There is a general conception that primary teaching is a female job; surely women are more caring and more suited to working with young children?
School is a very very important place for children. It not only educates them and gives them the skills and abilities needed for later life, but it is where they learn a vast majority of their social skills and begin to form opinions and beliefs. Teachers often become role models for children, and with such an uneven divide between female and male teachers a a large chunk of children will have a predominantly female role model in their time in Primary School. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a bad thing, however in my opinion a more mixed experience of having both male and female teachers would be more beneficial to the child.
On average 20% of teachers are male, with lots of schools having no male teachers among the staff. There are several possible reasons why this number is so low. One of the main contributing factors, I believe, is the stereotypes that exists with being a teacher and being a man. The fear of being labelled as something or someone that you are not, or looked upon differently than your colleagues because of your gender.
A few years ago when I began studying at college and people asked what I was studying, my response of Early Education and Childcare seemed to stun them. They’d suddenly go quiet and in some cases quickly divert the conversation. How was it so implausible that a man would want to study around and enter a career based in childcare? Unfortunately the dated stereotype that Primary Teaching is a vocation best suited to women still exists within some; who still believe that men have to go on to do traditionally “blokey” jobs such as be a builder or a plumber.
On my various school placements I was always made welcome, most of the staff commenting something along the lines of “it’s good to get a male student”. This initially baffled me. I assumed they’d all had male students before however this isn’t the case everywhere, as one school I was placed in had never had a male student before and it wasn’t the only one. The scale of the problem was becoming clear.
On my early years nursery placement we went on an outing which involved walking through town to the local park. This was nothing out of the ordinary, however the experience of the looks that some people were giving me as we walked was not pleasant. An 18 year old male walking with a group of twenty 2 year olds, holding one child’s hand as we crossed the road. I was being judged. If I were an 18 year old girl walking through town with the same group of children and the other staff would I have merited a second glance?
People’s attitudes won’t change unless we make them change. By showing them that men can do it too. Men can be positive role models and have a successful career in nurturing and teaching young people to become intelligent, respectful, caring, well rounded individuals.