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.
An article published by the BBC caught my attention today, concerning pupils absences from school and the approach undertaken by one council to tackle it.
The “Get a grip” campaign was launched by East Sussex County Council which recently has faced significant backlash, and I can understand why.
The nature of the campaign can be encapsulated with one sentence “Good reasons for missing school – there are none”. This is alongside advice on “being more organised” the night before school.
In my opinion this alienates parents makes them feel like and come across as sub standard parents. The use of derogatory language will not motivate those who are guilty of not managing their child’s attendance effectively. Additionally, it could make the school and it’s staff appear more hostile and unapproachable.
It will also make parents who have always followed the rules and guidelines that the schools and local authorities set feel patronised, as if they are not being a proper parent who is not the one in control.
An overlooked issue by this campaign is those with dealing with serious and ongoing illnesses. Some children are unfortunate to have a long term health condition that makes everyday activities such as getting up and going to school considerably more difficult. This can be distressing enough for parents, and to then have a flyer sent through their door from the council telling them to “get a grip” on their child’s school attendance is far from helpful or constructive. Not the positive, friendly, approachable message we as future teachers are encouraged to promote.
One of the main issues I have with the council’s introduction of this campaign is that it contradicts one of their other guidelines; that parents should keep a child off school for 48 hours after a viral sickness bug. Parents are having to make a choice between the two guidelines. Which one are they going to break?
Don’t get me wrong I understand the reasoning behind the council’s campaign. Attendance within schools is carefully monitored and there are going to inevitably be some children in every school that have irregular and unexplained absences over the school year. However, to tarnish all parents with the same brush is not an appropriate way to deal with the issue.
In essence while this campaign is well principled and would work in theory practically this it is isolating to the child and parent and overall regressive for the future of teaching
Prior to the input I had a base understanding of the terms race and patriarchy, and would have grouped them alongside prejudice and discrimination. Race refers to the biological similarities and differences between people that differ to those deemed as the norm by society, and prejudice and discrimination refers to a person or group of people being treated differently based on preconceived opinions that aren’t reinforced by true fact, or characteristics about themselves that they are unable to control.
The presence of discrimination and prejudice based on a persons racial background is unfortunately still present in society today. Instances such as terrorist attacks can result in cohorts of people assigning responsibility to another group of people based on characteristics that are outwith their control (such as the colour of their skin or country of origin). I was aware that racial discrimination has always been present throughout history across the globe however after the input I was aware to a much greater extent the scale racism and patriarchy blighted society throughout history.
After the input I evaluated what had been covered and this combined it with my prior knowledge on the issue. It is something that is important to consider as a person going into the education profession. Ensuring that awareness and understanding is promoted and discussed in the classroom to prevent history both in past decades and present repeating itself