Friday, 12 August 2011
"So what do you and Angelica do over at the US military base?" my friend Brian once asked me as we were walking to work.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I mean, it's just you two and a bunch of guys, right? Like... so what do you do over there? Do you have orgies or something?"
To my mild surprise Brian was actually serious when he asked this question.
Angelica and I were English teachers in Seoul at a small academy. There were a handful of foreign teachers at the academy but Angelica and I were the only foreign women. One time, when we all at a bar together, Angelica and I received an invitation by a couple of US soldiers to visit them at the base. Our male companions were snubbed so Angelica and I went alone. Since then Angelica and I had visited the base a couple more times.
"No, we don't have orgies," I laughed, "We just sit around and talk."
"Seriously?" Brian looked at me skeptically.
Yes, seriously. When Angelica and I visited the soldiers in their barracks (which looked just like college dorm rooms to me) we would sit around with the guys and talk. We'd laugh, drink beer, play video games and just shoot the breeze with the guys. Certainly there was some flirtation involved as well but to all appearances the soldiers seemed really happy just to have a couple of girls to talk to. Being an enlisted man means living a rather grinding existence ... especially when it involved hanging out with a bunch of guys all day. Living without women was sort of like living without vegetables. At first it seems fun but after awhile you feel sort of anemic and psychologically exhausted. You start craving the company of women even if just to talk to. It was amazing how cheerful the enlisted guys became when Angelica and I just entered a room.
I told this to Brian. He didn't really believe me.
Half a decade later I thinking about school brochures and where I would send my son once he's ready to go to school. Money is tight so we'll probably just send him to public school. Still, in the event that we'll have more cash in three years (I will have my degree by then), I started wondering about what sort of school would be good for my son.
"Send him to a co-ed school," my mother said, "Single-sex environments are good for girls but bad for boys."
"Really?" my father said, "I read a study that said otherwise. In Florida they found out that boys in co-ed schools were only 37% proficient when taking the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test) and boys in single-sex schools were 86% proficient."
I read the link to the study ( http://www.singlesexschools.org/research-singlesexvscoed.htm) but was still undecided. I thought about how edgy and angry my male friends were when they had been placed in single-sex environments. I wasn't just thinking of the marines. In the US there are over ninety all-women colleges and only three all-men colleges. Men just don't like to be without women... not even in a purely social situation.
Also, is a single-sex environment good for preparing my son for the real world when he grows up? On the other hand, what good is a co-ed school in terms of social preparation if my son's education is dealt a bad blow as a result? I'm on the fence.
What do you think? Would you send your child to a single-sex school if you had the choice? Why or why not?