Teaching elementary or high school has never been a very popular career choice for men.
But the number of men choosing to teach in the 21st century is extraordinarily low.
Jan Sylvain-Champagne is one of the few men in the first year of a four-year teaching degree at McGill University.
Often he is the only man sitting in a classroom with 30 women.
“The immature side of me says it’s wonderful. But when I look at it more from my adult and teaching eyes, I’m saddened,” said Sylvain-Champagne.
Saddened because male teachers at the elementary level — where Sylvain-Champagne wants to teach — are few and far between.
Only 22 percent of teachers in Quebec are men — just 13 percent at the elementary level.
That number has been dropping for two decades and it’s at the point where some schools, like St. Edmunds in Beaconsfield, have not had a man on staff for years.
Norm Horner was one of the last men teaching at St. Edmunds.
“There were always one or two males on the staff when I was teaching,” said Horner.
“We had two male classroom teachers, two Phys. Ed teachers and our male principal.”
But like many men, Horner went on to teach high school, and then into administration.
“There were always other male elementary teachers coming in,” said Horner.
According to Jon Bradley of McGill’s education department, that has changed.
“At McGill, about five percent of our elementary teacher candidates are males, and I have classes here in which there are no males in the class,” Bradley said.
“They’ve left the elementary classroom. They’re not there anymore and they’re not being replaced.”
Parents like Wendy Murphy are noticing that something is missing.
“It would be nice to see at least one male teacher because I find the boys do like to have the male influence in the school,” said Murphy.
The lack of male teachers is leading to schools becoming more feminized.
Dave Mills went into education because his father and uncle worked in schools.
He’s now a social worker at Coronation school in Cote des Neiges and says the earlier boys have positive male role models, the better.
“A lot of boys are hungry for a positive male role model in their life,” said Mills.
“Having been a previous councillor in high school we would get them after their actions and behaviors are formed.”
Karim Kuperhause is the only male teacher at Coronation.
He also feels many of the boys in his class clearly need a strong male connection in their lives.
“To have a male role model is certainly a very positive influence, and to have it in a position of authority, because as a teacher I am an authority figure, that provides a little more impact for students,” said Kuperhause.