Friday, July 20, 2007

Co-Ed vs. Single-Sex Education

I understand the value of same-gender schooling; but it has to be at the right moments in human development and for the correct reasons. I think that same-gender elementary schooling makes sense as little boys are just trying to play catch up to little girls in terms of social maturity and development. It makes even more sense because little boys couldn't care less about little girls, and vice versa, during these early childhood years. And I'd say the same for same-gender colleges, where young women and young men who have presumably learned from and matured through the pains and joys of adolescence, can make a conscious choice to put themselves in a learning environment unencumbered by the raging hormones of adolescence and who can concentrate with confidence on Aristotle, Austen/Auden, and Atoms.

But, as someone who went to a same-gender, all-male high school, I can tell you that boys and girls who are in the process of self-discovery and acute sexual awareness need to be around each other in an academic enviornment where the life of the mind and the raging hormones of the body can find a respectful and balanced co-existence. In High School, my buddies and I read Homer in the original Greek, we learned chemical compounds together, and we discussed existential philosophy and the meaning of life, all the while not realizing nor caring that our female counterparts could do the same, whom we thought of only at lunch or after school, and not in the realm of the intellect, but in the social and physical realm that was driven almost exclusively by our raging hormones. We did not have a gender-balance during the most formative hours of our days to temper our intellectual, social, and physical awakenings, and the relationships between them.

I came out of High School very well educated, and even sensitive, by most standards, but also relationally stunted in some ways, which I realized with some shock during my first semester at co-ed University. Adolescence is an experience that happens only once in life, while Calculus and Kierkegaard can be learned and experienced at any time. High School should be -- no, it has to be -- the time when one's discovery of his or her physical and emotional identity as a man or women (i.e. adolescence) in relation to the other gender is part and parcel of the life of the mind and the body. One should not get to college thinking that men are mindless sex-crazed brutes, or that women are mindless sex-toy barbies, without really having had the chance to experience whether these stereotypes are true. And I believe that no matter how many books one reads in High School or how many opposite-gender teachers one has in High School, one will miss an irretrievable and crucially important moment in one's personal development if one goes through adolescence without having opposite-gender peers sitting next to each other in the classroom, flirting with each other, perhaps distracting each other from the books at times, and challenging each other's ideas.


Simulacre said...

Wow! you're better than me...I couldn't put HP down over the weekend! I just finished it last night around 12:30!

I think that book might have been the best of the lot! It's kinda sad that the series has come to a far did you manage to get?

Huck said...

I'm about halfway done. My wife got her copy at about 12:05am on Saturday morning. She read it in about 16 hours. I couldn't get started on it until Saturday evening. So far, so good -- but no spoilers, please!!!

Simulacre said...

definitely no spoilers...I would never do that to you!

Your wife and I share the same compulsion... I worked hard on Friday to finish my lawn duties and honey-do list so the rest of the weekend would be free.

I picked my copy up Saturday morning at 8 and spent every free minute I had Saturday and Sunday to complete it!