TWENTY YEARS OF COEDUCATION
(March, 1998, for 'The Lion'
Pitted together by ‘The Age’ last
October, Wesley’s David Loader and MLC’s Rosa Storelli jointly declared
the primacy of school quality over gender in a refreshing response to renewed
debate regarding coeducation. A pertinent touch of sibling school
Whilst research regarding the relative
value of coeducational and single-sex schools has swung to and fro from
time to time, I confess that, long ago, I drew back from attempting to
justify Wesley’s coeducational stance on such grounds.
It seemed that research could substantiate
For me, a good coeducational school
-- which Wesley strives to be -- brings to its young
people a priceless bond of friendship which makes no reference to, yet
is deeply enriched by, gender.
As I have watched as teacher, and
known as Wesley parent, the marvellous camaraderie and care shared by our
maturing youngsters as they have graduated through Senior College during
the last decade, I have rejoiced in the necessary stages of development
that brought them this lasting treasure.
On the threshold of adulthood, the
undulations, twists and turns and fast and slow lanes of their common journey
from childhood were reconciled as these young men and women prepared to
take the "open road" calling them from Wesley.
Seeing this phenomenon, suddenly
I understood the full significance of valuing and nurturing the unique
characteristics and aspirations of each of the girls and boys throughout
their Preparatory, Junior and Middle School days.
Very little had occurred, I came
to realise, that was insignificant in the growth of all of these students.
Their knowledge and understanding,
and, yes, even some wisdom, had grown out of the completeness of their
relationships. Differences, positively compounded by dual gender,
and empathetic tolerance had given rise to the students’ fuller appreciation
of the unsurpassed worth of each of their fellows. And this is to say nothing
of their similarities.
This sounds like Utopia! But,
of course, it wasn’t, and isn’t.
Partially met challenges remain,
despite our best endeavours -- teacher, student and parent!
Nonetheless, our efforts together
have brought forward, and will continue to do so, a large number of young
people who cherish their coeducational upbringing as a deep source of naturally
inclusive friendship which will stand them in good stead for their entire
This, I believe, is the great value
of our coeducation -- at not only a good school, but also,
dare it be said, The Best School of All.