Friday, November 11, 2016

Year 7: Week 11 – Teach Like A Man

I remember the first teacher I had in school that was a man. He was our PE teacher. Mr. Gowan. He wore a tight t-shirt tucked into 1990’s style warm-up pants. He was bald, wore glasses and whenever I picture him in my mind’s eye, he has a whistle in his mouth. He spoke in short sentences, wore glasses and always carried a clipboard.  Mr. Gowan always spoke authoritatively which seemed at odds with the fact that he was a short man. Basically, if you were to make a cartoon character of a PE teacher, it would probably look like him.

The next male teacher I had was a music teacher in second grade (oddly, he also was my drivers ed teacher years later). He was one of those music teachers who would have rather been playing music professionally. It wasn’t 5th grade that I had another teacher who was a man. In my kindergarten-5th grade school, with three classes per grade there were only three male teachers. All the administration were woman and the only other adult man in the school was the janitor who I remembered because he shared the same name as the football player Joe Kelly.

In middle school, I don’t think changed. I had maybe one male teacher a year. It was still mostly woman teachers. It wasn’t until high school that male teachers started making an impression on me.

I’m really happy about the the fact that my school has teachers who are men, not only in our high school grades but all way down to our kindergarten level. Most of the homeroom teachers from grades 1-5 are woman, but many of assistants and many of the department teachers including myself are men. I would say that almost every student, almost every day interacts with teachers of both genders at my school.

What makes me really proud about the male teachers at my school is that they aren’t all the same kind of “male.” There’s the 5th grade teacher who has Boston sport paraphilia plastered on his walls and the 6th grade teacher who has 1960s music posters all over his front wall. Our 8th grade English teacher loves college football but also loves poetry. Then there’s the middle school choir teacher who plays Pokemon Go, has immaculate handwriting, enjoys watching professional basketball but also geeks out about great choral music.

I look at my male students flailing, trying to figure out what it means to be a man. I have boys who graders wearing sport jerseys, Star Wars t-shirts, capes (on regular school days), and ties. No we aren’t helping them find an answer by presenting them with a plurality of models in masculinity, but we are helping in their journey to creating and develop an authentic masculine identity, based not on insecurities but rather on pride.

Also, it is a important reminder to our boys, that teachers of all subjects, can indeed be men.

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