September 19, 2017

Horse 2323 - The Extinction of Male Primary School Teachers
The number of male teachers is dropping so dramatically there will be none left in Australian primary schools within 50 years unless governments take action, researchers say.
Australia's first longitudinal study of teacher numbers has found the number of male primary school and high school teachers has fallen 10 per cent and 14 per cent respectively since 1977.
- Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop, ABC News, 18th Sep 2017.

I have been asked in the past why I never became a teacher. While this is a well meaning question, it misses out on rather obvious facts that teachers are a breed apart, and that it requires storehouses of patience and understanding to deal with a classroom full of other people's children.
Teachers are a special kind of people who need the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, the voice of Churchill, and the authority of Thatcher. Think about it, you are basically the manager, disciplinarian, and entertainer of a score and a bit of children; in addition to having the responsibility of imparting knowledge. To become a teacher is a noble and special calling and demands a noble and special person to do the job. I am simply not that person and even if I was, I still would never do it.
Because children are awful and their parents are worse. Children are demanding and impetuous but parents can be vengeful and downright nasty.

The demands of the job already act as a pretty powerful filter, to eliminate potential candidates to join the profession. If that wasn't bad enough, the world itself has changed and become less trusting, which quite rightly it should be, and far more litigious; that by itself is more than enough to eliminate each and every male candidate.
Probably the research will want to speak about societal projections of gender upon employment and whether or not a particular job is seen as not being as masculine as something else. To be fair, society has shifted when it comes to some professions such as nursing and aged care but when it comes to teaching, once you add the element of there being children involved, very high profile cases in the media have changed society's perception of what is and isn't acceptable. This article is no different:

Dr McGrath said men were being turned off teaching because of low pay and the perception it is a feminine profession.

However, the teaching profession can eliminate each and every single male candidate who wants to enter the teaching profession with just the mere hint of a single word "rape". It never needs to be uttered, it never needs to be hinted at, it doesn't even have to be true. There is an underlying assumption in society, that every single male between the ages of 18-65 is a potential rapist, and that by itself is more than reason enough to disqualify every single male candidate who wants to become a teacher.
Make a misstep as an accountant and you can fix it quite easily. If you are a tradesperson like a plumber and you commit some serious error, the industry will usually accommodate you and you can find another job. If you are a teacher though, and even if you have a perfectly clear record of service, just the mere suggestion of impropriety and your whole career can be destroyed, even if the claim was absolutely baseless and​ it was brought forth by a parent because little Judy or Johnny was an intolerable little git and you gave them a failing mark. I don't know of many professions where the baseless vengeance of people can destroy someone's career and livelihood, and sully their reputation so quickly and easily. My advice to any owner of mismatched chromosomes who wants to become a teacher is, Don't! 

In principle, the labour market is broadly the same as markets for other goods and services. The big difference with the labour market is that individuals tend to specialise quite early on in their careers and that means that labour itself, isn't exactly all that fungible. The labour market has barriers of entry and the barriers to entry to the supply of labour as a teacher are quite high. It requires a university education, it requires a certain kind of character, and the pay isn't exactly as generous as you would expect for someone who has to deal with sometimes unfriendly and even dangerous children.
Throw in the extra barrier that you may be accused of something hideous, which is unfounded and completely untrue, but which society has already become judge, jury, and executioner,  and what you get is the market for labour responding in the most appropriate way by withdrawing supply. If a perceived barrier to entry to a market is sufficiently high, nobody should be surprised if potential suppliers to that market are unwilling to jump the barrier. The fact that there are less male teachers in the profession, should be seen as nothing more than a logical solution to the conditions of entry to the market.

For all the talk about gender equality in the workplace and what are perceived as female and male oocupations, you can say anything you like but when society screams even louder, you'd best listen. Men, you're not welcome as teachers; get out and stay out; or better yet, don't get into it in the first place.

1 comment:

Sara Clark said...

It is disappointing to hear you say this but understandable and this is the unspoken elephant in the room.

People might say that not every man is a rapist, or a murderer, or violent but they will still think it. Why would you sign up for a job where you will be accused of these things?