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  1. 1. DOUGLAS GOSSEa Race, Sexual Orientation, Culture and Male Teacher Role Models: “Will Any Teacher Do as Long as They Are Good?” There is a perceived shortage of males in education provincially and nation- ally in Canada, particularly at the elementary level. My theoretical frame- work derives from queer theory, questioning the fluidity of discourse and identities, and troubling accepted, commonplace beliefs, knowledge, and prac- tices. To this end, I interpret data from an online survey of 223 male pri- mary/junior schoolteachers in Ontario. In this paper, I address male primary-junior teachers as role models in relation to race, sexual orientation, and culture, regarding two popular ideologies. The first is that of good teach- ers who can supposedly teach all pupils regardless of their own identity mark- ers and sense of agency, or those of their pupils and larger communities. The second reflects notions of diversity to offset hegemonic male gender expecta- tions, and to better reflect diversity in the broader school and social popula- tions, while counterbalancing the overwhelming numbers of female role models in school, and at home, for children. Keywords: primary—junior education, role model, intersectional identity, an- drogenophobia, Pygmalion Effect The cry for more male teachers is not new. At various times over the past century,there have been peaks in professional and public discourse around the waning or dis-parity of male teachers in the classroom, that intensified in academic literature post-World War II (Coulter & Greig, 2008), and again in the 1990s. However, even since the1990s, forums for discussion via technology and media have evolved, and now allowfor increased and more spontaneous public debate. Recently, in a six-part Globe andMail series entitled “Failing Boys,” results from the provincial research project of whichI am principal investigator—Tracing the Professional Journey of Male Primary-Ju-a Schulich School of Education, Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario, Canada.An earlier version of the paper was presented at the Edge Conference 2009, Inspiration and Innovation inTeaching and Teacher Education, St. John’s, NL.Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to Douglas Gosse, PhD, Director, Northern CanadianCentre for Research in Education & the Arts (NORCCREA), Schulich School of Education, Office H120,Nipissing University, 100 College Drive, Box 5002, North Bay, ON, Canada P1B 8L7. Email: dou-glasg@nipissingu.ca The Journal of Men’s Studies, Vol. 19, No. 2, Spring 2011, 116-137. © 2011 by the Men’s Studies Press, LLC. All rights reserved. http://www.mensstudies.com jms.1902.116/$15.00 • DOI: 10.3149/jms.1902.116 • ISSN/1060-8265 • e-ISSN/1933-0251 116
  2. 2. MALE TEACHER ROLE MODELSnior Teachers in Ontario (Gosse, Parr, & Kristolaitis, 2010),1 garnered front page na-tional attention with the title, “The Endangered Male Teacher” (Abrahams, 2010b),and the revelation that 28/220 male teacher survey respondents, or 12.7 percent, hadbeen falsely suspected of inappropriate contact with pupils; This news story explicitlylinked the educational plight of boys to the lack of male role models, from fathers athome to teachers in schools. Within hours, readers had added an additional 390 relatedcomments online. Building on public discussion during the series, a Globe and Mail on-line poll also asked readers to agree or disagree with the following statement—“Thegender of a teacher makes no difference to learning outcomes for boys,” with a stag-gering 10,502 total votes, and 31 percent (3217 votes) agreeing vs. 59 percent (7285votes) disagreeing (Staff, October 18, 2010), becoming the most conclusive publicopinion poll on the issue to date. Furthermore, there continues to be alarm over the dwindling numbers of males inundergraduate degrees, where men in Canada account for only about 40% of the stu-dent population, similar to the United States (Finley, 2007). In 2006, about 56 percentof Canadian undergraduates were women (Laucius, 2009), according to the Associationof Universities and Colleges of Canada. In North America, the media has highlighteddwindling numbers of males in professional schools, such as education (Bennett, 2010;Bradley, 2011; Mitchell, 2004; Snyder, April 28, 2008), law, and medicine (Intini, 2010;Kent, 1998; Wente, 2003a). Scholarships designated for women only are at severaltimes those designated for men, even in fields where men have been traditionally under-represented, such as nursing and education, as well as in fields where women now dom-inate, such as medicine (Abrahams, 2010a). Furthermore, boys’ high school drop outrates (Bouchard, St-Amant, & Gagnon, 2000; Hirschman, Pharris-Ciurej, & Willhoft,2006), and literacy problems, are largely held to be greater than that of most girls (Abra-hams, 2010c; Blom, 2007; Brown, 2003; Honey, 2001), even when factors such associo-economic status are considered (Hoff Summers, 2000, 2007). This trend has re-sulted in increased debate around encouraging more men to become teachers, to os-tensibly address such phenomena, and improve the sort of boys and men (Doyle, 2010;Drews, 2010; Gearson, 2010; Sleightholm, 2010; Staff, October 22, 2010; Todd, 2010). In Ontario, and similarly in most areas of North America, men represent only one inten primary/junior teachers, and fewer than one in three secondary teachers (Bernard,Hill, Falter, & Wilson, 2004). In Canada, according to Statistics Canada (Staff, 2008a),the total of full-time and part-time teachers stands at 108,267 male and 267,788 fe-male; There is also a majority of female administrators in education nationwide with29,015 total of whom 13,680 are male and 15,335 female. Likewise, reports from 1 Tracing the Professional Journey of Male Primary-Junior Teachers in Ontario is supportedby the Northern Canadian Centre for Research in Education & the Arts (NORCCREA) at Nipiss-ing University, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), and the ElementaryTeachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) with Douglas Gosse—principal investigator, co-inves-tigator—Michael Parr, and research assistants Johanna Kristolaitis. Taralyn Parr, Ashley Parr,and Brendan Dillon. 117
