Do you remember the days when your teacher would inform you of the new seating arrangement and you would groan with the news that it would be boy/girl, boy/girl?
This may not have been normality for everyone but I spent my education in mixed gender schools where boys and girls learnt together and nobody was segregated.
Today’s blog theme is ‘Same gender vs Mixed gender education’, something which I am in two minds about.
Is it right? Is it wrong? I wish I had a concrete opinion on the matter, but the truth is I don’t.
I believe that girls prosper in an environment where boys are not causing their usual boyish troubles. But at the same time, girls can be just as bad if not worse. Would you really want to be in a class full of only girls? I wouldn’t. We can be bitchy and as immature as boys.
It’s a well-known fact that boys and girls mature at different rates and maybe that’s something that needs to be taken into consideration. However, I don’t believe it’s a male/female issue. It’s more an issue of education. If you have a bright seven year old in a class with less bright seven year olds, are they going to be dragged back? On the other hand, if you have mature fourteen year olds in a class with equally mature fifteen year olds, would it allow them to prosper?
Now before I get off topic and start ranting and raving about the state of the education system (it’s perfectly possible it will happen if I’m let loose on this subject) I will return to the issue of boys and girls.
It turns out that my perception of this matter has actually changed, quite suddenly, in about thirty seconds. I was very briefly reminded of a television programme I watched last week about sex and a book about gender I have often dipped in and out of.
Gender and sex are two different things – sex is the physical attributes that determine whether a person has male or female reproductive organs and genes whereas gender is the environmental aspect relating to the roles that society puts upon a person considered male or female. Once upon a time we were lead to believe that males and females are the only options where sex is concerned. But this television programme I watched actually begs to differ. Some people are born with what is known as sexual ambiguity. In other words, we don’t necessarily know if they ‘should be’ male or female. Their genes may not be as black and white, nor may their reproductive organs and as for hormones, it’s not impossible for a ‘girl’ to have too much testosterone.
Aside from sex, there is also the issue of gender. Not all girls will be friends with girls (‘tomboys’) and not all boys will be friends with boys (I guess these boys often appear to be ‘gay’ whether they are or not) and actually, why should they? Gender isn’t actually a case of boys and girls, it’s considered to be a whole spectrum where boys are on one side and girls on the other.
Do I consider myself to be a girl in the traditional sense? Not really. I know I’m not a boy, but I know I’m not ‘like other girls’ either. I also know I’m not as boy-like as some girls out there. I’m somewhere along the spectrum between girls who ‘act’ more like boys and girls full stop.
Without getting into the issue over whether these babies should be allowed to be something other than male or female and whether we should official classify gender as more than male and female, I want to emphasise the fact that there is some argument to suggest there is more to humans than male and female and so, perhaps education shouldn’t be segregated in such a way.
I already know for a fact that I do not agree with segregating children, or even adults, based on religion and race. There’s plenty of arguments for disabled children to be educated in mainstream schools and there is certainly no reason at all not to allow gay or lesbian teenagers in a classroom with their heterosexual counterparts.
Religious segregation in education is accepted in the world today, as is segregation of the sexes for educational purposes. The historical influence of this shouldn’t bear any weight on whether it’s okay today, in the twenty-first century.
I’m almost certain, though have no evidence to back it up, that the only reason religion schools existed in the first place was because churches often provided schools before the state took over. Yet when the state took over, churches maintained their influence in education and as the country becomes more diverse we’re seeing schools pop up all over the place to cater for specific religions.
The only upside to this whole debacle, for me, is that same sex schools are more few and far between nowadays and education is, as a whole, for all. I know of only one school in my town which caters for boys and girls separately and that’s the only main private school we have here. (Don’t even get me started on the state/private debate.)
I guess what I’m trying to say is that because sex and gender are so difficult to truly define, how can we separate children in this way? It would be like saying a really masculine girl who flourishes mostly in an environment with boys must attend a girls’ school because she’s officially a girl. Would you say the same about a child in a wheelchair who has a fully functioning brain? Should they go to a special school for those with disabilities? I highly expect not.
The world is full of boxes and categories. We’re forever having to say which ones we fit into.
Well world, I’m sick of your categorising people…let people be who they are, let them live together side by side; let them learn in an environment where they meet other children from various different backgrounds to themselves. That doesn’t just mean race and religion, it means gender too.
On a final note, if you were to separate children during their education based on religion, then sex/gender, then sexuality, then ability I ask of you this question: what do you do with a disabled Muslim girl who considers herself as being a lesbian?
(If you want to read more about the gender spectrum you can do so here.)
As always, there’s more than just my blog on today’s theme, so visit http://twitterblogathon.wordpress.com/ if you want to read Katy, Katy or Catnip’s blogs.