Society is not single gender, but a rich interaction of different identities, personalities and culture. Co-education brings that mix together to provide a learning environment that authentically represents the world in which we live. When choosing which school might be the best fit for your child, here are some benefits of co-education to consider.
A co-educational environment provides all children with a strong foundation for building respectful social and professional relationships. Working in close collaboration, children have opportunity to observe similarities and differences in learning styles, behaviours and social connections, which can help to cultivate a mutual respect and understanding for each other.
As children progress through their school years, they will experience sports carnivals, school theatre productions, outdoor education camps and share learning and recreational spaces. These shared experiences help children develop a respect for different strengths, weaknesses, and inherent skills, giving everyone equal chance to shine, learn, or exhibit humility in turn.
All children can see the world differently, based on their experiences and stereotyping. In the classroom this can lead to lively debate and critical questioning as different perspectives are voiced and shared. Children can benefit intellectually and socially when they are seeing the world through someone else’s eyes.
Learning to understand another’s perspective without prejudice is a fundamental skill for success in our ever-evolving society, and demonstrates emotional growth, strength of character, empathy and respect.
Friendships develop naturally between children in co-educational schools as they are brought together in the classroom, project teams, school ‘houses’, clubs, societies, musical groups and by shared extra-curricular interests.
Interacting as contemporaries, sharing successes and disappointments, children navigate adolescence with the support and guidance of their peers. Again, that different gender perspective can often help children overcome any differences of opinion, self-doubt, or conflict.
Opening up emotionally with someone of different gender can sometimes be easier than opening up to someone of your own. Shyness, fear of being misunderstood, a lack of confidence, or simple awkwardness can hold a student back from seeking help or advice, but when a diverse pool of potential peer advisors is at your disposal many concerns can be answered, contributing to self-esteem and cementing ideals of equality.
Practical and curriculum considerations
Co-educational schools are more numerous and tend to have a bigger enrolment than single sex schools. Whether state or independent, bigger schools can often facilitate a more diverse curriculum for senior years and electives. For a subject to be viable it can require a minimum student uptake, which is more likely to be met out of a bigger cohort. If your child has an interest in pursuing a particular career or area of study, available facilities and specialist subject offerings can be a deciding factor on your choice of school.
Another benefit of co-education is the consideration is siblings. Regardless of gender, siblings can all attend the same co-ed school, bringing with that the convenience of a single school run, no clashes of awards nights or parent-teacher conferences, shared uniform, and familial support.
Preparing your child for the future
Tertiary education providers are generally co-educational. The transition to university, TAFE or trade college can be less confronting or overwhelming when there is already experience of studying and collaborating with peers of a different gender.
A background of diverse social and educational interactions with peers can also prepare your child for employment, helping them to be more at ease regardless of the gender dynamic of their senior or co-workers.
Positive relationships with opposite genders, gained through co-education, can help your child break down gender misconceptions and become a respectful, resilient, and collaborative adult.
This article was featured in Issue 44 of our printed magazine, published February 2021.