Sunday, September 09, 2007

Male Teachers

Newsweek has an article about the fact that the number of men in the education field is dropping, especially in elementary schools. The article mentioned fears or accusations of homosexuality or molestation, and how some male teachers adjust to protect themselves from such claims.

Just when I thought the article was going to change gears and discuss something else, I caught this statement in the first sentence of the very next paragraph:

This summer, Indiana University offered a seminal course on men and education.


Is that someone's idea of a joke? Or is someone at Newsweek going to dismiss the double entendre as unintended and coincidental?

Not very classy.

18 comments:

Eric W. said...

I've had a lot of male teachers, at least at Rio. 3 Freshman year, 4 Sophomore year and 4 this year.

Darren said...

I'm afraid to ask: did any of them do anything of the type I mentioned in the post?

I didn't think so.

The absence of male teachers is acute at elementary schools.

Matthew K. Tabor said...

Darren,

The use of 'seminal' is perfectly appropriate here - especially given the context of the article. The word comes from seminarium, which is a seed; that's why words like "seminar" and "seminary" describe instances of giving knowledge that will grow or be applied later.

The Newsweek article describes a course that is a) new [seed]; b) part of a larger effort to expand the issue [growing] - seminal is quite appropriate and I don't think that a double entendre was intended. However, it's Newsweek, so they may have attempted a sophomoric joke that just happened to fit properly.

Darren said...

I'm quite aware of what seminal means--and I'm equally sure that the word was chosen specifically, as there are plenty of other words that could have used that would actually have fit the context better.

Carson said...

I have seven male teachers this year, and so far none have made any inappropriate advances. But thanks to this insightful article I'll watch my back, You know with my good looks and all....

Darren said...

You'll watch your back? Is that some kind of innuendo???

Don't worry, Carson, I don't think you have much to worry about :-) Uh, because you could probably beat up all your male teachers. Yeah, that's why.

Greg said...

About 20 years ago I worked as a teachers aide at an elementary school. I was hired mid-year, after two less qualified women quit because they couldn't handle the job. I was not rehired at the end of the year because the position was "eliminated" -- and the following August it was advertised in the local paper and given to a woman less qualified than I was. When I suggested that I might seek certification as an elementary teacher (I already had secondary certification, and took the job only because a family situation kept me in an area with only a limited number of job openings), I was actively discouraged by the all-female faculty at the school on the grounds on nebulous grounds that all essentially came back to "men don't belong in elementary education". One went so far as to tell me that she would write me a glowing letter of recommendation for any secondary position -- but nothing for elementary positions.

Why are there so few men in elementary education? Because of the active efforts of women educators who feel that elementary education is their exclusive preserve, and that any man who wants in is either an invader or a pervert.

Tony said...

I'd be curious to know what the numbers actually are. Have there ever been a lot of male teachers at the elementary school level? Just how big of a drop are we talking about?

Matthew K. Tabor said...

Darren,

I wasn't attempting to lecture you - just detailing why I think it was an appropriate fit. I thought it was important to note the seed/grow conditions. If the context didn't support both of those, I'd think it was a poor fit.

Which words do you think would fit better given the context? This is interesting discussion - if you hadn't pointed it out, I don't think I would've even noticed any irony with the word.

Matthew K. Tabor said...

Tony,

According to the NEA, we're at a nationwide 40yr low for the percentage of male teachers. Here in NY state, male teachers make up 9% of the elementary school teaching staff.

If anyone's interested, there's an organization devoted to addressing the needs of and encouraging males in teaching - it's called MenTeach. Lots of very interesting reading there on what I consider to be a fascinating subject.

The URL for their site is http://www.menteach.org .

Anonymous said...

There are 3 at the school my kids attend: one teaches second grade and the other two teach sixth grade. At the middle school that my kids will attend, there are about fifty-fifty men and women, and to go against tradition, most are not math and science teachers. Of 6 math teachers, only 2 are men. Of 6 science teachers, only 2 are men. In the social science dept. 5 of 6 are men, only 1 male English teacher, 2 of 4 pe teachers are male and 3 of 5 elective teachers are male (art, computers, band).

Darren said...

...a new course...
...an introductory course...
...a beginning course...
...an innovative course...

rightwingprof said...

I'll be a hundred bucks I know who offered that course. Let me look at the schedule of classes and check.

Yup, I was right.

Polski3 said...

Years ago (late 1960's) I had no male teachers in elem. school until grade 5-6, then I had male teachers both years. Of course, many more in jr. high and high school.

Males teaching at any grade level really have to mine their "P's and Q's".....look at the news reports, be the accused guilty or innocent, male teachers suspected of inappropriate actions against a students are hammered, as where female teachers, especially if they are on societies "better looking" end of the spectrum, seem to have few real legal consequences when they have dallied inappropriately with their students. Guys, beware !

Darren said...

Polski, you could not be correct. Remember what I wrote just a couple days ago? This commercial is considered "funny", not inappropriate.
http://rightontheleftcoast.blogspot.com/2007/09/disgusting.html

rightwingprof said...

I didn't have a male teacher in grade school until the sixth grade, when I got Mr. Danhaeffer. Mr. D always had a "cold" and consequently, was always pulling his flask of "cold medicine" out of his vest and nipping at it. I would estimate that about 25% of the day, he was snoring at the desk.

Ah, memories!

Anonymous said...

Just googling the information on the Newsweek article. I taught the "seminal" course at Indiana University. Seminal here works just fine in context, I think you have it wrong.

Darren said...

Perhaps, but if so, it's still an odd coincidence, given the subject matter.