  3. 3. GOSSEteacher organizations in British Columbia (Staff, 2007/08), Prince Edward Island(MacRae, 2008), and New Brunswick (Robichaud, 2008) confirm both a preponderanceof female teachers and administrators. This is contrary to persistent yet erroneous pop-ular beliefs and publications regarding male dominance in educational administration.Consult, for instance, Coulter and McNay (1995), who base their assertions about malepatriarchal administrative dominance in education on research from the 1980s, includ-ing Women and men in education: A national survey of gender distribution in schoolsystems (Rees, 1990), as does Martino (2008) citing Teachers: The culture and politicsof work (Lawn & Grace, 1987), and an English context, thereby selectively ignoringcurrent data that decries the implications of the lack of male teachers in England asrole models for boys; In England, the number of male school teachers is running at ahistoric low of 13 percent in primary schools, and 41 percent in secondary schools,with more than a quarter of primary schools not having a single male teacher, and nearly5000 staffrooms populated solely by women (Clark, July 13, 2009). Furthermore, re-search on men’s experiences in teaching is often framed in a discourse of “backlash”against women’s progress and equity (Martino, 2008), and encapsulated in a supposed“myth” of the boy crisis (von Drehle, July 26, 2007). Such rhetoric may be seen as anattempt to silence research on boys and men, and maintain problematic yet widespreadtheories of patriarchal hegemony, that permeate every aspect of society from mediaand popular culture to our educational, medical, and legal systems. Ultimately, there ispassionate disagreement over the issue of engaging more male teachers. The debate around male teachers tends to take two major camps: the first followsthis line of reasoning, as related by a male teacher survey respondent, “Some boyscould benefit from having male role models … but I’m also a firm believer that anychild can succeed in a classroom regardless of the teachers gender, ethnicity, etc. It’sabout getting your students interested and teaching to those interests.” In this case, thebelief is that good teachers should be equipped to teach all students, despite mitigatingfactors such as race, class, gender, etc., whether their own or that of their students. Sim-ilarly, Coulter and Creig (2008) quote Wells from the 19th century (1891), to support herthesis that a good teacher should be able to teach all students regardless of gender: Wells argued that the “the whole question” of teaching was “one of character and ability, not of sex.” The solution to the debate about the man and woman question in teaching was this: “Let the most competent teachers be appointed to all positions, whether men or women” (Wells, 1891, p. 508). In the nine- teenth-century Wells recognized that a good education was the result of mean- ingful content, carefully selected and supported by the thoughtful pedagogy of a socially responsible and ethical teacher who might be male, could be fe- male. I contend that this belief downplays the considerable effects and limitations that in-tersectional identities, and exposure to and embracing of diversity, play in education,and in a pluralistic and diverse Ontarian and Canadian society. Correspondingly, thesecond camp is exemplified by the following survey respondent quotes, “All children 118
  4. 4. MALE TEACHER ROLE MODELSbenefit from a balance of male and female role models as leaders and professionals,”and, “There are many students lacking a significant positive role model outside ofschool so having a good mixture of genders as well as other forms of diverse repre-sentation in the teaching staff is beneficial.” In this case, male teacher role modelsemerge as important to create a gender balance, along with other identity markers, inorder to better represent and reflect diversity in education, and broader Ontarian andCanadian society. In this paper, I explain my theoretical and methodological approaches, and then delveinto findings on male teacher role models according to (1) race, (2) sexual orientation,and (3) culture, in order to problematize the dualistic popular stances that generic goodteachers should be able to teach everyone effectively, and what I view as a morecounter-hegemonic, pluralistic, and academically sound view, that recruiting and re-taining more male teachers would foster diversity, thereby reflecting broader socialpopulations in Ontario, Canada, and beyond, and permitting alternate possibilities thatchallenge hegemonic gender and teacher stereotypes, in addition to fostering a more eq-uitable, and secure workplace, for many male teachers. THEORY Queer theory can be a novel approach for scholars, researchers, educators, and ac-tivists to critically think about how bodies negotiate themselves using their identitiesin cultural spaces (Ruffolo, 2008). Queer as a verb is at the core of my poststructural-ist theoretical approach, and entails a way of reading and interpreting with two majortenets: (1) examining what knowledge is being accepted and endorsed as “natural,”normal,” or “good” and, (2) reflexive inquiry through the lens of sexuality into socialphenomena, interactions, and institutions (Gosse, 2006). That a generic good teacherof any gender, or race, class, sexual orientation, class, ability, geographical location, andlanguage and culture, may be sufficiently equipped to effectively teach all studentsserves to reinstate the status quo, that is, the prevalence of able-bodied, white, middle-class women in education, both as teachers and administrators. In particular, the ques-tioning and deconstructing of commonplace, widely accepted beliefs around maleteacher role models are central to this paper. A theoretical paradox I encounter is in my optimism for a society in which genderwould play less, if any, significant role in the future, but for the time being, I must ac-knowledge the stringently gendered field of education, even as I attempt to show itscracks and shortcomings. According to Sondergaard (2002), poststructuralism offers thepossibility for researchers to examine the constitution of social practices, cultural pat-terns, and subjectivation, which may lead to ruptures. Ruptures in my research are mo-ments where interlocutors may feel disarmed, shocked, alienated, or even outraged attimes, but ultimately this may lead them/us to rethink common practices, customs,and/or beliefs. I explore how widespread, accepted misandric knowledge and beliefs areconstructed and upheld, and I ultimately solicit questionings, so that the status quo maybe destabilized. Therefore, I examine how subordinate male primary/junior teachersnavigate though a female-dominated field as role models and, in particular, the inter- 119
