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Sat 18th March 2006

All male teachers vulnerable to attack

Filed under: Boys / Youth / Education — JohnPotter @ 10:20 am

In a March 18th – 24th NZ Listener article titled “No Thanks, Sir“, education experts point out that the negative publicity surrounding MP David Benson-Pope is making education as a career even less attractive for men. Last year, primary schools employed only 445 new male teachers competed with 2312 new female teachers.

University of Auckland Education Faculty Dean Dr John Langley says:

“There seems to be this underlying assumption that as men we have to be saved from ourselves – that left to our own devices we will naturally lapse into licentious and sexually aggressive behaviour.

“That kind of thing is what male teachers fear – that if an accusation gets made, because they’re male, an assumption will be made that it [the incident] wasn’t harmless.

“I think it is something that is putting males of teaching – that notion that they’re males and their intentions in those situations will be construed as being sinister even when they are not. I think that has a very damaging impact.”

5 Responses to “All male teachers vulnerable to attack”

  1. Stephen says:

    Even though I have the prerequisit qualifications to teach in NZ primary and intermediate schools there’s no way on earth I’d do so. It’s simply not a smart move IMO.
    Aside from the long hours, shitty pay and huge taxes, there are too many folks looking to skewer male teachers on an accusation of abuse.
    Two standout experiences from my training practicums in Auckland schools in 2001 drive this home to me.
    In the first I was coaching gymnastics vaulting -over a high box using a trampette for take off. This was at the suggestion of my Supervisor who saw I was good at gymnastics.
    In a hall which comprised one whole wall of glass, constantly in full view of parents, other teachers, students and auxilliary staff I was sure no-one would misinterpret the necesarry support of a hand on a student’s back, another on thier stomach used to guide them as they somersaulted over the box. (This is how I was trained as a student in a Welsh Grammar school by a school master who was in his prime the Welsh gymnastics champion)

    WRONG!

    Some wally obviously voiced concern as next thing I knew the local Community Constable was mysteriously eyeballing me rather too studiously. He never said a word to me, and didn’t need too. It was obvious to me why he was there, and it wasn’t to brush up on gymnastics technique!

    A few months later and I was at a primary school assisting the teacher with certain lessons under very close supervision. In full view of many people I was occasionally showing my appreciation of students efforts in a manner I’m used to and still believe is fine, by ruffling hair or patting a shoulder whilst offering a ‘Well done! or ‘Good Job!’ comment.
    Again, this is something I’d personally experienced as a student.

    Next thing I know the class teacher is telling the class she’s placing a ‘post box’ in the corner of the class with slips of paper next to it. She’s instructing the students that she loves them very much, and if they have ‘any worries or problems’ they can write it down on a paper slip, post it to her and she’d respond.
    Again nothing overt was said to me, but it seemed perfectly clear that I was under suspicion.

    By contrast nothing like this has happened to me in almost 4 years of teaching in Korea. I’m safe to teach as a human being here, not some touchless automaton, which is what I believe I’d have to be to teach in NZ these days.
    Too bad.
    A lot of Kiwi kids are missing out onthe skills I could bring tothe job from years of pastoral care, social work and tutoring/training.

    Another point NZ folks may want to consideris this – there are allot of studies which suggest that combined non verbal forms of communicatoin such as facial expression, physical touch, gesture and sociometrics (measured physical distance between people) comprise about 70% of total communication between people.
    These very powerful and natural means of communication hard wired in over millenia get compromised by abuse hysteria.

    To put it bluntly I reckon in effect we’re teaching our kids to be communication dummies.

  2. Al D Rado says:

    If I were to teach, can I dress up in a father christmas outfit, and sit next to any unaccompanied children?

  3. Moose says:

    My dream was to be a Teacher. I am a natural teacher, and everyone I know has told me I should be one.

    To me, there is nothing more fullfilling and satisfying as imparting knowledge to our young ones, and seeing them learn and grow.

    Also my Brother is a good teacher as well, but for the exact reasons posted by John P, we have been wise enough to steer clear of teaching.

    I wouldn’t care how shitty the pay is, or how bad the taxes are, to me it would be the best job in the world.

    But I also don’t want to end up accused, in prison, or have my career ruined by some dopey parent who thinks that all Men are paedophiles.

  4. Samantha says:

    Hi there, I’m a student at the New Zealand Broadcasting School in Christchurch, researching a television documentary at the moment on exactly this topic. Any personal experiences/comments/research/anything which would be useful for the doco, please let me know via this post or via email sac626@student.cpit.ac.nz I’ve talked to several guys who have left teaching and they have really similar experiences to the ones in this forum… would love to hear from you!

  5. Mike says:

    Well how’s this for a change – I completed teacher training in 2006. Here we are, pretty much half way through 2007, and I cannot get a teaching job! A doco recently stated that some schools were actively seeking male teachers – where the hell are they??

    I love teaching! Some parents during practicum responded well to having a male teacher in their child’s class, others snobbed me off to be frank – could be a case of “student teacher sydrome”.

    I have sent out countless copies of my CV to NZ schools. About one month ago I dropped an email to an international school. The next thing I know I’ve been offered a job to teach in Russia! Why haven’t I taken up the offer you may ask, I’d only have to come back to NZ and hear/see the Kiwi education system in crisis yet again.

    Fingers crossed!

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