Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Minority Report

I've never been a minority before... in a big way I mean. Everyone feels like they are at times - I've been the only kid with asthma and allergies back in 4th grade, or that kid that lives in the country, even the kid with all 64 Crayolas. Not really much of a minority report, is it?

But in every class of teaching, I'm a minority.

Because I'm a man.

In one class last Saturday, I was it. In two more, there were two of us. Out of two dozen or so.

The number of men teachers has been dropping steadily for years. Right now it's less than 9% in elementary education and a bit more in secondary.

I don't get it. ABC did a study a couple years ago and listed these reasons why men shy away from teaching.

"The first reason is stereotypes. People believe men aren't nurturing. The second reason is fear of accusations of abuse. People are afraid men are going to harm children. And the third reason is low status, low pay," Brian Nelson of Menteach.org said.

So abandoning the profession - what has that done?

Left a hole.

"Children are no dummies," says Nelson. "When they see no men in a school, they get a message. And that message is that men don't care or men don't belong here."

Well I think they do. Men matter. The great female teachers I have met realize that too. One of them told me "we need more male teachers" this week although when I told her I wanted to teach 4th or 5th grade, she said (being a 5th grade teacher) "Well you can't have my job." LOL

I don't know how you change this, especially with the changes education is undergoing right now. While education used to be a profession appreciated by the average American, for whatever reason it doesn't seem to be so now. Whether it's about unions, tenure or whatever, I think America will return to appreciation for teachers. But the low starting salary and uncertain future may continue to make men shy away from choosing education as a career. That will be America's loss.

Men matter.

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