Am I A Teaching ‘Novelty’?

e3911b6d00c81bd61c24def921f827c3I was curious to read this recent piece in EducationNC from the perspective of a male teacher.  I fully expected to align with the arguments of the author (Douglas Price, a NC charter school educator), but I was surprised to find that I didn’t.

Price makes a couple of main points in his article, including that male teachers are critical to the success of students and that we need more male teachers.  As a member of this relatively small group, I would love to see more male teachers.  But, I don’t necessarily agree that our role is as critical as Price suggests.

Sure, there are data to back up the critical role that male role models play.  We know that male students especially need to see men in important careers in order to feel a sense of possibility.  We also know that men can be an important voice when it comes to demonstrating appropriate behavior.  But that’s not enough.

As a middle-aged white dude, my impact on kids has much more to do with getting them excited about science than about promoting “male-ness”.  The privilege that I enjoy gives me the ability to speak from a position that few of my male students enjoy.  As such, I feel that it is much more important that we focus on improving minority representation at the front of the classroom, rather than wasting resources trying to put more white men in positions of power for students to observe.

Novelty alone will not solve the problems that plague our country and its educational system.  We need low-income students to see a way out of their situation and that comes from seeing the diversity of our world on display in their classrooms.  Male teachers are not enough, and I think our efforts can be better spent elsewhere.

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