An Argument for Single-Sex Schooling
Recently an article published an all-girls school being set up in Toronto Canada, The Linden School. The school is based on the grounds of providing a completely gender-focused mode of teaching. The principal believes that as girls and boys are different, they require different environments to be taught as well.
The article showed many findings why single-sex schools work better. Boys and girls behaved properly, they concentrated more on studies rather than impressing each other, each showed more potential in their related subjects, there is no hesitation in class participation and there is less pressure to dress up every day.
These are some very important aspects that have been outlined by the principal. Many extroverts might consider many of these aspects as unimportant for schooling and an old-fashioned approach. I agree that mixed education system gives a good reason to get up every morning looking the best to go to school. But a point to consider is how important that is for us.
Upon reading this article by Dawn Chan, principle of all-girls Linden School, so many reasons and stances came to my mind as to why it is a good and a bad idea. I studied in an all girls school myself till 12th grade and one thing that I noticed, when I went to a co-ed university after, what was lacking in me was confidence in speaking my mind with boys around. I did reflect a confident persona but inside I used to tremble. The boys seemed so smart and witty. They always had the best answers, they understood things quicker than girls and they always had this mocking look on their faces whenever a girl started to speak. My confidence increased with time but I used to think if I had studied in a co-ed school since the beginning I would have reached the confidence level much earlier.
But then I thanked Allah SWT I didn’t. School is not the time to build up confidence with the opposite gender. Rather the focus should be on quality education. Confidence can be gained with time and exposure to the world and not only when interacting with the opposite gender. The age of puberty brings about a lot of physical, mental and emotional changes in children. This is what I call the exploring age. When children go to school they will make friends and open up to each other; this is a part of their grooming as well. Mixed schooling systems may provide confidence in children but it will affect them in other ways as well.
As parents our focus should not only be the matter of education in school but also the environment provided. When you put hormones, curiosity, testosterones and shaytaan together, it could well be a recipe for disaster.
A single-sex schooling system does not guarantee a good moral nature as well but the risk is quite low. Mixed schooling systems provide more opportunities for children to diverge in the wrong direction. With so much exposure through the Internet or television, children learn things that they should not in the early ages. Parents cannot always keep an eye on what their children are doing. Things learnt through such sources are bound to be applied by children practically as well.
I agree to the principal’s findings that mixed schooling system provides an environment where boys and girl focus more on impressing each other and getting popular rather than studies. There are more chances of them getting involved in illicit acts as the environment is allowing them.
Children do want to learn in mixed schools, they may be more fun. But children would also want to do things that are fun in the wrong sense. As parents and members of the Islamic society if we are allowing our children to study in mixed schooling system we have to make sure that our children understand the moral values of Islam.
Islam discourages intermingling of male and females unnecessarily. The concept of Hijab does not pertain only to females but also males. If females are asked to cover themselves, males are asked to acquire the hijab of eyes by lowering their gaze. So when intermingling or gatherings occur, both men and women have to adhere to the concept of hijab.
We may come across situations when there are no options of single sex schools like at university level. However, that is the point when a person is mature enough to understand the value of chastity.
It may be tempting for many to study in mixed schooling systems but just for once if people think about the logic to avoid such systems I’m sure they will come up with many. This is not a conservative approach to education but more of a proactive strategy in building character of the society.
Sadaf Siddique holds a degree in Computers and a Masters in Business Administration. She is the mother of a 2-year-old boy, a part-time writer and a full-time homemaker.