  5. 5. GOSSEconnectedness of race, sexual orientation, culture, and gender will emerge in this paperwithin the two camps of (1) a good teacher who is supposedly able to teach all equi-tably, regardless of identity markers, and the preponderance of white, middle-class, fe-male teachers, and administrators, in education in Ontario, and (2) an approachembracing diversity among teacher role models, that would call for more males in theprofession, and other minorities. METHODOLOGY In the provincial study of which I am principal investigator, Tracing the ProfessionalJourney of Male Primary-Junior Teachers in Ontario, I seek to explore the experiencesof male primary teachers to add to understanding and awareness of some of the social,political, institutional, and structural variables that influence male teachers’ decision toenter, remain in, and/or leave teaching. A position as a primary or junior educator isstrongly associated with women, and maintained as a field privileging women in nu-merous explicit and implicit ways, one of the strongest being prevalent fears sur-rounding male sexualities (Gosse, 2011a). The initial phase of inquiry for this provincialstudy involved the collection of data from an online survey sent to several hundredmale Elementary Federation of Ontario (ETFO) members, all of whom are certifiedPrimary/Junior teachers, and 223 responded. Of the total number of respondents, 94 per-cent chose to respond in English, and 6 percent in French. While all are certified pri-mary-junior teachers, 54.9 percent currently teach K-3, while 65.4 percent currentlyteach grades 4-6, since some teach multiple grades in visual arts, physical education,special education-resource teacher, literacy, information technology, rotary science,and behavioral classes, for instance. Regarding age, 9.7 percent are 20-29, 38.7 percentare 30-39, 29.5 percent are 40-49, 19.8 percent are 50-59, and 2.3 percent are over 60.Regarding how long respondents have been in the field of education, 20.3 percent havebeen teaching for 1-5 years, 28.6 percent for 6-10 years, 33.6 percent for 21-30 years,and 4.1 percent for more than 31 years. Vis-à-vis the highest level of education attained,the majority of respondents, 69 percent are at the bachelor level, with 22.2 percent hav-ing earned a master’s degree, and 0.5 percent a doctorate. Another 8.3 percent indicate“other” in their educational credentials, such as Ontario specialist courses in drama,English as a second language, and special education, or principal qualification courses.In Ontario, the primary junior grades extend from K-6, or approximately ages 4-11.We also conducted a series of two interviews each with nine core participants at dif-ferent stages in their careers—three beginning, three mid-career, and three senior, aswell as in-class observations, and related document analysis from teacher organiza-tions and school boards. In a primary/junior context, survey respondents were asked to comment on their mainreasons for becoming teachers, whether they felt that male and female teachers hadany unique qualities, if there were any groups they felt benefited from have a maleteacher, hiring practices, their understanding of public and media views of male teach-ers, and advantages and disadvantages of being male teachers. Participants were ableto add comments in text boxes, and this is what I thematically analyze (Atkinson, Cof- 120
  6. 6. MALE TEACHER ROLE MODELSfey, & Delamont, 2003; Ryan & Bernard, 2000, pp. 780-785), looking for patterns thatemerge in discourse. For this paper, I choose to primarily analyze the several hundredquotes, filling thirty-five pages, which directly list the term “role model.” While thereare many others that implicitly make links to the concept of being a “role model,” theyare not the focus of this analysis, given the profusion of responses that do explicitlyrefer to the keyword “role model,” thereby already providing rich commentary and de-scription. In the forthcoming comments from survey participants, I signal that these are care-ful selections that embody major themes. In other words, I could have used additionalquotations to illustrate dominant themes, but have selected these as representative. Asa primarily qualitative researcher, I attempt to capture glimpses into our participants’realities, and to respectfully capture their voices. My readings of their words and theconditional statements that follow are not generalizable, but do form a set of hypothe-ses and concepts that I, and other researchers, may analyze and interpret (Charmaz,2000). I recognize the subjectivity in my approach, and indeed in all research. My in-tent is to tell a critical narrative about male primary teachers as role models, and theirgendered interplay with race, sexual orientation, and culture, to generate further dis-cussion. There was a mountain of comments regarding gender and teaching styles thatexplicitly use the keyword “role model” that will be alluded to here, as well, but hasbeen more fully treated in a separate paper (Gosse, 2011a) and report (Gosse, et al.,2010).2 In keeping with my queer theoretical perspective, and exploring knowledgethat is frequently invisible or marginalized, I explore the three areas of (1) race, (2)sexual orientation, and (3) culture that were less present in the data, but nonethelessprovocative. FINDINGSRace The majority of English-speaking, first-wave feminists were not only ethnocentric butalso racist (Valverde, 1992). This lingered into the 1980s, and led to an exclusion ofwomen of color, Native women, and immigrant women from a movement claimed tobe based on gender. While the majority of teachers in Ontario and Canada is white andfemale, among the male minority, I also remark that a majority appears to be white. Itis interesting that there is a social cry for more male teachers, but less so for more vis-ible minorities or disabled teachers, for example, to reflect better the popular ideologyof diversity or diversification. Similarly, much academic literature in the field of maleelementary teachers focuses on gender but unduly highlights negative possible experi-ences and effects on women, as opposed to men; as well, although race and class issuesdo sometimes emerge, men are misandrously treated as though they were a largely ho-mogeneous and hegemonic group (see for example, Ashcraft & Sevier, 2006; Coulter& Grieg, 2008; and Martino, 2008). Nathanson and Young (2001) assert that ideological feminism presents all issues fromthe point of view of women and, in the process, explicitly or implicitly attacks men asa class. They argue that ideological feminism is silently reshaping law, public policy, 121
