I had been planning to do this post in a couple of weeks, but chandni and Sporadic blogger brought it up today and that forces me to do a post immediately so here I go.
Why have I been thinking about this? The peapod is just 2 years and 4 months now, and I need not worry about her school for an another 2 years. But every time I meet a parent the conversation drifts to school. There are these schools perceived as the best in every area, lets say in a 10-15km radius. The one that happens to be in ours, is a girls school. Also the second best and the third best. So now I deliberately try to find out if there are any co-eds nearby.
I was in a co-ed right from kindergarten untill graduation. I think my concept of equality for gender comes in from there and probably also from the fact that I have no brothers. And I fiercely perceive the gender equality balance. Before you label me a blind feminist, I also accept that I might not be able to lift weights or change tyres like the boys, but I know where I can match and what I can out-do them. This acceptance of my strength and weaknesses, I believe comes from the fact that I have been among them.
Like chandni said, our school too had 2 posts for every administrative office, a head girl and a head boy, 2 vice captains and so on. But for anything that needs to be based on merit, you need to compete and be the best to get there. Which is similar to real life. I have been there, have worked after class with a whole lot of others on various projects or just dance practise or the drill or carol practise or cleaning the premises or whatever it is. We have also run pillar to post getting sponsorship for a funfest we organised when I was in the tenth to raise fund for the new school building. We have roamed the entire town of Billimora, a small town in Gujarat, on cycles, after school, getting into one shop or the other, begging for sponsorships. OK, Agreed the roaming was more for fun but then we got the sponsorships we needed and I am told the school building today is nothing close to anything we studied in. I hope to make it there someday with hubby and the peapod. During my 10th, we were a gang of 3-4 girls and 2-3 boys who used to study togather in each other's place. OK, the hidden agenda was only to eat the stuff the mom's made and push off. This is getting very nostalgic. Anyway, friends came home, boys and girls, spent time with the parents or sisters if I wasn't around and so on. In short we had no mental partition between boys and girls, they were all just friends with a name.
Co-ed boys and girls in my opinion learn early to accept each other just as fellow beings destined to share the space on earth. Friends who came in from a all-girls or all-boys were generally very reserved and shy with the other gender around. Also I believe a lot of unassisted sex education happens in all-girls/all-boys school from what you hear and see. I am not sure if I can vouch for all, but I don't remember a single instance of any such talks. Not that it was a tabboo but it just never came up as something interesting. While I am not against imparting sex education(which did not happen during our times), but kids should know only age-appropriate things. Sex is good to know about but not something they should be very interested or yapping away in school.
We have atleast 5 school-going kids in the apartment complex where I live. Boys and girls who go to all-girls school and all-boys school because like I told you that is the best school around. I have seen them all play and I don't see any kind of awkwardness. Having said all the above things I believe, I was actually very surprised. When I was talking about this to a colleague, she said that maybe its because families earlier used to create huge issues around the boys n girls thing and so it was imbibed in small minds. These days, families are more open about it and hence the kids are more comfortable. Good point.
While I would like a co-ed for the peapod, in all probability I might still have to send her to a all-girls school. Maybe she will have a different kind of fun and experience than I had. Maybe it is not a issue. You tell me.