Happy Families?

Soon I will be conducting interviews with alumni who attended Royal Holloway College and Bedford college during 1960s. What I would expect to interest me most about these interviews is the reactions of these students’ families to the announcement and implementation of co-ed study at the university. This can present a wider view of the change from single sex school and universities to co-ed programmes. It will mean covering both existing students and those who arrived as part of the first co-ed intake.

 

It would be reasonable to expect somewhat mixed feelings from those families who had sent their daughters to an all-girls college. It may after all have been one of the reasons that they decided upon the university and the arrival of men could have caused concern. It could also have been seen as a boon for university; experience of the opposite sex is after all an education in itself and, it could be argued, is a necessary preparation for Post-university life.

 

We must not forget that family is more than just parents. How did, say, older siblings feel who might have welcomed the same co-ed opportunity? Was their experience of education, a similar one? What then would families of new students have felt? One interesting aspect here is whether the parents of the new male students felt any trepidation about sending their children as part of the first intake of men? There could be no telling how warm their reception would be nor how they would fit into co-ed university life.

 

The growth of co-ed education affected not just the students but also everyone around them as well. A survey of the families of the Royal Holloway College and Bedford college alumni would be a good way to study the opinion of the families at the time.

Harry Blackett-Ord

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