The concern about boys not doing as well as girls in school is growing in Europe, and officials there worry whether the lack of male teachers in school could be a contributing factor. An article originally published in the Paris newspaper Le Figaro, found here, discusses the concern about there being “too many women teachers” in the French school system. While the French perspective described in this article dismissively suggests that women become teachers because it is a profession that “suits their way of living”, and advocates attracting men to the teaching profession “by offering a better salary”, the issue of whether boys benefit from having from male teachers is valid, and one which American educators are studying as well.
Back in 2006, an study published by Stanford University’s Hoover Institute concluded that gender matters when it comes to learning, as boys learn more from male teachers. This study, described in an article found here, has been hotly debated. While experts tend to agree that the quality of the teacher is more important than the gender, they also agree that male role models can be helpful to boys, especially in circumstances where there is no male presence in the home. In 2010, only 18 percent of elementary and middle school teachers in America were male, according to data compiled by www.menteach.org.
My sons have been taught by both men and women throughout their school years (one is in middle school, the other in high school). I have certainly seen them respond favorably to female teachers throughout these years. However, I have also seen the benefit of their having male teachers, who show them that it is important for guys to learn and care about subjects like poetry and music as well as math and science. While I certainly agree that the quality of the teacher trumps gender every time, from my vantage point a male teacher can in some instances more readily spark a boy’s interest in learning.
Readers, what do you think? Please take the time to leave a comment. In another post we will take a look at Black male teachers, their impact, and efforts to grow their numbers.
Special thanks to our Parisian correspondent, Albert Pettus, for focusing us on this issue today.
Carol Sutton Lewis