  7. 7. GOSSEeducation, and journalism. While I acknowledge the positive impacts feminist activistshave had, and continue to have, on social issues, as do many queer and black activists,ideological feminism, on the other hand, is reductionist and infused with essentialistdogma toward boys and men, even as paradoxically many ideological feminists chal-lenge essentialist views of girls and women. This fits with an enduring ideological fem-inist propensity for attacking the malevolent, privileged, able bodied, white,middle-class, and protestant male, reputedly the root of many social ills. Segal (1990)refers to “the masculine myth”—the intrinsic virtue of women, and the apparent “vice”of men in social and academic trends. Since so many contemporary researchers inwomen’s studies, and gender and equity departments, are progeny of ideological fem-inism, it is no surprise that a contemptuous, or at best—“unsympathetic” approach en-dures toward men and boys in much educational research. Therefore, I seek to challengeideological feminism with a critical, open-minded, and intersectional analysis of iden-tity, and power relations, regarding male teachers. Interestingly, although race and sexual orientation2 emerged in multiple contexts inour survey and participant interviews, there was but one comment for each that ex-plicitly linked the two with the keyword role model, but they are nonetheless poignant.Regarding race, once respondent confided: The students can relate to a teacher from a visible minority background. I am a good role model for English Language Learners. The most rewarding part of this job is watching young minds develop over the course of the school year and the impact I am going to have on my students. Role model = my grade 5, 6 teacher. Here, the respondent insinuates that he is a good role model as a visible minority forother visible minorities and/or English Language Learners, in keeping with public dis-course around diversity, and that his own former grade 5 and 6 teacher may have pos-itively influenced him. Indeed, many visible or ethnic minority children, including Black Canadians, may notidentify with dominant history, past, culture, or lifestyle that is Eurocentric, white, andmiddle-class, thereby contributing to disenfranchisement with school and resulting inhigher drop-out rates (Dei, 1993). In many United States (U.S.) school districts, 70 per-cent of African-American boys in 9th grade will not graduate four years later (Franklin,White, Koopmann, & Howard, 2010). Similarly, for Portuguese Canadians in Toronto,while not necessarily visible minorities, blue-collar social class, an identification withgangsta culture, and a cultural practice of getting jobs early on, rather than opting foruniversity or college, may contribute to high school attrition rates.3 The attrition rate of 2 Likewise, although there were multiple areas in our survey and complimentary research whereablebodiness, class, geographical location, and language arose as significant themes, they werenot explicitly referred to along with the keyword of role model. 3 There is even a Facebook group devoted to discussion of the 43 percent drop-out rate of Por-tuguese students in Toronto: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=27853691920&ref=share 122
  8. 8. MALE TEACHER ROLE MODELSBlack Canadians in Toronto has been such, at almost 50 percent, that an alternativeAfrocentric school has been created (Brown, Popplewell, & Staff, 2008), with teach-ers specialized in Afrocentric curriculum, many of whom are Black, so that studentsmay ostensibly have more role models, and curriculum, reflecting their own ethnic andcultural backgrounds. Similarly, some U.S. universities that are all Black and male, re-late that in these settings, young Black men can find their own voice, while challeng-ing negative socialization associated with manhood, such as shame (Armstrong, 2002),homophobia, and misogyny (Franklin, et al., 2010). Young Black university studentscan gain more critical sense of positive racial identity among other strong Black menwho are positive role models, such as professors, staff, and older student mentors, andthis positively correlates with academic achievement, and positive self-image (More-house College Panel, 2010). Therefore, the importance of the presence of teachers who ethnically, visibly, or cul-turally reflect the student population emerges, to alleviate school underachievement,and attrition rates of minority groups, in which boys typically are more negatively rep-resented. One can conclude that a diverse representation of genders in schools to coun-teract the dwindling numbers of male teachers is analogous, and the representation ofmore diverse male teachers in schools, might similarly alleviate the higher attrition andliteracy problems of many boys. Booth (2002, p. 3) claims that, “We need to ensure thatboys have male literacy models in their homes, in their schools, and in the community,so that they will associate reading and writing activities with other boys and male adultsin their lives”. More research is needed, and will unfold, as more and more schoolsboards in North America experiment with single-sex settings (Boesveld, 2009; Leslie,2009; Staff, 2009), and hopefully, with the eventual hiring and retention, of more di-verse male and female teachers, including those who are minorities.Sexual Orientation Fears abound regarding male teachers’ sexuality that transcend being labeled or self-identified as gay, straight, or any other variant, and are centered around men’s sup-posed universal predatory and pedophiliac tendencies. When asked in whatcircumstances they experience prejudice, one respondent confides: Just the classic assumptions about male “role-models” and that males need to avoid certain situations with students because of “historically bad decisions being made by males” giving male teachers a bad name, when it is not seen as an issue for a female colleague. A need to protect oneself and to be more prudent than female teachers is another way of saying it. Additionally, another respondent reflects the widespread notion that male primaryteachers, like figure skaters, designers, hair stylists, and flight attendants, are suspectedof being gay: Yes. Male primary teachers are assumed to be lacking in stereotypical male traits. Their sexual orientation may be questioned behind their backs. Teach- 123
  9. 9. GOSSE ing in the older grades, these types of assumptions are not made. Men in older elementary are generally considered to be exemplary people and good role models. Secondary teachers remain the most respected as they are considered to have superior knowledge, skills, expertise, and intelligence. Being “gay” is commonly conflated with the erroneous expectation of potential or im-minent pedophilia in educational circles and broader society (Gosse, 2010b). For cen-turies, dominant groups have used the “they’re after your kids” myth to marginalizesubdominant groups such as Jews and gays (Jennings, 2005), and now male teachers.Therefore, as good as a male teacher may be in effectively teaching, communicating,and differentiating learning for his pupils, he is nonetheless privy to a level of scrutiny,homophobia, androgenophobia, (i.e., the prevalent societal conviction that maleness,the male body, and male sexualities are somehow unclean, perverse, and menacing)and erastephobia, (i.e., a pervasive expectation and fear of impending pedophilia bymales in general, and male teachers in the schools in particular), in ways, and to a de-gree, unlike female colleagues (Gosse, 2011a). While another respondent does not mention the keyword role model, nevertheless, hedoes implicate role modeling succinctly in his words, “Students who question theirsexual orientation can see that a gay male teacher is strong, happy, successful and hope-fully can reassure them that life’s biggest challenges are manageable.” Similarly, an-other teacher states, “There are many students lacking a significant positive role modeloutside of school so having a good mixture of genders as well as other forms of di-verse representation in the teaching staff is beneficial.” A further respondent mirrors thenotion that diversity is beneficial to all students, boys and girls, including sexual ori-entation and cultural diversity, “I don’t buy the whole ‘boys who are lacking a male fig-ure thing.’ I think that everyone is better served by a diversity of cultures, genders,sexualities, etc. More exposure to more diversity benefits all students.” These teachers seem to propose that both boys and girls need diverse role models, andexposure to many cultures, genders, sexualities, etc. This common theme is evident inour interviews, too, and is in keeping with a notion of promoting diversity, and re-flecting our multicultural society, rather than the idea that any teacher will do, as longas they are “good.” Having diverse teacher role models along the lines of gender, race,sexual orientation, class, etc., may allow similarly diverse students to better imaginethemselves not only as teachers, but in other careers, as well, and to be exposed to thebenefits of diverse peoples’ life experiences and perspectives, beyond the dominantwhite, middle-class, Anglophone female majority of school staff and administration. Atthe onset of the feminist movement, and to this day, similar arguments are used to pro-vide diverse role models in schools resources for girls, such as pictures depicting girlsand women in positions of power and non-traditional careers in text books (Abrahams,2010b). Abrahams (2010c) quotes a consultant for an education publisher who says: “If you had a picture of a person doing something positive, winning a race, performing an experiment successfully, etc., [you had to] make sure it was of a girl,” said one of the consultants involved in the revisions. “If you had to 124
  10. 10. MALE TEACHER ROLE MODELS have a picture of someone doing a bad thing—bullying, making a mistake, being unsure which course of action to take, etc.—the image was invariably of a boy…. The side effect was to show the boys that they are rarely winners and we expect less of them…. The unstated assumption was that boys did not need the same degree of encouragement.Endeavors such as creating more inclusive texts, and showing women in non-tradi-tional careers, appear to have been successful, since girls tend to dominate in so manyaspects of education today, from cohort graduation rates to feeling safer at school, ascompared to boys (Zheng, December 2009). Moreover, one cannot separate the call for more diverse male teachers, and repre-sentative resources, from the omnipresent caveat of androgenophobia and erastepho-bia in policing the workplace of male primary-junior-teachers. Several hundredcomments relate to the widespread association of colleagues, administrators, andbroader public to assuming they are gay because they are male primary-junior teach-ers, also sometimes resulting in harassment, mocking, distrust, and an insinuation of pe-dophilia, even from pupils: Many assume that as a male P/J teacher, you must be homosexual. A sibling of one of my students assumed this in a passing remark. Certain students at a Grade 6-8 school thought I was gay. I was openly mocked by students in the classroom. I was continually harassed verbally in my first year at an inner city school. I rely on public transit and older children in my school taunted me with homo- phobic insults as I was leaving school. The principal was inept at dealing with it. The harassment escalated and I was transferred to a more educated and so- phisticated community. Once a principal questioned a superintendent when he placed me in his school teaching a grade 2 class. He was concerned because I was a male teacher teaching grade 2. [My] principal allowed a parent to switch a student out of my room as parent was concerned about me being gay … principal and I had words … in a nice way … child was put back into my room. Young, junior-aged students think (and accuse) male teachers for “looking at them” the wrong way.School boards, teacher unions and federations, faculties of education, and teacher cer-tification agencies need to do more to address adequately the pivotal role of homo-phobia in policing the workplace of many male teachers, but sexual orientation remainsmore taboo than issues of sexism against women, or racism (Doyle, 2010). Furthermore, while being a visible minority teacher may be more obvious, being gayrequires outing, and is generally less straightforward. Teachers who identity, or are 125
  11. 11. GOSSEidentified, as LGBTTIQQ2S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex,queer, questioning, or two-spirit) continue to suffer from political and social sanctions(Gosse, 2004; King, 2004); this may include silencing, verbal and physical assault, ex-clusion, and invisibility in the workplace and in social spheres (Gosse, Parr, & Allison,2007, 2008). In interviews with participants, I have found that most continue to be clos-eted with their pupils and pupils’ parents/guardians, while some are out to varying de-grees with certain colleagues and administrators. Therefore, while some believe that a good teacher ought to be able to teach all stu-dents, prejudicial assumptions and actions surrounding subjugated sexual orientation,emerge as hugely mitigating factors influencing the capacity and ability of male teach-ers to act as role models in the workplace. The silencing of sexual orientation minori-ties, or those perceived as such, and the absence or ignoring of affirmative action andequity policies, and discussion, in the workplace that includes sexual orientation, con-tributes toward an oppressive work environment for many male teachers. This hinderstheir potential to challenge actively hegemonic stereotypes, and become the male rolemodels they aspire to be, for they are forever under the watchful, and prejudicial, eyeof others. This may be even more pronounced in Canadian Catholic schools (Callaghan,2009), when overt doctrines further result in a precarious workplace for many LGBT-TIQQ2S teachers, and in discriminatory learning environment for LGBTTIQQ2S stu-dents. Furthermore, since men report being fearful of becoming a teacher due to widespreadprejudices linked to policing of male sexualities, many boys are deprived of the po-tential benefits of the active, humorous, and tolerant teaching styles of some male teach-ers (Gosse, 2010a, 2011a): I love teaching the little kids. I try to have fun in the classroom and they make me laugh. I am lucky to get paid to do something that I really enjoy. I have seen some really strong disciplinarians who are female teachers and I have seen some really positive, caring nurturing types who are males. Perhaps one characteristic that males do bring to teaching is a tendency to break the rules and therefore, perhaps, to let students push the limits. At first you can be seen as “the heavy,” but I’ve found female teachers can often be tougher on students with discipline. Most have a different approach to teaching (less rigid in terms of structure of class). A qualified yes. I have seen some female teachers with the same traits, but most of the males I know seem to possess a more relaxed attitude, and in- clude humor a lot more in their teaching styles. There is a sense of playfulness and excitement that I don’t see in most of my female colleagues. We have to confront contemporary prejudices that work to create a uncomfortableworkplace for many male teachers rooted in homophobia, androgenophobia, and 126
