Education, study and knowledge

Separate education by sex: characteristics and criticisms

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Throughout history, we have been able to see how different aspects of living in society have evolved in different directions. Values, concepts, cultures, ways of seeing the world, philosophies or political systems have been born, modified and altered. The way of educating is not an exception, generally advancing towards an egalitarian educational practice which claims that everyone has the same opportunities regardless of race, condition, age or sex.

Regarding the latter, currently in most schools and educational institutions in our country boys and girls receive a quality education in centers where they are trained in mixed classrooms where both sexes are present, whether we are talking about public institutions or private. However, there are still some schools that defend separate education by sex. In this article we are going to analyze what this type of education is, what it defends and the existing positions in this regard.

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Separate education by sex: what is it and what is it intended to do?

We call education separated by sex, also called differentiated education or segregated education, to a type of educational model which is characterized by the defense of the teaching of a separate formation of members of each sex. In other words, we are dealing with a model that implies that boys are educated with boys and girls with girls, without mixing in the classroom.

Formal education separated by sex is not a recent educational model, but it appears from the moment that schooling becomes compulsory for both sexes. Even before compulsory schooling there was a differentiated education, being in the case focused on acquiring the culture and skills necessary to successfully perform tasks domestic. It would not be until 1783 that compulsory schooling for girls would begin in Spain, albeit with a differentiated curriculum focused on traditional gender roles.

This differentiation would be maintained through the various laws that emerged over time, forming male and female schools. In fact, mixed education did not appear in our country until 1901, although differences continued to exist and for the most part education would remain separated by sex. Likewise, the various historical events and dictatorships would mean a series of advances and setbacks in the search for mixed education. In fact, until the General Education Law of 1970, curricular equality and the real mixed school would not be recognized.

Today, most of the West has left this model behind, using an educational model in which the mixed education of boys and girls prevails. However, there are still different schools that maintain separate education by sex. Although in many cases we find ourselves before a paradigm that is followed in more traditionalist and religious schools, the truth is that sectors have also appeared that defend it from a perspective that claims to seek the maximum level of development of both sexes.

Next we will see some of the points of view taken into account both for the positions in favor of this type of model and those of those who are against.

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Positions in favor of this type of education

Those who defend separate education by sex, who tend to call it single-sex education, propose that this type of education provides more educational possibilities and rely on the fact that supposed an educational model to which parents who wish to do so can subscribe.

Another point that is usually added is the idea that with a separate education, it is possible to assess and act differentiated in specific problems of each sex and attend to the different rhythm of development presented by the children and girls. This could also make it easier for education to be more adjusted by adapting to specific development rates and generate less dropout and school failure and facilitating academic success by adapting education to the evolutionary particularities of each sex.

They propose that each sex sees its rhythm of development accepted and validated, in such a way that it is not limited by the perception of differences with respect to the other sex. Likewise, they also mention this type of education not as something sexist that seeks the submission of women to men, but as a way to emancipate them.

It is also often suggested that mixed education requires a specific pace and way of acting towards all students, without attending to the differences not only in development but also in the way of behaving. It is considered that the boy tends to be more energetic, competitive and active while the girl tends to have a higher level of discipline and verbal and emotional reasoning.

From this position, it is also believed that it is common for many girls to feel uneasy due to the high level of agitation and activity of the boys, while boys tend to see that the level of biological maturation of their peers is greater than their own, and they are also penalized for their level of activation.

It has also been observed that in differentiated education there tends to be a lower level of disorders of the eating and body self-image problems, as well as lower levels of distraction on the part of both sexes.

Oppositions against segregation by sex

Oppositions against separate education by sex, which they often call it segregated educationOn the other hand, they maintain that the separation of both sexes in different classrooms makes it difficult to adapt to the real world. In fact, on a day-to-day basis, students live and work with people of both sexes on a continuous basis, being the segregation of the sexes in the school environment something that makes it difficult for them to be used to working jointly.

Likewise, coeducation or mixed education supposes the existence of equal opportunities between both sexes, being educated in the same way and with the same options. Segregated education implies limiting these options and the generation of two different classes of student, not all students benefiting from the same education.

The validation that we have of the possible differentiated levels of development can mean erroneously attributing a lower capacity of one or the other in certain types of studies or learning. There is a risk of stereotyping students, and also not taking into account individual differences within the same gender.

They also take into account that a large part of the differences classically attributed to gender differences actually start from different ways. differentiated ways of educating or considering the figure of men and women, and that the biological differences that do exist and seem to facilitate that some skills are easier to acquire and/or master for a certain sex are not greater than those existing among members of the same. With regard to individual differences, since mixed education should take into account the particularities and specific needs of each student without considering that they are due solely to the biological sex with the that they have been born

In addition, there would also be a positive effect at the stock level. The fact of being educated together implies that boys and girls can develop attitudes such as the acceptance of different perspectives and ways of doing things, promotes tolerance and facilitates the existence of respect and equality between men and women.

The actual situation

As we have seen, separate education by sex is a controversial educational model that has its supporters and detractors. In Spain, the Constitutional Court has recently determined that this educational model is constitutional and that can be paid for at the public level, offering itself to those families that so wish. This is not an isolated case: in different European countries (for example, the United Kingdom and France) and in the American continent (in Canada and the United States) this educational model is applied in different ownership centers, not necessarily private. The same is true in Africa, South America, Asia and Australia.

However, at present this type of education continues to be rejected by a large part of the population and Western society. considering a model based on traditional gender roles, which generates inequalities and differences between the sexes, which is little adaptive, unrepresentative of the real world and in which the lack of understanding and acceptance of differences and tolerance to the diversity.

Bibliographic references:

  • Alcazar, J.A. and Martos, J.L. (2005). Some reflections on differentiated education by sex. Navarra: Eunsa Astrolabe.
  • Of the Order, M. (2017). Analysis of differentiated education in a context of egalitarian educational policies. Faculty of Philosophy and Letters. Cadiz University.
  • bald, m. (2005). Boys with boys, girls with girls. Cordoba: Almuzara.
  • Subirats, M. (2010). Coed or segregated school? An old and persistent debate. Journal of the Association for the Sociology of Education 3(1): 146.
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