Lin Wei, 27, one of a handful of male sixth-grade teachers at a primary school here, has made a habit of telling stories about warlords who threw witches into rivers and soldiers who outsmarted Japanese troops. “Men have special duties,” he said. “They have to be brave, protect women and take responsibility for wrongdoing.”On the other hand, the Society of Women Engineers sent some pamphlets to our school and asked us to hand them out. I refused, as their organization is sexist and exclusionary. I half-jokingly remarked that perhaps I wouldn't have as much antipathy towards such organizations if there were similar organizations that tried to recruit boys and men into nursing or elementary teaching. Reading the article above, though, I realize that I would have a problem with such organizations. Can only men teach boys? If "feminization" is the problem, shouldn't women teachers be taught how to be better teachers for boys?
Worried that a shortage of male teachers has produced a generation of timid, self-centered and effeminate boys, Chinese educators are working to reinforce traditional gender roles and values in the classroom.
In Zhengzhou, a city on the Yellow River, schools have asked boys to sign pledges to act like “real men.” In Shanghai, principals are trying boys-only classes with courses like martial arts, computer repair and physics. In Hangzhou, in eastern China, educators have started a summer camp called West Point Boys, complete with taekwondo classes and the motto, “We bring out the men in boys.”
Education officials across China are aggressively recruiting male teachers, as the Chinese news media warns of a need to “salvage masculinity in schools.” The call for more male-oriented education has prompted a broader debate about gender equality and social identity at a time when the country’s leaders are seeking to make the labor market more meritocratic.
It also reflects a general anxiety about boys in Chinese society. While boys outnumber girls as a result of the longstanding one-child policy and a cultural preference for sons, they consistently lag in academic performance. Some parents worry about their sons’ prospects in an uncertain economy, so they are putting their hopes in male role models who they believe impart lessons on assertiveness, courage and sacrifice.
The view that there is an overabundance of female teachers that has had a negative effect on boys has, perhaps predictably, led to a backlash. Parents have accused schools of propagating rigid concepts of masculinity and gender norms, and female educators have denounced efforts to attract more male teachers with lavish perks as sexist.
So many problems when we start imposing our own views on others.