  12. 12. MALE TEACHER ROLE MODELSerastephobia, and a setting that treats many boys as defective and deviant (Hoff Sum-mers, 2000; Wente, 2003a), an off-shoot of the disfavoring of boys and men in educa-tion.Culture Many of the comments linking culture to male teacher role models surround the ideaof certain religious and/or cultural groups who still practice a perceived hegemonicmasculinity and dominance over women and girls. One respondent states, “I am unsurehow to answer this as I think that it is not fair to say that a particular group would bebetter in my class than in a female colleague’s class, but some students, due to culturalbackgrounds, interact and behave differently with males.” This reflects the belief againin a good teacher being able to accommodate all students in his or her class, but alsoconcedes that some cultural backgrounds do interact and behave differently with a maleor female teacher. Several comments also allude to boys from certain cultural back-ground “respecting” male teachers more, as embodied in the following, “Many of thesestudents do not have fathers in the home and male teachers serve as good role models.In addition, some of these students respect male teachers and not female teachers be-cause of their culture!” and also, “Example, a boy who has little respect for a femalemight have a better chance of working with a male teacher who can then model for thisstudent how to respect females.” Another respondent states, “Some Middle Easterncultures do not readily respect the ideas and expectations or women,” while anothersays, “Some boys relate well to a male teacher in elementary schools. Some cul-tural/religious groups seem to relate better to male teachers.” Although in popular cul-ture the frequently stereotypical assumption is that boys of Muslim culture andbackground may see girls and women as inferior, it must be noted that in the lattercomments, we can infer that the lack of respect may extend to any misogynous back-ground, where lack of respect for women is present. Approximately 63 percent of African-American households are headed by a singleparent, overwhelmingly a mother (Leverett, 2007). Women in Ontario and acrossCanada who are single-mothers, and the number has been steadily increasing sinceabout 1972, have tended to have higher rates of poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, andmental health problems (Lipman, Offord, & Boyle, 1997), with ongoing links made tosingle motherhood, poverty, lack of male role models, and aberrant behaviors in boys(Finlay & Keewatin, 2002; Simpson, 2002; Tyre, 2006). Correspondingly, a respon-dent writes, “Many of these students do not have fathers in the home and male teach-ers serve as good role models. In addition, some of these students respect male teachersand not female teachers because of their culture!” This echoes the widespread social be-lief on diversity that male teachers may become positive role models for boys who lackthem in single-mothered homes, in addition to what is commonly held to be a moreWestern, and less chauvinistic, embodiment of manhood. Furthermore, it is interestingto note that male role models are also linked to endeavors to encourage boys’ literacyin single-parent homes (Willoughby-Herb & Herb, 1993). 127
  13. 13. GOSSE In keeping with this widespread cultural belief that male teachers may model morerespectful, counter-hegemonic traits toward women, thus reflecting the wedded ideaof diversity and equality, a respondent states the following common, analogous belief, The male teacher provides a role model for appropriate male behavior ... not just between boys ... but also a model for appropriate behaviour around girls. It allows children to see and experience the differences (strengths and limita- tions) of both genders who are in an authoritarian role with others. It allows boys in particular to realize that males can be nurturing in a different way than female teachers.In this case, the male teacher is supposed not only to show but also subsequently to re-inforce dualistic concepts of gender as polarized entities. This respondent’s idea of di-versity is partially based on traditional concepts of gender, and hints at a chivalroustype of masculinity toward girls. However, he indicates modeling a type of nurturingby male teachers that is somehow different from that of women teachers that needs dis-cussion. Indeed, there is much anecdotal commentary in academic research that this project,“The Professional Journey of Male Primary/Junior Teachers,” has elucidated. An-drogenophobia and erastephobia abound (Gosse, 2011a). Unlike many of their femalecolleagues who may physically nurture and console their pupils by hugging them, hold-ing hands, or even having young pupils sit on their laps, male teachers find ingeniousways to nurture their pupils. This includes the assignment of special classroom duties,such as collecting books or handing out crayons, heaping on of verbal praise, havingpupils sit next to them in closer proximity, and in lieu of physical contact that manywomen teachers engage in, such as sitting on one’s lap, holding hands, or hugging,many male teacher give high fives (Gosse, 2010c). These sanctions on men’s workplace behaviors, originating from administrators andcolleagues, all primarily female, as well as children/pupils, parent/guardians, and thepublic and media (Gosse, 2011a), cause inequity in the workplace since women are notsubject to such prejudice. They also serve to propagate widespread perceptions of maleteacher role models as non-nurturing, or less nurturing, than female colleagues, andthus less equipped to work with children, despite male teachers’ alternative strategies.Furthermore, these sanctions against physical nurturing also serve to constantly rein-state the privileged status of women in early education by reaffirming the so-called du-alistic “nature” of the “two” commonly held genders—male and female, which resultsnot only in maintaining women’s privileged status in [early childhood] education, butalso a heterosexist and rigidly gendered educational system that helps keep them inmajority status, for many men report unwillingness to work with younger children, orconstant unease and caution for those who do, due to the omnipresent potential for ac-cusations of inappropriate conduct that for many women are simply accepted ways ofnurturing their young pupils. In addition, various respondents bemoan the common cultural practice in schools ofplacing behaviorally challenged children, particularly boys, with male teachers simply 128
