Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

University of Missouri-Columbia Launches Effort to Recruit Male Teachers

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

University of Missouri-Columbia Launches Effort to Recruit Male Teachers

Article excerpt

COLUMBIA, MO.

After nearly a decade as an elementary school teacher, Steven Cook is a natural. Off-key renditions of "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" to start the day? No problem. Reading circles and mystery meat-fueled lunch breaks? Piece of cake.

His 20 first-graders at West Boulevard Elementary School know that Mr. Cook is something special. He's also a rarity--the only male teacher in a building dominated by female authority figures.

Researchers have linked the shortage of male elementary school teachers--only 9 percent nationally, according to the National Education Association--to several negative effects, from lower test scores among young boys to the absence of male role models in areas other than sports and entertainment.

The recurring problem has prompted University of Missouri-Columbia education professor Dr. Roy F. Fox to create Men for Excellence in Elementary Teaching, a program he hopes will combine financial incentives with a mentoring network to steer more male teachers to the younger grades.

"I would be sitting at graduation ceremonies and our elementary school teachers would walk by receiving diplomas, one at a time, and I would say, 'Where are the men?'" says Fox, chairman of the College of Education's Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum.

"A lot of people reeognize it as a problem," he adds. "But there's almost complete inertia about it."

The problem is self-perpetuating, says Fox. When boys see few male teachers, they're less likely to consider teaching as a career. …

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