Posts tagged " mixed-sex education "

Should schools be co-educational or single gender?

September 3rd, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 6 comments

Co-education mean girls and boys taught together in one school. This subject is relative and it depends on societies, but in general it is useful educationally. It creates more devotion to studying as boys will be more serious because girls in general like to be serious which inspires the boys. Also  it helps more cooperation and understanding among the girls and boys. Is this narrative correct?

Vinjay C.

Dear Vinjay,

We thought it appropriate to answer your question on a day when many schools are beginning their  new year. You posit two reasons why co-education is a good idea, though if we were making a list of pros and cons, each column would have many more items than just those  you mentioned. If either co-education or single-gender education produced only positive or only negative results, the decision would, of course, be easy. 

However, you aren’t asking us for our opinion but rather what the Biblical prescription for education is, so we must answer from that perspective. . The Biblical command is, “And you shall teach your children…” (Deuteronomy 11:19). Each parent is obligated to teach his and her own offspring and, as we see from Jacob’s blessings to his sons, to be aware of each individual’s particular talents, abilities, weaknesses and needs. Furthermore, Proverbs 22:6 famously advises “Teach each youngster in the way most suitable for him.”  This is enormously challenging because all parents have a tendency to favor their own styles and to employ these styles on every one of their children regardless. Turning down their own instincts in favor of generating just what their children most need from them is surely one of parents’ most exciting and demanding challenges. Parents are required to provide a religious education as well as whatever is needed for a full life, including workplace and home skills. 

At a certain point in history, schools did come into being.  Today, most schools in the Western world educate boys and girls together while others separate the genders.  As we all know, almost anything carried too far becomes toxic and the rampant concupiscence and premature sexualization that has become characteristic of American public education is obviously something no responsible parents would want for their children. At the other extreme, some parochial schools insulate boys and girls from one another to an undesirable degree. As with so many instances in life, the golden center is so much harder to maintain than the appealing and simple extremes.  

In general, Biblical direction tends towards separating boys and girls, men and women to a much greater extent than our society does today.  This applies to educational, religious and general social activities. From the time of, “male and female He created them,” until today, while each and every person is an individual, there are still tendencies that most males share and those that most females share, making different methods of teaching and learning more suitable to one or the other gender.

There are possible pitfalls in separating the sexes, including as you say losing out on positive influences from each other and failing to learn how to cooperate with the opposite sex. There is only one solution and that is to make sure that in your family, your home must be far more influential in shaping the moral attitudes of your children than their schools.  If education is outsourced, as it is for most people today, then the family must remain the mainstay for making sure to counterbalance those negatives.

One part of achieving this is for both the father and mother to play equal and complementary roles in the child’s upbringing.  Nothing that children see or hear at school about male/female relationships should influence them nearly as much as how they see their own father and mother interact.

Keep on learning,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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