Against the Grain – Being a Male Teacher

By Will English, SED 2016

“Teaching is a woman’s profession.”

It’s statements like this that define my career choice. The moment I tell someone about my major here at Boston University, they’re shocked to hear that I want to be a teacher, let alone an elementary school teacher.

Yet the more I think about it, all I can ask is, why? If society places such a heavy emphasis on education, then where are all the male teachers? MenTeach, a non-profit organization formed to promote an increase in the number of male teachers in U.S. public schools, conducted research and found that the percent of male teachers in elementary and middle school classrooms across the nation has hovered around 16% to 18% for the past 20 years. And while it is slightly more equal in secondary schools (42% of teachers being male), it is still an accepted notion that teaching is a woman’s job.

But what is it that turns men away from becoming a teacher? Is it the salary? Or the often harsh stereotypes that follow a male teacher? Or maybe it’s simply the fact that teachers have historically been women? It’s concerns like these that cause men to shy away from teaching, especially at the elementary school level, and create the burning need for more male teachers within our public school system.

While it can be tough to overcome these obstacles as a male teacher, it is important that we work towards a more equal distribution of male and female teachers. And it all starts at the university level, recruiting more men to go into the field of education and showing them the benefits that teaching can have on their own lives, as well as the lives of countless children.

For instance, we all know the stereotypes about elementary school boys (and I was one of them): they’re the trouble makers and class clowns who never want to be in school. But as a male teacher, I can show a young boy that it’s “cool” for a guy to be in the classroom and to work hard in school. Acting as a role model for these young boys can be the push they need to find success in school.

This is what makes being a teacher so rewarding. I teach because I love working with children. I love the big smile on every child’s face after that fantastic moment of discovery. I love knowing that I have the ability to make a difference in the lives of all my students. That’s why I teach; not just to foster the knowledge of young children, but because of the personal satisfaction I find knowing that I have made a difference.

All students deserve the best education possible, whether that comes from a man or a woman, and a good teacher can make all the difference. So regardless of how female dominated the education field is, I’ll keep going against the grain and doing what I love– teaching.

*Will English is a sophomore at Boston University School of Education studying elementary education.

2 Comments

Griffin Monahan posted on March 19, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Preach!

Joe Colombo posted on March 19, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Very well written Will. I am SED class of 2011, currently in my third year teaching the third grade and despite the demands of the job I have never once questioned my choice to transfer into SED to pursue my passion. I always knew I wanted to teach, but when I set off to BU everyone told me I was “too smart” to want to be a teacher. I enrolled undecided even though in my heart I always knew what I wanted to do. It took getting away from home and the perceptions of others for me to chase my dream. Now I get to live it everyday. Keep following yours and let me know if you ever have an extra itch to visit a classroom, SED students are always welcome in mine.

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