Gender-separate education involves a practice where male and female students attend their classes in different buildings or different schools. It is also known as single-sex education. According to federal government rule, the United States of America has its defined national policies regarding education from kindergartens to secondary education. The gender-separate education system, however, does not have much significance to the adolescents in terms of their personal development and the perspective view of their future lives. The cost of running two schools with parallel programs is relatively high. In addition, separation undermines equality between the two genders, and devalues the importance of diversity that is evident in the outside society. These factors serve to establish the basis, upon which this system (gender-separation) of education is discredited for failing to provide an efficacious environment for the adolescent students.
First, according to Levine (2003, p. 97), the education system of separate sex schooling devalues diversity. On the traditional forums, where free school was practiced as an informal occasion, there was an element of respect to diversity as well as respect for the other gender. The focus of this education system was entirely on roles and responsibilities that different cultures expected from their respective male and female genders in the society. Although it was beneficial in organizing the community, such an approach on formal platforms would restrict teenagers to the gender expectations of the community, deprive them of a chance to have diverse responsibilities with regards to their hobbies, talents and abilities.
Single gender education was common in the past. Boys and girls were engaged in dialogues between each other by their elders, but they usually communicated on gender-separate forums in order to guide adolescents with respect to their gender roles and responsibilities. Different cultures, however, had different ways of conducting this system of education. The benefits that teenagers gained from such forums in those days cannot be overlooked, although the education was conducted on the basis of traditions and partly religion. This ancient style of teaching has crept into the modern school system, and several institutions around the world have implemented the single-gender education. There is, however, a huge difference between single-gender classes and single-sex schools regarding benefits that the learners gain (Levine et al., 2003, p. 47).
Second, from the point of view of economic benefits, it is relatively expensive to run two parallel programs. For a district with separate-gender schools, which does not have sufficient resources to provide for both of them, it would be a wise decision to have one mixed gender school. With the current global economic conditions, when resources are minimal and the need to be economical becomes imperative, it could be a good solution that would not sacrifice the quality of education. In this light, mixed gender education is the necessary condition to guarantee that all learners benefit in a cost effective manner. Merging the male and female teenage students equally helps administration to establish good planning and distribution protocol of available resources.
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Last, equality between the sexes, for instance, is profoundly undermined when the two groups of learners are occasionally on separate forums. Although all institutions have to follow the state guidelines and curriculum standards set by the education policies, providing knowledge to a particular gender separately makes the whole process different. According to Levine, “True equality means holding everyone accountable in the same way, regardless of race, gender, faith, ethnicity or political ideology” (2003, p. 69). The fact that these two groups are not in one forum can leads to some biases between the instructors, who might prefer a group with particular gender and have better attitude to these students. It entirely undermines the equality aspect between the sexes.
While single-gender school practice is a legal practice in the United States of America, the professionals starting such institutions have to abide by three main elements to ensure that they meet all the requirements. The federal government does not allow a district to have a school only for girls, for instance, if it does not have a separate school for boys. This rule helps to ensure that both genders have equal chances with regards to choice. The curriculum, programs, and activities in these separate gender learning institutions should be run according to given national standard. It serves to avoid gender biases, and offer equal opportunities and knowledge to all learners regardless of their sex.
Since the opinions on single-sex education vary, the basis for establishing such schools is an assumption that girls might be underprivileged, for instance, in sciences, considering the number of female professionals in this sphere. Separating these teenagers from the male counterparts of the same age is considered to be useful in employing extra efforts that must be focused on this educational area, for instance, in order to equate the two gender types (Levine, 2003, p. 103). The motive behind the establishing single-sex schools seems to be appropriate; however, the results of this practice do not always match the expectations. If we analyze this approach critically, we may see that adolescents do not necessarily benefit from separate-gender education especially in a formal sphere like education, especially if they are not involved in social interaction with opposite gender that serve to prepare them for the social life.
In conclusion, although separate-gender education may help to provide children of both genders with equal opportunities, the adverse effects of this practice cannot be overlooked. In my point of view, teenagers who study in mixed gender groups are better prepared for functional, proactive social life with the help of the natural environment they have been brought up. They are more privileged with regards to opportunities for social and emotional growth and development, considering the diverse environment they are exposed to. In this light, proper guidance and leadership is paramount at this stage to ensure that teenagers are not deprived of quality interaction and that their communication with fellows of the opposite sex remains constructive and affirmative.
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