By Noah Segal, SED 2017
You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth. That’s because the truth contradicts just about everything you probably learned growing up. Dads work long, late hours in office buildings that tower over the city streets, while moms cut fresh orange slices and pack the kids into the minivan for soccer practice, right? Wrong.
Although I am currently a Special Education major at Boston University, my ultimate goal is to work with early childhood aged children in some capacity. When I tell girls that they normally say something like, “Aw, that’s so cute!” However, guys generally elicit quite a different response. Mostly something like, “No, but seriously bro, what do you actually wanna do?” When I ask them what they mean while flashing a mockingly curious smile, most of the time I can see the discomfort of my confidence dripping and oozing from their mouth, ears, and nostrils as they try to wrap their heads around what they just heard. Generally, according to their logic, men are suppose to wear suits, carry a briefcase, make all the money, and hold all the power. But what could be more powerful than teaching a three-year-old on a frigid winter day how to zipper their coat, fasten their mittens and strap on their boots all by themselves? Or better yet, what could be more powerful than teaching a Kindergartener how to read for the first time? Knowledge is power, and those lessons are priceless. I’ll concede to the fact that I probably won’t be wearing a suit to work everyday, or be carrying a briefcase full of important documents to lengthy business meetings, but why would I want to get finger paint on my fresh J. Crew suit? Why would I want to shuffle through paper after paper during a (bored) meeting when I could be covering my classroom walls with the artwork of my students? No offense to your father, but my job sounds like a lot more fun.
Prior to transferring to BU this semester, I worked in a preschool for three years. The only men in the building other than myself were the two custodians. By the end of year three I couldn’t even keep track of how many times someone curiously and rudely stopped me in the hallway or kitchen to ask what I was doing there or if I could get them a mop. Currently, in my classes here at BU, the ratio of male to female students has to be something like 1:15, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that estimate was on the low side. So, where are all the men? I have only been at BU for about five weeks, but from my observations, many of the guys in SED are Secondary Education majors. I can’t recall the exact number of guys that I’ve met that are Early Childhood, Special Education, or Elementary Education majors, but I am certain that I could count them on one hand. In my opinion, there are two ways of looking at this situation. One way is to rationalize that the few guys who are pursuing careers in work related to young children happen to be incredibly passionate and committed to it despite the fact that it contradicts many American societal norms. The second way to view this issue is to understand that it takes an incredibly patient, empathetic, confident man to work with young children, and frankly, I don’t think most guys are man enough for the challenge.
So, do you still believe that men only belong in boardrooms but can’t lead circle time? Do you still think that wealth and power can only be quantified in dollars and cents rather than the number of tears dried, diapers changed, and lessons learned? If so, despite that being sad, it’s all right because you wouldn’t even make it to snack time at a preschool. However, for the few men who are capable, we find ourselves struggling to gain respect, trust, and admiration from those who refuse to denounce archaic gender stereotypes. So try to be flexible in your thinking because for as much a woman belongs in your father’s boardroom, a man belongs in your mother’s preschool classroom. Now that’s the truth, can you handle it?
Noah Segal is a sophomore in the School of Education, majoring in Special Education.