On Sunday night, 60 Minutes Australia aired a segment looking at new research that found single-sex schools are no better for children than co-educational ones. The piece, called The Answer, spoke to Professor Lise Eliot, who used new neurological research to explain her finding that there is no scientific basis for teaching boys and girls separately.
Professor Eliot said that according to the research, segregation of the sexes may in fact hinder learning as a whole.
“Girls aren’t doing any good by just talking to each other. About how to lead and change things. They need to be part of the total conversation. Which includes men and boys.”
Well, I’m not an expert, not an academic, but I certainly know my personal answer to this age-old debate; and it’s different to what I thought even just one year ago.
I went to an all-girls, strongly feminist school my whole life. It worked great for me. I loved school, I did well at school. Despite being in a girls-only environment for 13 years, I knew how to speak to guys outside of school, so it didn’t seem to make a difference there. Sure, we were boy-crazy – but that was probably just me and my friends, not the lack of environmental testosterone.
When it came time to making a decision as a parent, I figured, well, it worked for me, so that’s what I want for my son, too. And it did, beautifully, for seven years (from age three-and-a-half).
Then, life happened, as it often does. At the end of last year, we moved to Sydney for my work with just a few months’ notice – and I decided to ’embrace change’ as they say: I made the decision to try a co-ed school. I thought, well, new home, new state, new school – might as well go the whole shebang and really ‘shake things up’.
In my utterly unbiased opinion, my son is a bit of a charmer, and has always been popular with girls we’ve known, so I was pretty confident that socially it wouldn’t be an issue for him. So, we made the change.
Now we’ve just finished three terms there, this is what I’ve found.