We’re attending the 2011 World Forum Conference in Hawai’i where there is a large network of men and women that want more men to teach. It’s been an interesting gathering. I’ve realized that we have really moved a long way from when I first began working on this efforts. I see a depth of knowledge and expertise – a change – that we have the ability to advise communities – even countries – about how to recruit and retain men in teaching but also in male involvement.
And the ihteresting thing is that it’s not new. Working with children, although mostly an area exclusive to women, really has been something that fathers and men have been doing for generations. It often was divided along gender lines, but, there have always been a relationship been men and children. It’s just that now it is evolving – just as women’s relationship with work has been evolving.
I see women to work and men to children as the shift in society. It’s certainly still in process. Some cultures and countries still have restrictions for women and they have a comprable restriction for men around children.
In one of our workshops at the conference there was discussion that low wages is the key issue. And it’s true, pay is very important, but it’s not the essential issue. How we think about men and women’s roles is more the defining factor. Whether we value women and children. If we were to truly value women and also the work they do, then we would also value children. Pay is one way to show that value – but – even in occupations where women are paid more – there aren’t more men going into that profession. If you look at a unionized school disctrict’s elementary schools – you won’t find very many men – even though we pay elementary teachers the same pay as secondary school teachers with similar years of experience and education.
What can we do?
Recruit men and train them to be teachers. We want talented men and women to teach our children. We currently have numerous examples of what works. Later I’ll provide some links for some successful programs that have recruited men to teaching. This truly is a Global issue that has great implications for how we preceive gender roles in our society.