The Apple Of God's Eye

November 1, 2009

Male Teachers: An Increasingly Rare Breed!

1Something is seriously wrong in the field of education. Although it has a long list of perceived shortfalls with people, one thing largely overlooked is an unsettling trend: About 80 percent of America’s teachers are female. Similar trends exist in Britain, Australia and Canada.

To many, it would seem unlikely that a teacher’s gender would affect students academically. A recent study performed by Thomas S. Dee, an economist at Swarthmore College, indicates otherwise.

Dee discussed his findings in the fall issue of Education Next. “Learning from a teacher of the opposite gender has a detrimental effect on students’ academic progress,” he wrote. “My best estimate is that it lowers test scores for both boys and girls by approximately 4 percent of a standard deviation and has even larger effects on various measures of student engagement” (2006, No. 4).

Dee then highlighted the impact on America’s boys. “Adverse gender effects have an impact on both boys and girls, but that effect falls more heavily on the male half of the population in middle school, simply because most middle-school teachers are female” (ibid.).

Further on, Dee stated, “Similarly, these results suggest that part of boys’ relative propensity to be seen as disruptive in these grades is due to the gender interactions resulting from the preponderance of female teachers.” (Trumpet.com)

A study carried out for the Training and Development Agency in Britain, which is responsible for training teachers, said that boys performed better in education if they have a male teacher in their primary school. The study of more than 1,000 men revealed that almost half (48 per cent) cited male primary teachers as having the most impact on them during their school life. In addition, 35 per cent said male primary school teachers had challenged them to work harder at school (The Independent).

The firm presence of mature men as examples and role models of manhood and masculinity has a critical impact on the rounded development and maturity of all students, especially boys. Think back to the days of the brawny, athletically competent and physically strong gym teacher. He was instrumental in forming character, determination and stick-to-itiveness, as well as inspiring many teenage boys to emulate him in physical prowess and masculine traits.

“Male principals also seem to be heading the way of the dodo bird. In times past, this deep voiced man commanded the respect of even the most boisterous troublemaker. He also forged long friendships and his experience allowed him to be strong in authority, have the courage to confront adversity, and posses the ability to act decisively and forcefully when conditions warranted.

Now none of this means that male teachers are more important than female teachers to the education of children and teens. But it most assuredly points to the fact that it is wrong to dismiss men as being less important than female teachers. Rather than looking for fault, we have to understand the differences between the sexes. Male teachers provide leadership and education in areas that female teachers are generally weaker in, while female teachers excel in the areas that men are generally weaker in. A balanced education supplies young students with a healthy balance of both men and women.” (Trumpet.com)

Even as early as 1870, in the United States at least, teaching was largely a female-dominated profession. But the strong  father figure was a central tenet in the family home. Today however, the current 4:1 ratio of female to male teachers and the increasing numbers of children growing up in single parent families virtually assures that most children are missing out on strong male role models. Countless boys are now growing up with a narrow, media-designed, shallow definition of what they are to become, how they are to act, and what their role in society is. Misguided, feminized boys often mature into misguided, feminized men. Never before have we had such a drastic void of stable, masculine role models. (Indiana University Bloomington)

Sadly, it’s an inappropriate example of living in a democracy where we try to promote equality and fairness, egalitarian values in our schools. We’ve got these schools as an institution that are supposed to reproduce our culture and our values, but are extremely stratified based on gender. (Menteach.org)

And many parents are too busy to get to know the realities of the educational environments in which their children grow up, and are always looking for scapegoats in the figure of male teachers. “Abuse” allegation has now reached levels of downright hysteria, with some seeing a potential abuser in the person of every male teacher. This, in turn, makes even the most dedicated teacher bow out from the pressure, running from accusations that, even when unfounded, can ruin reputations and turn lives upside down. This is too bad as male teachers teachers help boys to provide a glimpse of potential for their own futures: a reason to work hard, to play fair, to demand respect from the world around them. It matters, too, for girls. If the first proper contact a girl has with men is as a teenager, when her hormones are raging, the consequences of her lack of experience of them are already too obvious. (Softpedia)

Never in history has there been such a drastic void of stable, masculine role models. It is a strong indication of Isaiah 3:12, which tells us that women will be leading men in our modern society, causing them to err. We need to ensure there are enough strong men in our schools to impact our children through their leadership examples.

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