Male Teachers

by Tom Scott - December 6, 2004

Male Teachers - Context

I'd like to know if there was a context (besides the general societal one) for this cartoon. Was there some current issue in the community where this was published? Otherwise, gee, I just wish it was funnier. For example, I love that schools trust us with 25 five-year olds, but are afraid to let us "touch the copy machine" or don't trust teachers with keys to their classrooms during the summer. Now that's funny!!

Alan Guttman
Director, Child Development Program
Los Angeles, CA

Realistic Of Our Existence

While, I am sure that some readers may find this cartoon as "offensive" or "disturbing", I find it is unfortunately "realistic" of the situation that we face when we as males choose a career in early childhood education. As men, we need to face the fact that men's liberation has not progressed as far or as fast as women's liberation. Where men are concerned our society is still very much in the dark ages. Where it is now viewed as acceptable for women to be doctors, lawyers, judges, engineers and CEOs, men who choose to be nurturant - nurses or early childhood educators - are still looked at with suspicion or contempt. While many schools are saying they want more male teachers, they are just being politically correct and giving this lip service, When it comes to actually hiring a man, their suspicions of a man's true intention of wanting to work with young children will prevent him from being hired almost every time. They have an ideal image of a man they want to have in their school that few men who are interested in working with children can live up too. Don't get me wrong there are places and people truly open to hiring men who are passionate about a career in early childhood education, but one must be determined and persistent to find them as one is sure to encounter several close minded people on their journey. I know that I have.

Thomas W. Washburn
Full-Day Kindergarten Teacher
Early Childhood Professional Educator

Cartoon

To my mind this cartoon is an attempt at playing with the issue of gender, but the use of the word "safe" invokes (for me) a visceral response. As men, we are often suspect in terms of our motivation for teaching young children. The unspoken question for many parents is, "Is my child safe with this man?" As such, this cartoon moves from the ironic/satirical into the realm of the cynical with the use of that single word. I have no problem with a cartoonist playing with these issues, I just think that he confused issues and thus lost me as an engaged reader. The cartoon could have been funny or poignant or both; instead it left me a bit befuddled.

Eric Gidseg, Ph.D.
Kindergarten Teacher
Pleasant Valley, NY

Whiners and wimps

I'm sorry, I was under the impression that this site was entitled "MENteach.org." Judging by the hyper-sensitive whinings and laments of some posters, I'm beginning to wonder about the name's accuracy, however.
Men have an unspoken obligation to be the gender that "takes it on the chin" and keeps on going. Therein lies our strength as educators: persistence, endurance, and strength. If you find something mildly offensive, suck it up. If you don't want people to perceive male teachers as the pantywaists and pretty boys of education's yesteryear, then modify your behavior to reflect the fact that you are neither.
What's more, this cartoon is humorous as both a metaphor and a farce. Many male teachers, particularly those in all-female-teacher schools, feel the invisible "bars" of gender discrimination. In addition, the excessive "prison-like" appearance lends credibility to this cartoon, as the medium chosen is meant to be laughably dramatized. In this way, it succeeded.
If one is so easily upset by something as simple as a well-done comic, perhaps that individual should reconsider teaching altogether -- I can promise that this career will lend itself to personal insult and injury for those without a tough skin.

Disturbing, To Say the Least...

Bill North-Rudin
Elementary School
Teacher-in-Training

As a 50-year-old man on the verge of completing my M. Ed. and becoming an elementary school teacher, the cartoon is insulting, unrealistic and unfair. The last statistic I saw indicated that just under 10% of elementary school teachers are men, and many of the (female) teachers I have worked with assure me that the need for men is real and that I will be in great demand. The fact of the matter is that I am very comfortable with upper elementary students, both boys and girls, but CRINGE everytime I read another article about male teachers abusing their students. The cartoon promotes the myth that there must be something wrong with men who want to spend several hours a day, several days a week, with kids, and I take exception to its implications.

Not funny

He's drawn like an idiot, the cage a direct implication that the students must be protected from him. As a man who has been subject to sexism in hiring it is enough to make me want to quit. I get very nervous whenever a female student give me a 'drive by hug', wondering who may have seen it. It seems like the public lumps us with Catholic priests and pedophiles. No humor here!

Why so few men...

I can shed a little light on this I believe. Much of the decline and shortage of male teachers originated with Horace Mann and his idea that men were too disciplinarian. Women he proffered were less rational and were willing to work for about 1/3 the then going rate for school masters.
As I pursue a doctoral degree, I enjoy the learning, which is at the heart of education. There is much more to education than just becoming a teacher. That is just the beginning, albeit a great one, but no reason to sit on one's laurels when there is so much more to learn and apply. True, we male teachers are a rare breed in that most of us are in education to become professional teachers, not just as a means to bring in a second income that conveniently matches our kids' schedules. The time is now for men to begin to put the "pro" into the word professional and draw that line in the sand, then advancing forward with full purpose to do what we are good at...fixing things. Let's begin with education!!