The Thinking 

The Perils of Coeducation

January 7, 2018

FROM George Gilder’s Men and Marriage:

Imaginative advocates of coeducation will tell you that the boys are learning to regard the girls as “human beings” rather than sexual objects. What in fact the boys are learning is that unless they are exceptionally “bright”  and obedient, they will be excelled in their studies by most of the girls. Unless you are imaginative, you will see that this is a further drag on their already faltering attention …. Clearly in a losing game in masculine terms, the boys react in two ways: They put on a show for the girls and dominate the class anyway, or they drop out. Enough of them eventually drop out, in fact, to disguise the otherwise decided statistical superiority of female performance in school. But they do not drop out soon enough to suit educators for whom aggressive boys are the leading problem in every high school.

Adolescent boys are radically different from adolescent girls. The boys, for example, are at the pinnacle of sexual desire and aggressiveness. In school, what they chiefly need is male discipline and challenge, ideally without girls present to distract them. Girls, on the other hand, are less aggressive and sexually compulsive at this age and are more willing to study without rigid policing and supervision. Thus a classroom that contains both boys and girls will hurt both. The boys will be excelled and demoralized by the girls; the girls will be distracted and demoralized by the boys. Both sexes will be damaged by the continuous disciplining that the rebellious and unsuccessful boys require. 

The cost is a system which many boys experience as oppressively feminine in spirit and in which, as Patricia Cato Sexton has elaborately documented, the most “feminine” boys tend to excel. The problem begins in first grade, when many of the boys are a full nine months behind the girls in digital coordination and the emphasis is on penmanship. Mrs. Sexton believes that the striking aversion to writing shown by so many boys throughout their education may stem from their frustrations as six-year-olds when their hands are physically unready to write. She contends that such patterns continue throughout a school career.

Mechanical and technical interests and skills, predominantly masculine, are downplayed in favor of the feminine realms of writing and high culture. The educational utility of the boys’ preoccupation with sports and automobiles is universally neglected. The boys are not shown how to compute batting averages or taught the physical principles involved in a carburetor. Instead school consists almost exclusively of sitting down quietly for long periods among adolescent girls, at the behest of a female teacher, and reading and writing materials of little interest to most adolescent boys. [Men and Marriage, George Gilder; Pelican Publishing, 1986; pp. 117-118]

— Comments —

Anita Kern writes:

I quite agree that it is best for boys and girls to go to different  schools.It was my experience when a child in Belgium that we had separate schools, and even when I emigrated to Montreal, there also there were separate schools. Furthermore, both in Belgium and in Montreal, we had school uniforms. In Belgium it was a kind of overall ‘tablier’ and in Montreal white  blouses and navy jumpers. In this way also, differences in the parents’ financial backgrounds were made less obvious.

In Belgium, I believe that for primary, the schooling for both sexes was similar, but for secondary grades, from 7th on, there were different streams, for both girls and boys, toward either ‘vocational’ or more ‘classical’ studies, depending on one’s results in the primary grades. In the secondary stream, one even studied Latin, and Greek if desired.

Separating girls from boys made it easier for the children to concentrate and to participate in better-oriented interests.

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