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Old 03-15-2005, 06:20 PM   #1
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Sexism in Education or In Search of a Few Good Men

Needed in class: a few good men

Lowly status, poor pay, and fear of lawsuits are pushing the numbers of male teachers in US classrooms to an all-time low.

By Jodi Helmer | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

John Yaeger is the first to admit that being a teacher is challenging. He spends his days attempting to teach the basics of spelling and grammar to students who are more interested in playing video games than learning. He also devotes part of his weekend to grading papers and planning lessons.
But hard work, long hours, and modest pay are not the only challenges that Mr. Yaeger faces as a teacher: As a man working in a female-dominated profession, he must also battle stereotypes.



SCOTT WALLACE - STAFF



"I have been asked to carry heavy boxes by female teachers and assigned to extra lunch duty and hall patrol because administrators think male teachers are better at dealing with disciplinary problems," says Yaeger, a special education teacher at P.S. 72 in the Bronx. "I also overhear a lot of teachers - smart, educated women who are great teachers - saying that there should be a man in the classroom to solve certain problems."

The assumption that male teachers can be counted on to administer discipline is just one of the gender-related biases that dog men in the profession.

"There is a sexism that accompanies the notion of men as teachers that needs to be challenged," says Bryan Nelson, founder of MenTeach, a nonprofit clearinghouse promoting the recruitment of male teachers.

Even when the stereotypes are positive, says Mr. Nelson, they can be damaging. "We are giving children the message that nurturing and teaching and education must not be important because there are no men around," he worries.

There seem to be fewer than ever these days. Just 21 percent of the nation's 3 million teachers are men, according to the National Education Association (NEA). Over the past two decades, the ratio of men to women in the classroom has steadily declined. Today it stands at a 40-year low.

"The teaching profession is definitely dominated by females," says Donald Washington, senior program analyst for the NEA.

The shortage of male teachers is most pronounced in elementary school, where men make up just 9 percent of teachers, but middle schools and high schools also suffer from a male-female imbalance.

Currently, in secondary schools, about 35 percent of teachers are men - the lowest level ever for the profession.

At P.S. 72, just five of the 70 teachers are men, and the numbers are similar in classrooms across the country.

Nelson is concerned about how the shortage of male teachers affects students.

"Children are missing out on different teaching approaches, alternative authority figures, and male role models because there are so few male teachers," he says. "Children are also getting a powerful message that teaching is something men just do not do."

Research conducted by MenTeach reveals three key reasons for the shortage of male teachers: low status and pay, the perception that teaching is "women's work," and the fear of accusation of child abuse.

"There is a lot more status associated with being a college professor than an elementary school teacher," Nelson says. "And if we started paying teachers what we pay NBA players, there would be a lot more men entering the field."

Nelson notes that the fear of accusation of abuse is another barrier to men entering the teaching profession. "I have had men tell me that they are not being hired or they can't get an interview because people think there is something wrong with a man who wants to work with children," Nelson says.

Yaeger acknowledges that the fear of being accused of improper conduct is something that most male teachers think about. "As a male teacher, especially in this day and age, you have to be a lot more conscious of your behavior," he says. "It is not something I necessarily worry about all the time, but I am aware of it."

Through MenTeach, Nelson is also working to eliminate the gender bias in education. "There are people who still say, 'It's so nice to have a man in the classroom,' " Nelson says. "But think about it: You wouldn't say, 'It's so nice to have an African-American in the classroom,' or 'It's great to have a Jew in the classroom.' It should be no different for men. We want teachers to be teachers and for gender not to be a factor, but until we get to that point, we have to do something about it."

Liberty Jones, a fourth-grade teacher at Maplewood Elementary in Portland, Ore., supports efforts to draw more men into the teaching profession. "It's important for the same reason it's important to see women in science and engineering," she says. "It helps break the societal stereotype."

Male teachers send an important message to students, says Ms. Jones. "In my experience, moms tend to be the ones staying home or helping kids out with their homework. Having a male teacher gives students a different perspective and shows that men care about education and learning too."

Increasing the number of male teachers may seem like the obvious solution, but Mr. Washington says it is not enough to train men to be teachers: The real challenge is keeping them in the classroom. "Fifty percent of all teachers leave the profession within the first five years," he says.

Once they are in the classroom, male teachers must also contend with powerful messages about their roles as educators. "There is a perception that if you are male and in the teaching profession, you should be an administrator," says Washington.

Nelson also believes that men are encouraged to pursue administrative positions instead of remaining in the classroom. "I have heard stories about male teachers getting slips of paper in their mailboxes advertising positions as principals and administrators that were not given to female teachers," he says. "Men are shuttled out of teaching and given the message that they can do bigger things."

Yaeger admits that he has been encouraged to pursue administrative roles but says his true passion is working with children. "I have thought about moving into a higher position but the higher up you get, the less contact you have with children," he says. "I got into this profession because I enjoy teaching children."

Organizations like MenTeach and the NEA say they are making strides in addressing the shortage of male teachers.

"[The] NEA has been examining the issue for more than two decades," says Washington. He notes that initiatives such as Call Me Mister, a program at Clemson University aimed at recruiting African-American men to the teaching profession, and others like it are improving the recruitment and retention of male teachers.

