The field of early childhood and elementary education usually displays a face of a woman, not of a man.
Men who choose to start a career in teaching sometimes find themselves the only ones in a school who conduct a class.
Daniel Carter, professor of education, said the field of education is dealing with a limited supply of men who have the personality to work with children.
“As a male teacher, our style, mannerisms are different,” he said. “Our uniqueness is what motivates children.”
Justin Gross, a junior elementary education and special education major, said he has embraced the idea of not having a lot of men in his field of work.
“I don’t mind myself, but for the future I’m worried about there not being a lot of male role models in elementary education,” he said. “The girls in my class have great potential, but I wish there were just more guys there.”
Carter said he wants to see more men in the classroom, but there might be certain factors why men turn away from the profession.
For his dissertation, Carter studied the factors that led men to choose elementary education, and what can be done to have more men consider the possibility of teaching in early childhood or elementary education.
“I interviewed 10 men in Illinois who had been teaching for less than five years, and I asked them a basic set of questions,” he said.
Carter said all of the men had a consistent answer on how to attract more men to the field of education.
“There was a universal consistency amongst their ideas,” he said. “Every single man, jokingly and others dead-serious said if you paid them more, others might consider being a teacher.”
Carter said some men still feel as if they need to be the breadwinner in the household.
“They ask if a career in teaching can do that for them,” he said.
Carter said the reason why most of the men chose to move onward in the field of education was because of the support they received from their fathers and other male role models in their lives.
“The biggest supporters for choosing their career was their fathers who were in manual labor,” he said. “My father was a construction worker and was glad to hear that I was going to be a teacher.”
When Carter began his college education, he declared science as a major.
“I was a science major and in my junior year in college I took an educational course,” he said. “I don’t know why I took it, but it intrigued me.”
Carter transferred to Eastern to major in elementary education.
“I acknowledged that I was good at it and it was a rewarding experience,” he said.
Carter said he has had single mothers who were happy that he was their child’s teacher.
“We are seen as positive role models,” he said.
Still, Carter understands why some men do not choose education as a career to expound upon.
“Some feel it is a woman’s job, because a woman is considered to be more of a natural care giving woman,” he said.
Gross said he feels that society instills a stigma in men when it comes to teaching in elementary education.
“For some reason many guys think the level is best for girls,” he said. “Obviously I disagree.”
Carter said others might feel the status of the respect they receive.
“Some men admitted when going to a party or out with friends that they wouldn’t hide the face of what they were doing, but wouldn’t brag about,” he said. “It is still kind of holds a stigma.”
Carter said he wants to go up to the local high schools and talk to young men about the possibility of teaching in elementary education.
“We want to, like, give them the ok, like it is ok to teach,” he said.
Carter said he worries that districts would start to hire men for the sake of hiring men.
“Just because you are a male in the classroom does not mean you are going to solve the problems,” he said.