  14. 14. MALE TEACHER ROLE MODELSbecause of social expectations that they must somehow be able to better deal with thembetter than female colleagues, as reported by these respondents: When I went through my practicum placement in a Catholic school I was given a harder assignment of 25 grade 2 behaviour children to work with with- out proper support. I find that it is difficult to change grades or assignments in my current school. Sensitize female staff about gender issues ... like ... the appropriateness of comments like “that student should be placed with MR_ next year, because he/she needs a male role model or because MR_ will be able to handle him/her.” Treat males and females equally. Often, males are seen as a silver bullet to solve behaviour problems in students (“he just needs a strong male role model”). As a result, males usually have an overload of behaviour problems in their classes, without support. Year-after-year, it wears us down.Indeed, it appears that male teachers may end up with a larger number of challengingstudents, and this, while arguably benefiting female teachers who may then partake ofa more harmonious classroom atmosphere, has implications for workplace stress formen, male job retention, and long-term job satisfaction. Moreover, some male teachers do concede that children from single-mothered homesmay benefit from placement with them, as well as families from Muslim backgrounds,others make links to behavioral issues, and chauvinism toward women: Where I have taught there have been several Muslim families where the boys and their parents have only shown respect to the male faculty members. There are certainly cultural biases at play with many of the families in the GTA [Greater Toronto Area]. I have also had rambunctious male students that re- spond more effectively to the males on staff perhaps from the tone of voice and demeanour of the staff members. Children without father figures I’ve noticed want to know you personally more so than other children. I’ve had some success with students with be- havioural needs (all just so happened to have no father figures in their lives), because I think (unfortunately) that I receive more respect from them than do female teachers. All children need male and female teachers as they grow and learn.This latter comment also mirrors the idea of diversity, that male teachers can and do pro-vide something of a father figure that may help mitigate some children’s emotive andsocial needs. Indeed, Marshall, English, and Stewart (2001) report lower levels of ag-gression and depression for children in protective services who had a father figure.More long range, multi-variable research is required regarding male teachers and sim-ilar declarations, broadly held to be common knowledge. 129
  15. 15. GOSSE CONCLUSION The call for a more diverse teacher population, and diversity policies and practices,is closely linked to the idea of a democratic society (Staff, October 2004), and part ofour North American consciousness. The argument that any teacher will do as long asthey are good is clearly not the opinion of the vast majority of the male primary/juniorteachers in Tracing the Professional Journey of Male Primary Teachers in Ontario,with 91.3 percent of respondents affirming that more male primary/junior teachersshould be hired. It is also clear that the respondents in our online survey, who specifi-cally mention the keyword role model in their comments, overwhelmingly adhere to thenotion of diversity rather than the ambivalent idea that a good teacher ought to be ableto reach all students in his or her class. However, it must be noted that gender arises asthe privileged identity marker, with numerous respondents alluding to their [male] gen-der as somehow germane to being a “good” or “positive” role model for children.Among those who elaborated in their comments, there are a few chief patterns orthemes surrounding this common thought. Most significantly, there are cultural rea-sons that many male primary/junior teachers feel they can diversify, and perhaps bebetter equipped in some cases, to respond to certain groups in their teaching. However,the principal reason offered is colonialist, that of transforming (sub)cultures who main-tain a non-Western patriarchal structure that “respects” men more, elevating them to ahigher level, while demonstrating a lack of respect and negative attitudes towardwomen teachers, and this supposedly mostly from boys. This opinion is closely linkedto religion, and one can assume from popular culture, media, and also interviews thatwe have conducted with multiple male teachers, to primarily reference Muslim andBlack cultures. Whether this has prejudicial overtones requires further empirical in-quiry, as boys (more so than girls), I contend, are unfairly targeted in our school sys-tem by teachers and educational assistants with negative expectations. This may thenhave an inverse Pygmalion Effect (Tauber, 2009), or result in negative self-fulfillingprophesies, such as boys becoming disengaged in school as they are branded “trouble-makers,” or “poor readers” due to the focus on girl-friendly fiction and intrapersonalassessments, such as reflective journal writing (Spence, 2006), or even erroneously di-agnosed with ADHD (Tyre, 2008), due to their longing for active teaching and learn-ing strategies and approaches. Moreover, undeserved and seemingly malicious silencing and ignoring strategies,negative body language and tone, verbal reprimands, time outs, detentions, and pun-ishments abound, especially when of certain ethnic and visible minority backgrounds,targeting many black, native, and Muslim boys in particular, according to my research(Gosse, 2011b). This substantiates what has been referred to as a type of societal “war”against boys (Hoff Summers, 2000, 2007; Wente, 2003b), which includes education. Ul-timately, all teachers, regardless of their genders or identities, should be more cautiousrole models in how they convey approval, encouragement, and nurturing toward allchildren [or withhold these strategies and do the opposite, showing disapproval, dis-couragement, and neglect], particularly for boys, who seem to bear the brunt of an in- 130