"We are slowly turning the tide," he says. "We are not yet where we want to be, but no one is giving up."

It's a complicated issue with no easy answers, says Washington. "Things are changing and improving, but we are not going to make a difference overnight."
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Old 03-15-2005, 06:56 PM   #2
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Dread, you are unique.

Over all, men tend to abdicate their education responsibilities.
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Old 03-15-2005, 07:01 PM   #3
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i'm a home schooler
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Old 03-15-2005, 07:22 PM   #4
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Those who can, do. Those who can't teach.

Not saying it's right, but this little homily seems to encapsulate a lot of issues with education in America.
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Old 03-15-2005, 07:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by speedracer
this little homily seems to encapsulate a lot of issues with education in America.
Would you expound on this a bit?
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Old 03-15-2005, 07:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by deep

Would you expound on this a bit?
I think at a lot of levels, teaching is incorrectly regarded as an activity that doesn't require a lot of aptitude -- it's regarded as something that anybody can do. This observation is particularly relevant to the thread because I think that men may be more inclined to feel this stigma than women.

I'm hesitant to say this, because I fear that I may be stepping on some toes here, but I also think that secondary schools don't value people with certain credentials (especially PhDs and people in hard sciences) as highly as they ought -- there's the perception that such people should be in research/industry and wouldn't be happy teaching. More generally, I think that backgrounds in certain fields are undervalued relative to backgrounds in education.
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Old 03-15-2005, 07:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by deep
i'm a home schooler
Really? We are considering this for our son.

If you don't mind, at what ages did you home school?
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Old 03-15-2005, 08:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


Really? We are considering this for our son.

If you don't mind, at what ages did you home school?
Maybe this is another thread but do you fear the social aspect of home schooling?
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Old 03-15-2005, 08:18 PM   #9
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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar


Maybe this is another thread but do you fear the social aspect of home schooling?
No, for two reasons.

1. He gets social time with sports

2. We've learned that many homeschooler network, so there is always interaction with other children.
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Old 03-15-2005, 08:49 PM   #10
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No, for two reasons.

1. He gets social time with sports

2. We've learned that many homeschooler network, so there is always interaction with other children.
Very cool. I think that's important. I have a problem with families that homeschool and don't have any means of social interaction.
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Old 03-15-2005, 09:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Really? We are considering this for our son.


I guess not really.






Bailey is a poor student.
But, she can learn.


I did spend 2004 with a 2nd and 4th grader from Newport El.
My last girlfriend had two sons.
I helped with a lot of homework.

My current girlfriend has a 4th grader in Irvine that just got into the GATE program.
Teachers have my respect. I think they are underpaid.
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Old 03-16-2005, 03:17 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by speedracer
Those who can, do. Those who can't teach.

Not saying it's right, but this little homily seems to encapsulate a lot of issues with education in America.
I htink it is a load of horseshit! But hey I am a teacher, so I would think it is a load of horseshit.
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Old 03-16-2005, 03:30 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by speedracer


I think at a lot of levels, teaching is incorrectly regarded as an activity that doesn't require a lot of aptitude -- it's regarded as something that anybody can do. This observation is particularly relevant to the thread because I think that men may be more inclined to feel this stigma than women.
I think that is changing. The standards for becoming a techer have risen in the last ten years since I became a teacher. Education Schools in Massachusetts are not allowing students into their programs unless they pass the communications and literacy portions on the teacher test first.

Many people have said to me, why do you want to become a principal when you are such a good teacher, you have a calling for it, ect.....

Here is the big reason I feel males in particular are not going into the profession of teaching. Money. If we are to look at the traditional role of the male in the household, bringing home the pay is a big part of it. In today's society, if we look at the income roles of the past 50 years or so, women bring home the suplemental income, while the male brings home the primary income. This is changing, but I do believe there are gender roles here.

When we negotiate a contract, there is a HUGE difference in perception of the contract from the high school and middle school because there are MALES there. They want a larger raise, where in this profession, in which there are many older females down in the elementary school, due to past Gender roles, the income is not the primary source of income, so they are willing to settle for less of a raise.

Teachers have been their own worst enemy, treating their income as a secondary source.

I am sitting here with well over 30 credits beyond my Master's Degree and I am just making around $50,000. I cannot afford to but the home I live in today because the market is such that the home I purchased eight years ago has now more than doubled to around $330,000. It is not a castle. It is a tiny, three bedroom ranch.

Please note I am not complaining. I am making the case for why MALES are not going into the profession. I think as states increase the demands on colleges to produce quality teachers, the profession will not be looked on in light of the comment in this thread.



Quote:
Originally posted by speedracer
I'm hesitant to say this, because I fear that I may be stepping on some toes here, but I also think that secondary schools don't value people with certain credentials (especially PhDs and people in hard sciences) as highly as they ought -- there's the perception that such people should be in research/industry and wouldn't be happy teaching. More generally, I think that backgrounds in certain fields are undervalued relative to backgrounds in education.
I am not sure that people with PHD's belong in the field of teching any more than people without. You have to have a certain type of personality to teach to children. PHD does not make one qulaified, it may in a content area or subject matter, but there are more skills than knowledge in a content are that make one qualified to teach.
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