Men, Leadership & Teaching

The social pressures that get in the way of men choosing teaching as a career

Three men I know chose to become teachers recently. To university, to secondary education and with young kids in primary education. For each of them teaching is a second career.

All faced versions of the inevitable questions:

  • “Teaching is a bit of an escape from the rat race isn’t it?”
  • “How will you earn enough to support a family?”

The social pressures behind those questions explain why men are increasingly absent from taking a real, hands-on lead in how education is delivered.
I don’t mean in policy-making, where some of the wrong ‘old’ men continue to cling to power, but at grass-roots level, actually directly influencing young minds.

Studies show that boys and young men are outperformed by girls and women at all levels of education and that these differences are reinforced by teachers’ expectations. The impact of low male educational achievement is a real ticking time-bomb in the west and continues to have a negative impact in the workplace and the dole queue. Education should have a balanced approach so that the needs of boys are better understood and better represented. And both boys and girls need men as positive role-models in the classroom.

Personally, I’m really proud to know those three men. Wouldn’t it be great if more were to follow their examples? And I’d love it if we would stop expecting men to prioritise earning-prowess above the choice of a career with meaning and soul.

And we need to pay teachers what they’re worth.

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