Alexander the Great once said, “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.”
Education is the foundation on which we build the rest of our lives. Our teachers have a huge impact on how we learn, and therefore on how we shape our futures. As the world becomes more aware of gender biases in the workforce, it’s important to take a moment and ask ourselves whether the gender of our teachers has any effect on our learning process.
Some stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. The common idea that women tend to be more emotionally driven than men has had a lot of backing from many psychologists.
While men tend to get a bad rap in society as being “aggressive”, for most students this does not translate into the classroom context. When asked why they prefer male teachers, most students cite objectivity as one of their main reasons.
Women aren’t necessarily less “logical” than men. In fact, many women can be said to be more logical than their male counterparts. However, women tend to express their views based on an emotional reaction to their logical conclusions. This can come across as illogical and subjective.
Men, on the other hand, express themselves predominantly according to logic. Rather than “reacting”, they come across as fair and objective.
While both male and female teachers can be entirely logical, the way in which they express their views and relay information to students has a major impact on the student’s experience. Most students who cite a preference for male teachers say that they feel men are more likely to stick to facts in the classroom.
Diversity in the Workplace
In the UK, 25% of all schools don’t have a single male teacher. Only 4% of the student population working toward a career in education are men.
This creates a unique problem. School is meant to be a training ground for the real world experience. But we find that schools around the world tend to be predominantly female-driven, with more women fulfilling the role of a teacher than men do.
Without having male teachers, our youth are growing up with the idea that teaching is a job for women only.
In what many social experts are referring to as a feminized culture, young men are starved for strong male role models. Many of our youth are growing up without a father figure at home. And sadly, there’s a lack of male role models in the schooling system as well.
Part of the reason men make great teachers is simply for the fact that they’re men. Unlike women teachers, they’ve had the experience of being a male student.
This means that male teachers have unique insights on what helps the majority of male students learn better. Furthermore, they are able to lead by example and give boys someone to look up to as a responsible, caring male role model.
As many as 50% of male students admit that they are far more likely to approach a male teacher about any issues they’re having. Whether it’s bullying, school work, or even something personal, boys find men teachers more approachable than women teachers. And when it comes to school work, many girls tend to agree, saying that male teachers are easier to talk to than their female coworkers.
Part of the reason may be related to men being perceived as more objective. For boys, it’s also about finding a good male role model.
English lessons are especially suited for creating an approachable context for healthy student-teacher relationships. One has only to think of Dead Poets’ Society to see how great male English teachers can have a majorly positive effect on many aspects of their students’ lives.
There have been a number of studies and surveys on how students feel about male teachers. The responses are overwhelmingly positive, with both boys and girls saying that they often prefer their men teachers.
Students cite a variety of reasons for this. One of the most common is that male teachers tend to create a more enjoyable student experience.
Receiving instruction and learning facts can be horribly boring for most students. For most students, male teachers are able to make the learning environment more relaxed and fun. This helps them not only to enjoy school, but to remember their subject matter better. Female teachers, on the other hand, tend to come across as “bossy” or even “annoying”, which puts students off of learning.
One claim made by many who are offended by the idea that men are better English tutors than women is that it isn’t actually male influence that students crave, but structure.
However, related perhaps to the notion that men are more objective than women, it has been found that male teachers are better at providing this structure than their female co-workers.
One theory for the reason behind this is that women may feel an intrinsic need to preserve and protect. This creates a unique level of stress that can interfere with their ability to act objectively. Men, on the other hand, tend to be more results-oriented—allowing them to create and enforce a structure that aims at developing the best results.
For many students—past and present—male teachers are a strong favorite. While there may be some bias in their selections because men tend to be more relaxed, this does have a positive effect in that students are more willing to learn.
This is something that parents have picked up on. While there is no logic in making any kind of call for men to wholly replace women in the education sector, there has been a lot said for encouraging more men to become teachers—especially English teachers. Parents and students alike are pushing for more gender equality in the classroom.
It is important to note that many of the observations discussed in this article should be considered generalizations. Not all female teachers are more emotional than their male counterparts. And not all male teachers are more objective or relaxed than their female counterparts either.