Pat Conroy Did It, and So Should You

Why are only nine percent of elementary school teachers men?  NPR discussed it today on “Talk of the Nation” with Boston Globe columnist Derrick Jackson, who wrote an interesting article on the subject here.  I can certainly understand one reason he mentioned: low wages.  I’ve seen that one up close, as my mom and BFF are both teachers.  However, the other deterrents he discussed really bummed me out.  Apparently, a lot of men shy away from teaching elementary school students because of “notions of masculinity, fears of being accused of sexual abuse, and even undercurrents of homophobia.”

That’s too bad.  My eight year-old twin sons have had several male teachers, and they each brought a fresh perspective to their educational experience that I really appreciated.  From their preschool teachers “Mr. Eric” and “Mr. Tony,” who worked in the local university daycare as student teachers and babysat for us on the weekends, to my son’s current third-grade teacher, “Mr. T.,” who will be his teacher for the rest of elementary school as his class loops through the next two grade levels with him, their male teachers have been a valuable addition to their educational and life experience.  They are able to relate to my boys in a way that many female teachers do not, and best of all, they smash gender stereotypes (which I hate) to bits.  My son loves being in Mr. T’s class, in part, because Mr. T. is “one of the guys,” and I’m more than okay with that.  While we certainly owe girls a lot in terms of educational equality, I think we’ve come a long way on paying that overdue debt, and it wouldn’t hurt to make sure that boys (and girls!) aren’t deprived of the male perspective during the biggest part of their day: school, which generally finds children awash in a sea of female teachers, staff, and administrators.

Let’s work on changing that, shall we?

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4 Responses to “Pat Conroy Did It, and So Should You”

  1. nadarine Says:

    “I pity the fool who doesn’t learn their multiplication tables!”

    Please, please tell me that Mr. T has some sort of homage to his namesake in his classroom, and is teaching your younguns the joys of the A-Team.

  2. notaclevername Says:

    I went through all of high school with only female teachers.

    My mom, a teacher, says one reason there aren’t many male elementary teachers (in addition to those listed) is that many men have this macho sense of achievement, so they need to teach the *hard* stuff, like physics and calculus. They can also be more subject-driven, than student-driven, so they’re drawn more to high school and middle school.

    Which is a shame, because my male fourth grade teacher was PHENOMENAL, to the point where a friend and I still refer back to him and hope we make him proud.

    He now teaches at my old middle school. Which, to be honest, may be a better fit.

  3. dorothyzbornak Says:

    I didn’t have a male teacher (that I can recall–the old memory gets fuzzier every day) until middle school (6th grade), and he was a P.E. teacher.

    As for the “notions of masculinity,” maybe I’m alone here, but meeting a dude and finding out he was an elementary school teacher would only up the sexy quotient for me.

  4. myrtlebeachbum Says:

    Nadarine, Mr. T. is, unfortunately, an older white guy whose only neckgear is a tie. But I still really love him. And I pity the fool who doesn’t!

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