New Single-Gender Education and Coeducation, face to face

Source:Iguales y Diferentes

Single-Gender education is a successful reality, peacefully accepted in many countries in the Western orbit, from Europe to Oceania, passing through the Americas. In some others, there is a constructive and pedagogical debate on the different models.

New Single-Gender Education and Coeducation

In Spain, however, political pressure has established the monolithic principle of mixed education (or coeducation), to the exclusion, in practice, of single-gender education.

One of the founding principles of Equal and Different is to remove differentiated education from the political debate. Paradoxically, in order to achieve this, it has been necessary to open a previous debate among experts so that it can be transferred to society.

We seem to be getting there.

A key part of this open conversation on single-gender education and mixed education has been the debate opened by Diario ABC between Miguel Dionis, co-founding member of Iguales y Diferentes, and Gabriel Castellano, president of the Asociación de Colegios Privados e Independientes-CICAE, which we have included in our previous article.

Girls and boys learn better with methods adapted to their maturation rhythms

Apparently as a consequence of the above, the general radio COPE has dealt with single-sex education and coeducation in two of its recent programs. On February 11, Cristina López Schlichting talks to psychologist Pedro Martínez and his mother, Ingeborg. The well-known radio journalist picks up several of the arguments that we have been making known in Equal and Different, such as the fact that Hillary Clinton and Meryl Streep are two of the standard-bearers of single-gender education in the United States; that in Australia half of the education system is single-gender; or that in the United Kingdom the best schools are single-gender.

Nueva Educación Diferenciada y coeducación, cara a cara

Pedro Martínez alludes to the ideological burden and prejudices as causes of the postponement of differentiated education in Spain. Single-Gender education, according to the psychologist, ends up being oriented towards modes of learning and ways of teaching that are more directed towards the potential of women than that of men, and this generates a distance.

Ingeborg Schlichting, on the other hand, provides the opinion of two experienced female teachers, who point to the different maturation of boys and girls as an important factor that is taken into account more in differentiated education. In addition, the latter significantly reduces the abuse of girls compared to coeducational schools.

Cristina López Schlichting recalls that many generations of Spaniards have been educated in single-gender education and are very proud of it, as well as of the Mercedarian nuns who educated her, whom she remembers as great feminists, who were able to train their students splendidly.

What is essential is that families can choose on equal terms.

The following day, COPE radio continues with the single-gender debate, this time with two experts in education, Alfonso Aguiló, president of the Spanish Confederation of Educational Centers (CECE) and Ana Roa, pedagogue, specialist in early childhood education and coordinator of pedagogy at the College of Doctors and Graduates of Madrid.

Aguiló is presented as a defender of single-gender education and Roa as a defender of mixed education; but throughout the discussion it is discovered that, in reality, both agree on the fundamental point: that both models are useful and should coexist on an equal footing, in order to preserve the plurality of pedagogical options and the freedom of choice of families.

The president of the EEC advocates respecting as legitimate the opinion of those who think that equality and equity between men and women is achieved as well and even better in single-sex schools, something that would show that it is in girls’ schools where demand grows the most, or that in differentiated schools gender stereotypes are less present, because there are no groups of belonging or gender biases, the pressure of the environment is much lower and, consequently, gender gaps are reduced.

Aguiló argues that the differentiated model achieves excellent results in dealing with the other gender. Boys and girls live in a mixed world, and for 850 hours a year, which is a very small part of their lives, being in an all-male or all-female environment is not only not harmful, but in many cases beneficial.

A plural society needs a plural educational system

For his part, Roa insists that, regardless of the aspects under debate and the preferences of one or the other, families must be able to choose, and there cannot be an economic veto (the current law prohibits the arrangement of differentiated schools), which in many cases is the same as prohibiting access to single-sex schools in practice.

At the end of the debate, both experts agree that if we want a plural society there must be plural education, with plural schools, funded on equal opportunities, in the same way that there is a plurality of political parties, trade unions, etc. This is recognized in other countries, as did in Germany the Constitutional Court in a 2013 ruling, recognizing that equality is something that everyone seeks and that there is diversity of opinions on how to achieve it; or the Spanish Constitutional Court itself in 2018 (although it has later gone against its own doctrine in another ruling).

New Differentiated Education under debate: Equal and Different

Equal and different, is an association promoted by parents, alumni and teachers whose purpose is to promote educational pluralism, through the dissemination and support of the model of gender-differentiated education under equal conditions, at national and international levels. It seeks to respond to the uniqueness of each person, overcome gender stereotypes, reduce school failure and advance educational equity.

E&D focuses its action around three axes: promoting the social mobilization of parents and alumni; dialogue with journalists to improve knowledge of this educational model; and relations with politicians and social actors.

Learn more about Equal and Different here.