Academic journal article The Journal of Men's Studies

Race, Sexual Orientation, Culture and Male Teacher Role Models: "Will Any Teacher Do as Long as They Are Good?"

Academic journal article The Journal of Men's Studies

Race, Sexual Orientation, Culture and Male Teacher Role Models: "Will Any Teacher Do as Long as They Are Good?"

Article excerpt

The cry for more male teachers is not new. At various times over the past century, there have been peaks in professional and public discourse around the waning or disparity of male teachers in the classroom, that intensified in academic literature post-World War II (Coulter & Greig, 2008), and again in the 1990s. However, even since the 1990s, forums for discussion via technology and media have evolved, and now allow for increased and more spontaneous public debate. Recently, in a six-part Globe and Mail series entitled "Failing Boys," results from the provincial research project of which I am principal investigator--Tracing the Professional Journey of Male Primary-Junior Teachers in Ontario (Gosse, Parr, & Kristolaitis, 2010), (1) garnered front page national attention with the title, "The Endangered Male Teacher" (Abrahams, 2010b), and the revelation that 28/220 male teacher survey respondents, or 12.7 percent, had been falsely suspected of inappropriate contact with pupils; This news story explicitly linked the educational plight of boys to the lack of male role models, from fathers at home to teachers in schools. Within hours, readers had added an additional 390 related comments online. Building on public discussion during the series, a Globe and Mail online poll also asked readers to agree or disagree with the following statement--"The gender of a teacher makes no difference to learning outcomes for boys," with a staggering 10,502 total votes, and 31 percent (3217 votes) agreeing vs. 59 percent (7285 votes) disagreeing (Staff, October 18, 2010), becoming the most conclusive public opinion poll on the issue to date.

Furthermore, there continues to be alarm over the dwindling numbers of males in undergraduate degrees, where men in Canada account for only about 40% of the student population, similar to the United States (Finley, 2007). In 2006, about 56 percent of Canadian undergraduates were women (Laucius, 2009), according to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. In North America, the media has highlighted dwindling numbers of males in professional schools, such as education (Bennett, 2010; Bradley, 2011; Mitchell, 2004; Snyder, April 28, 2008), law, and medicine (Intini, 2010; Kent, 1998; Wente, 2003a). Scholarships designated for women only are at several times those designated for men, even in fields where men have been traditionally underrepresented, such as nursing and education, as well as in fields where women now dominate, such as medicine (Abrahams, 2010a). Furthermore, boys' high school drop out rates (Bouchard, St-Amant, & Gagnon, 2000; Hirschman, Pharris-Ciurej, & Willhoft, 2006), and literacy problems, are largely held to be greater than that of most girls (Abrahams, 2010c; Blom, 2007; Brown, 2003; Honey, 2001), even when factors such as socio-economic status are considered (Hoff Summers, 2000, 2007). This trend has resulted in increased debate around encouraging more men to become teachers, to ostensibly address such phenomena, and improve the sort of boys and men (Doyle, 2010; Drews, 2010; Gearson, 2010; Sleightholm, 2010; Staff, October 22, 2010; Todd, 2010).

In Ontario, and similarly in most areas of North America, men represent only one in ten primary/junior teachers, and fewer than one in three secondary teachers (Bernard, Hill, Falter, & Wilson, 2004). In Canada, according to Statistics Canada (Staff, 2008a), the total of full-time and part-time teachers stands at 108,267 male and 267,788 female; There is also a majority of female administrators in education nationwide with 29,015 total of whom 13,680 are male and 15,335 female. Likewise, reports from teacher organizations in British Columbia (Staff, 2007/08), Prince Edward Island (MacRae, 2008), and New Brunswick (Robichaud, 2008) confirm both a preponderance of female teachers and administrators. This is contrary to persistent yet erroneous popular beliefs and publications regarding male dominance in educational administration. …

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