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[Op-Ed] Challenges in Co-education

Posted April. 18, 2009 08:39,   


Stetson University in Florida surveyed test scores of single-gender and mixed classes at Woodward Avenue Elementary School. According to the survey, 37 percent of boys and 59 percent of girls showed good performances in mixed classes but 86 percent of boys and 75 percent of girls showed higher achievement in single-gender classes. Most boys whose grades improved in single-gender classes were considered to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in mixed classes.

As research shows that single-gender classes result in higher achievement, the U.S. government abolished its 30-year ban on single-gender classes at public schools. Accordingly, many public schools have become single gender or begun providing single-gender classes. In the 1990s, few public schools provided such classes but more than 250 schools provided single-gender classes in 2007. The National Association for Single Sex Public Education has sought to eradicate mixed classes.

In Korea, the share of general high schools providing mixed classes jumped from 43.9 percent in 1999 to 56.1 percent last year. The concept of gender equality has contributed to the spread of coeducation. Supporters of gender equality ask why only girls learn needlework. Skepticism over coeducation has emerged, however, as high schools with mixed classes have shown lower performance than those providing single-gender classes in the college entrance exam. Coeducation is widely known to have benefits in encouraging both boys and girls to study harder and behave well. Many studies, however, prove that such a belief is wrong. Instead coeducation could result in a negative impact on studying since boys might pay too much attention to girls, and vice versa.

Studies on magnetic resonance imaging show men and women have inherently different brain structures. More experts say it makes no sense to educate biologically different boys and girls in the same ways under the same environments. Such an argument sounds more plausible. Parents of boys are more aggressively opposing coeducation. The disproportionate good performance of girls has fueled fears among parents with boys and supported the argument to abolish coeducation.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)