Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Stuck in the past

Why do we have a shortage of male primary school teachers? One of the reasons is low pay and status (something which forms a nasty feedback loop around feminised and ghettoised professions). Another is concerns about being accused of sexual abuse. But a third is the fact that many of our primary school principals are just plain old bigots:

Many primary school principals believe male primary teachers should be heterosexual, rugby-playing "real men" if they want to be good role models, new research has found.

One respondent in the study - being published in international journal Gender and Education - referred to the "limp" handshakes of two male teachers who appeared ineffectual and wussy when interviewing for jobs. In that case, strong females were hired instead.

So, perfectly qualified teachers are not being hired because they do not meet some archaic standard of manliness. What century are these people living in?

It makes even less sense when you consider the increasing diversity of New Zealand. The old cult of rugby, racing and beer no longer holds sway, and as study author Penni Cushman points out, not everyone will relate to a rugby-playing teacher because not everyone plays rugby. But again, it seems our primary school principals are firmly stuck in the past, and unable to cope with or reflect the modern New Zealand.