The number of male teachers in New Zealand schools continues to decline at an alarming rate. In Jo Muir’s article, ‘Efforts to get more male teachers failing‘, she notes that only 16.5% of teachers in primary schools are male, and the numbers are still declining.
Many primary school students will go through their primary schooling without ever being taught by a male teacher. But why are the number of male teachers in primary classrooms continuing to fall? A variety of studies find that there are consistent stereotypes and barriers that have stopped many men entering the profession in the first place.
- Working in a predominantly female environment
- Fear of physical contact with children
How does this Geordie teacher feel about being a teacher in a primary classroom? Firstly, he LOVES his job. Yes, sometimes you miss some of the banter that you can have with other male colleagues, but I can have a good joke with many of my female colleagues, and many of them are excellent teachers too.
Many of my male friends think I must me mad working in a classroom, especially with the risk of being accused of doing something inappropriate. We have to remember such cases are very rare, and it’s important to ensure as a male teacher, in fact female too, that you work smartly by ensuring that you work in such a way that you can’t be accused of something inappropriate.
I can quite happily live with my salary, there are many opportunities for further study to earn more money or help with promotion. I studied while teaching full-time for my Masters in Teaching and Learning degree. However, improved salary wasn’t my primary motivator, improving my teaching skills in the classroom and to further my students’ learning was. And let’s not forget the extended breaks I have too, though my wife does always find ways of finding me things to do during these times.
Let’s not forget the importance of having males as positive role models. I see it far too often where children are living with no father in their daily lives. I often see the fall-out from boys that have lost their way, are very unhappy, and don’t feel like they can talk about it with their mum. This simmers inside and can explode in the classroom or playground. I know what it’s like, I was that kid too. I’m glad I had some very positive male teacher role models – we make a huge difference!
For sure, I’d like to see more males in primary schools, but for me, the most important factor is that we have quality teachers, irrespective of gender, helping lift student achievement.