Although research recognises male teachers benefit boys, little is known about why this is and what male teachers mean for girls.
Some argue that boys have become the ‘new disadvantaged’ as the result of efforts to eradicate female disadvantage in a historically male biased education system. A widely accepted solution is more male teachers /role models in schools for boys.
New research by Kevin McGrath and Mark Sinclair, published in Gender and Education, examines why it is that male teachers are the solution, what benefits they bring to boys, and what benefits they bring to girls.
McGrath and Sinclair conducted focus groups with 97 parents and 184 students of diverse social and ethnic backgrounds in Australia. They found that male students expressed a preference for male teachers because of perceived shared experiences, interests and ways of thinking. Boys felt that men have a better comprehension of their play and were better able to relate.
For the girls, a male teacher represented an important opportunity to interact with and build relationships with men outside the family. This increased understanding of men serves an important role in girls’ successful transition into the wider world of university, work and their personal lives.
McGrath and Sinclair conclude that male teachers, whilst not proven to affect academic achievements in the classroom, certainly have a pertinent part to play in the social development of girls and boys.
(Source: Taylor & Francis Group, Gender and Education)