  16. 16. MALE TEACHER ROLE MODELSverse Pygmalion Effect, especially when members of a visible minority. Since mostteachers are female, white, and middle-class, and the male teachers in the minority alsoappear to be mostly white and middle-class, similarly to the approximate 90 percentwhite teaching staff of the United States (Staff, October 2004), more affirmative actionemployment policies to reflect better the student population and broader society couldmitigate such prejudice. Additionally, faculties of educations, school boards, andteacher federations should be far more vigilant regarding diversity instruction in theirteacher education programs (McFalls & Cobb-Roberts, 2001; Parsons & Brown, 2001). The notion that male teachers may act as role models for both boys and girls, who arelacking them at home and in their larger communities, also arises. There is scant re-search until now to prove such a claim, which nevertheless has mass common-sense ap-peal. However, only recently has research on boys’ and men’s experiences begun as ithas for girls and women over recent decades, and this is a huge factor in the lack oftrustworthy data. Indeed, current findings from the United Kingdom’s Teacher Train-ing and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) (Eaton, 2009; Staff, 2008b) indicatethat male primary school teachers have acted as fundamental role models to one in twomen (48%), 35 percent felt that having a male primary teacher challenged them to workharder at school, and 22 percent believed that male primary teachers helped build theirconfidence while they were young; From the 800 men surveyed, many also reportedthat they were more likely to approach male teachers with issues of bullying (50%),problems at home (29%) and questions about puberty (24%). These results are com-plimentary to my research findings thus far, and the idea that male teacher role modelsare indeed important, contrary to the notion that any good teacher will do, as numbersof male teachers dwindle. That there was scant mention of sexual orientation, and also race, along with the key-word role model, and race tied in with English language learning, but none of disabil-ity, class, or geographical location, has several interpretations. In our survey, weascertained the gender, geographical location in Ontario, number of years teaching up-front, and language of respondents at the start of the survey, but were reluctant to ex-plicitly question respondents upfront on more touchy demographics of race, class,disability, and sexual orientation, for fear this might dissuade them from continuingthe survey. However, many respondents did indeed divulge rampant prejudice and dis-crimination in later parts of the survey, and subsequent interviews, and in numerousareas of their professional and personal identities (Gosse, 2010c; Gosse & Parr, 2009).Indeed, when asked in the survey whether they had experienced prejudice as male pri-mary/junior teachers, 106 of the 223 respondents indicated they had experienced prej-udice with 10.4 percent indicating race, 6.6 percent class, 77.4 percent gender, 17.9percent sexual orientation, 1.9 percent disability, 8.5 percent language and culture, and“other” at 20.8 percent, and most explained how this was lived. Therefore, while prej-udice does indeed exist, and was commented upon by many respondents and inter-viewed participants in our study, it is interesting to note that within the confines of mymethodology for this particular paper, responses were more limited. Moreover, just asCummins and Sayers (1995) report that instruction that denies or ignores students’ cul-tural or sexual identity is unlikely to result in improving academic achievement, I apply 131
  17. 17. GOSSEthe same premise to gender, race, disability, geographical location, and class identifi-cation. These are jointly a significant force in literacy learning, curriculum content,and role modeling for male teachers and all teachers, as well as students, for they for-mulate our understandings of and identification with sundry identities, and are therebywedded to the notion of diversity in education. Indeed, responses specific to gender, teaching styles, and the keyword role modelwere numerous (in the hundreds) and sophisticated, and will be part of a lengthier, fu-ture publication; A significant part of this future analysis will involve participants’ con-tentious beliefs about diverse teaching styles among male and female teachers. Overall,respondents were more apt to comment on their gender throughout all sections of thesurvey but this may be in part due to the title and focus of our study, which in implicitand explicit appears to privilege gender. However, it is equally my contention that whilethe majority of our teacher population is undeniably white, middle class, and female,it is similarly overwhelmingly white and middle-class in the male minority. Therefore,due to this phenomenon of white, and/or middle-class privilege in education, partici-pants may downplay issues of race, disability, class, geographical location, and othermarginalizing factors, including those that are queer, even if a visible minority.4 In conclusion, I propose a call to explore with increased vigor the lack of minoritiesin our school system and teaching personnel beyond the confines of “gender.” Exam-ination of the intersections of race and ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, dis-ability, geographical location, language and culture, and among both men and women,and those whose gender identities do not correspond to either dualist notion, includingtransgender, transsexual, and two spirit, would be more fruitful. Only by examiningthose who do not necessarily fall within the norm of mainstream, accepted, categoriesof teachers, namely white, female, and middle class, can we fully appreciate the di-versity, or lack thereof, in our teaching population. Only then may we begin to ascer-tain the effects on minority teachers, specifically men, the impediments to their senseof job security and job satisfaction, the constraints resulting from male gender polic-ing, the absence of support services and networks for men, the ramifications of an-drogenophobia and erastephobia in their personal and professional lives (Gosse, 2011a),and the implications on the teaching and learning of boys and girls in their care. Thesefactors conspire to collectively inhibit a diverse work force and workplace equity, andto maintain the status quo, a workplace seeming to privilege many girls and women, thatinversely impedes more inclusionary practices for all. REFERENCESAbrahams, C. (2010a, October 21). Designated scholarships overwhelmingly favour women. Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to- lead/failing-boys/designated-scholarships-overwhelmingly-favour-women/article1766443/ 4 Queer may be used as an umbrella term for LGBTTIQQ2S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender, transsexual, intersex, queer, questioning, or two-spirit). 132
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