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Co-education hurting boys


Mac Fingall

Co-education hurting boys

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I believe that if a study on co-education were to be done, it might reveal that there is a correlation between the integration of sexes in secondary schools and the decline in performance of the boys in secondary schools.
I have personally seen the boys’ pre-occupation with the girls. When I was teaching and coaching at  secondary school level, the presence of girls almost destroyed my track and field programme. The boys were shying away from competing because they did not want to lose in the presence of girls.
When I would search bags I would find a container marked “feelings” in the boys’ bags but hardly any books. This “feelings” was there to make sure they smelled good for the girls. Boys had stopped playing lunchtime cricket and football for fear of sweating which would present a great challenge to their “feelings”.
The teenager experiences sexual urges that are new to him and can be a distraction. I remember when I was a teenager, I used to hide a picture of a bikini-clad female in my scripture book and would periodically peep at it during class thereby not fully concentrating on my school work. My imagination, which was quite vivid, would run a marathon. I would be distracted mentally and physically.
Now, my distraction was due to creative imagery, but these teenage boys have the girl right next to them – in tight skirts, bulging blouses, and printed
 T-backs. They are in touching distance and they walk up and down the classroom in some sensuous way. They smile with them. Distraction now becomes an understatement.
Even big “hard-back” men working in offices have problems with their concentration in such circumstances. We often hear of bosses accosting secretaries. Sexual harassment is an extremely serious issue in the workplace.
Every time the topic of “co-education being a problem” arises, because it does not seriously affect the girls, women tend to say “it is not a problem”.
If one person in a marriage is unhappy with the marriage, the marriage has a problem. If in basketball, four players run the play right and one runs it incorrectly, the play is wrong. If co-education is not working for the boys, it is not working.
Another factor: a third-form boy finds it difficult to have a third-form girlfriend. This third-form girl is more mature and has a sixth-form boyfriend. The third-form boy, in order to show her that he can get a girlfriend, has to resort to a first-form girlfriend. This can be, and usually is, quite demoralizing for the third-form boy, especially when they go to the same school.
Those in authority seem reluctant to address the situation. I guess we have to wait until America or England say that it is not working in their country, before we have the “guts” to make the necessary changes to the benefit of this country.
It might benefit those countries from a historical perspective for it not to work, because of who eventually suffers. We must make decisions based on what affects us.
I know of many cases where boys are given a harsher punishment than girls for committing the same offence. This practice is seen, as it should be, by the boy as unfair. He usually reacts by not having confidence in that teacher. In some cases he even refuses to do work in that teacher’s class not realizing that he is only hurting himself.
Even the Cadet Corps has suffered for teenage boys are not attracted to this so-called military outfit where teenage girls are in charge. I think that the male teenager sees the Cadet Corps as “soft” just as we as teenagers used to see the Scouts. The male teenager likes to think of himself as “tough” and aspiring to be a real man.
When I entered The Lodge school as a student, the school’s roll was around 400 – all boys. The Lodge school Cadet Corps had three platoons plus the recruits totalling about 150 cadets. Now we can’t even raise a platoon and the recruits hardly go past the first year.
The Cadet Corps used to be seen as a precursor to the Defence Force – our Army. The army is supposed to be tough and manly. A mature adult might handle that “female in charge” scenario much better than the male teenager.
NB: Several studies have shown that boys worldwide suffer from not having a father figure in the home. Many of those incarcerated have that in common. Well for me, a father figure is also needed in the schools – hence more male teachers. A father figure is also needed in the Cadet Corp and Boy Scouts.
• Mac Fingall is an entertainer and retired secondary schoolteacher. Email [email protected]

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