Is co-education good or bad 1

Debate co-education in schools: broken voice, sweat, swimming pool

Swimming lessons are compulsory, according to the European Court of Human Rights. It remains to be seen whether co-education will lead to more equality.

Swimming nicer without boys. At least during puberty, it can be good for your self-confidence to keep to yourself Photo: ap

On Tuesday of this week, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that two Swiss schoolgirls are not allowed to withdraw from swimming lessons because of their religion. The expected reaction of the majority to this individual case: A good thing, because the common teaching of boys and girls, co-education, is ultimately an achievement of the West. It was only the modernization of the school system that made mixed-sex classes possible.

But girls and boys are often separated in physical education at German schools anyway. At a Dresden grammar school, the author of this text could only compete with the boys in the shot put at school celebrations - and probably had to do rhythmic gymnastics when the little men were allowed to do strength exercises. Nobody shrank from room dividers in the gym at the time.

Established role clichés

But back to co-education. As early as the 1980s, there was criticism of girls and boys learning together. On the one hand, studies show that girls in all-girl classes do better in subjects that are typically connoted as male - that is, computer science, physics, mathematics; you name it. The reasons for this have not been conclusively clarified. Girls often do not trust each other because of role stereotypes they have learned early on and are laughed at louder by boys if they give wrong answers. They also face teachers whose unconscious expectation is that a boy will learn the basics of programming better.

Men’s rights activists, on the other hand, criticize the fact that the education system discriminates against boys. Above all, this has to do with the high proportion of women among the teachers. You don't have to go that far. But anyone who has gone to school in the last twenty years knows that typical boys' behavior is severely sanctioned at school - whether by men or women. Anyone who does not sit well and quietly behind the table will be disciplined. Hardworking girls are praised - and get better grades. Because being hard-working is girl stuff, boys find such behavior uncool and sometimes try less hard.

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It is now like this: Because boys and girls learn together, that doesn't mean that gender socialization is more equal. But to conclude from this that we should reintroduce schools for boys and girls across the board again would be unrealistic. The world looks different and basically all genders are endowed with the same high nerve and love potential. On the other hand, the drama of the sexes accumulates in a very specific period, namely puberty.

The solution to the problem could be very simple: from 7th to 10th grade girls and boys go to school separately - including swimming lessons in middle school. During this time, between the ages of 12 and 16, pretty much every teen feels uncomfortable with his or her skin. Everything is embarrassing. Broken voice, sweat, breasts.

Secretly dancing tampons

During this time, girls learn a sophisticated choreography to provide each other with tampons. One hand slides inconspicuously into the school bag, comes out tightly enclosing the tampon and meets another enclosed hand that only opens for a fraction of a second for the handover. If the choreography is not successful and the tampon lands on the floor, the fascinated and disgusted boys immediately dunk it in water and use it as a projectile from then on. Embarrassing.

Also embarrassing: guys who cannot get up because they would draw attention to themselves with their permanent erection. At the end, someone asks how it came about - and who would want to admit that the ethics teacher's sleeveless T-shirt was the trigger. In short: In puberty, all genders have their own problems and therefore withdraw into their own girl or boy gang anyway. It wasn't until the age of 17 or 18, in upper school, that the worst was over. Everyone feels grown up and has for the most part identified the enemy in the system rather than in the opposite.

For girls, both heterosexual and homosexual, a temporary girl class would certainly not be a terrifying idea. For a 13 year old gay boy? Probably yes. In school playgrounds, “gay” is a dirty word, where it is often the girls who make friends with these boys. But there is hope: Educators have reported that boys in boys' classes are definitely more sensitive to their own feelings and are more likely to open up.

Educators have reported that boys in boys' classes are definitely more sensitive to their own feelings and are more likely to open up

So could the temporary boys class be a shelter to develop new forms of masculinity? Without girls, to whom someone has to give the strong. And which camp should young people with a trans identity choose? It is the recurring problem of shelters: They have to be defined and can thus create unwanted exclusions.

But the concept of temporary gender segregation proposed here can work if the stated goal is actually gender equality. The teachers then have to be trained accordingly.