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Coeducation at a German school

The term coeducation (formerly coeducation , from the Latin con = together + educare = to educate; once often community education ) generally denotes the common education of boys and girls.

In some countries, the expression is or was also used for the joint instruction of people of different ethnic origins (for example black and white in the USA , when " racial segregation " was still common in the southern states ) or members of different religious communities (see simultaneous school ) .

The opposite of co-education is gender-specific education , also known as seed education or mono -education .


Educational politicians in Germany questioned the up until then separate education system due to the social upheavals and introduced - depending on the region - between 1945 and the end of the 1960s the common education of boys and girls in the education system. Since then, gender segregation has only been limited to a few exceptions in secondary education (5th grade upwards).

Coeducational village school 1848
Jan Josef Horemans: boys' school in the 18th century
Girls' School, Die Gartenlaube 1888


Co-education has a long tradition . Up until the end of the 19th century , for practical reasons , lessons were given to girls and boys in the elementary schools , today's elementary schools . Since there was usually only one village school teacher, teaching children of all ages together was the rule. In older paintings you can often see that the boys are sitting in the rows of benches, the girls on the edge of the classroom: the girls were “also schooled”.

The secondary education was divided on: There were for boys high schools , upper secondary schools and real schools , the girl was the Lyceum reserved. The main focus of education in the Lyceum was on manual labor , housekeeping and religion . Here socialization towards femininity was considered a secret curriculum . Science , mathematics and Latin were taught only marginally, these subjects were considered too difficult for girls. In addition, until the middle of the 20th century, it was feared that too much education would damage the female being and that the actual task of women as housewives , spouses and mothers could take a back seat. With the completion of a lyceum, the young women did not acquire a higher education entrance qualification - therefore the name "Pudding-Abitur" has become natural for the high school diploma.

First half of the 20th century

Under pressure from the bourgeois women's movement (see also Hedwig Kettler , founder of the women's association “Reform”) and the youth movement around the turn of the century, the boys' high schools were able to open to girls at the beginning of the 20th century. Coeducation developed gradually in the Weimar Republic , but this was followed by some setbacks during the Nazi era . As a result of the expanded children's country deportation introduced during the Second World War , boys and girls were housed in separate camps and taught separately from each other. The gender segregation also corresponded to the ideological purpose of that time.

Second half of the 20th century

In the area of ​​the later GDR, co-education was introduced in 1945, but was not systematically implemented until the 1950s. The city council of Greater Berlin passed a law on Berlin school reform, which came into force on July 1, 1948 after approval by the Allied Command , and introduced co-education "unless the special nature of the teaching requires a separation of boys and girls", especially in the subject of sport in higher grades. In the Federal Republic of Germany it became the general type of school in the 1950s and 1960s. West Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen and Hesse made the start in the 1950s, followed by all the other federal states in the 1960s and 1970s. In Baden-Württemberg z. B. was introduced in 1966. In Austria, co-education was introduced in public schools in 1975.

Overall, this type of school received little attention from school research until the 1980s . With the “ New Women's Movement ”, equal opportunities for girls and boys in coeducation were discussed for the first time . It was found that girls generally perform better at school than boys of the same age. The only exception here are the natural sciences. There are large differences between boys and girls when it comes to the choice of subjects, for example for the course phase, and also when it comes to the subjects and career choices . Girls predominantly opt for helping, caring for, assisting and bringing up - boys for technical and commercial subjects or professions .

The future

The goal of equal opportunities for both sexes could at least not be achieved through co-education to the extent expected. In particular, the job ideas of boys and girls still reflect the traditional distribution of roles.

Recent research results raise doubts as to whether co-education - at least in the form actually implemented - is at all suitable for eliminating role models and thereby ensuring effective equality of opportunity. For example, in various studies B. Striking differences in behavior (girls in co-educational schools are clearly more risk-averse than boys, but girls in all-girls schools are not), performance (boys 'performance is only weaker than girls in co-educational schools), career aspirations (graduates from girls' schools opt more often for a male-dominated subject) and later income (graduates from single-elementary schools achieve higher incomes, but only if they are not married) (see e.g. University of Essex 2009, Illinois State University 2006).

Many results suggest that in the coeducational setting, there is greater pressure on adolescents to adapt to traditional gender roles. To counteract this, reflexive coeducation is propagated, in which the teachers should address the differences. This is intended to make the students aware of the mechanisms of their formation, which is intended to reduce the pressure to take on the roles.

Some schools also teach girls and boys temporarily separately, especially in subjects in which gender-specific performance or interests differ.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. See e.g. B. The pudding high school graduation . In: The time . No. 9/1954.
  2. ^ Neue Zeit , July 2, 1948, p. 3
  3. Catherine Raynal: The Development of Coeducation. 2000, on: (as of January 22, 2006)
  4. 50 years of Baden-Württemberg - 50 years of co-education - a school for boys and girls. Retrieved May 23, 2016 .
  5. cf. Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture: Education in Austria ( Memento from November 25, 2005 in the Internet Archive ) (Status: January 22, 2006)
  6. ^ University of Essex 2009
  7. ^ Illinois State University 2006