.” If Long Bay succeeds, it will then be a first, but realistically, an eventual reversion is more a question of when, than if.

Related Links

  • NZ Herald: Co-ed college introduces single-sex classes
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