by Michael Nowels - The Mirror

Perhaps those who are surprised think it strange for a man to be going into teaching young children. That is valid, as there are not many male teachers. But the idea that men are not as suited for teaching as women is a cop-out.

I find this notion similar to the expectation that female doctors are somehow inferior, despite going through all the same training that their male counterparts have seen. Even though both viewpoints are remarkably narrow-minded, they are shared, whether consciously or subconsciously, by many.

Because this is a school where two of the most popular majors are elementary education and nursing, it’s certainly understandable that the ratio of women to men is in the neighborhood of 2 to 1. My issue, though, is that people have to say “male nurse” when describing someone.

I will admit that when I walk into an elementary classroom, I expect the name on the board to start with “Ms.” or “Mrs.” more often than “Mr.,” but that would never cause me to treat someone differently. In fact, some people tell me they think it’s refreshing that a male is studying to be an elementary school teacher.

While I don’t wholly disagree, as I am biased, I think a teacher should be seen for his or her ability to help students learn and grow, as opposed to gender.  A male teacher could be a negative role model for his students if he is in it only for the paycheck (he also should probably find a summer job if he wants a big payout).

The reason I am excited to be a teacher is the chance to help kids grow not only as students, but also as people in general. Yes, grades and school knowledge are important. That’s how we all got to college. But it is not the most important thing children learn in elementary school.

What are the things you recall most about going to school as a child? The most memorable times almost certainly aren’t strictly academic. What good is knowing who the sixteenth president — Abraham Lincoln — is if you can’t share that with people or somehow relate it to your own world?

One of the best teachers I had in high school once told me,  “In teaching, you have two options — you can teach the curriculum or you can teach the students.” I hope that, whether male or female, my fellow future teachers choose the latter. I know that will be my goal.

— Michael Nowels is a sophomore elementary education major and weekly columnist for The Mirror.