A YTN TV reporter recently examined the phenomenon of the shrinking number of men teaching in Korean elementary schools, and quotes a few women who worry that women teachers can’t control the kids, who furthermore are not learning about their correct gender roles.
[Anchor] These days it’s not easy to find a male elementary school teacher. It has finally gotten to the point where some schools have no male teachers at all. Seong Mun-gyu reports.
[Reporter] This school with, 860 students, has precisely one male teacher. That one is in charge of curricula, so there are 28 female homeroom teachers from first through sixth grade.
[Interview:Lee Chae-yun, sixth grader] “For six years I’ve never had a male homeroom teacher but I would like to try it at least one time.” For these students who cannot meet a male teacher, they want to have one during physical education classes.
[Interview:Jo Seong-beom, sixth grader] “If we had a male teacher I think physical education class would be more fun and we would do more.” As students age the need for a male teacher grows. The students grow larger and it becomes more difficult for female teachers to cope with them.
[Interview:Choi Mi-ae, mother of an elementary school student] “Obviously without male teachers students can’t learn about the gender roles of men and women.” Recently there was even an incident in which a sixth grader attacked a female teacher in Seoul.
[Interview:Hong Seok-yeong, teacher at Yangjeon Elementary in Seoul] “These days it’s now extremely difficult to properly guide students when they get to fifth grade. Female teachers are avoiding fifth and sixth graders. We have a lot of trouble at the start of a new school year when trying to decide how to assign homerooms.”
The number of female teachers has drastically increased since 1990. Making up just 29% of elementary school teachers in 1970, by 1990 they were over 50% and in 2006 they represented 70%. This year women comprised 86% of applicants to be elementary teachers in Seoul, continuing the feminization of the occupation.