Get more male teachers into preschool
Only 1% of all New Zealand early childhood teachers are men (down from almost 2.5% in 1992) which is one of the worst rates in the developed world. At a recent event in Wellington Russell Ballantyne, President of Men in Early Childhood Network New Zealand called this “a tragedy for thousands of New Zealand children”.
“As a result many children who have no man at home, find no man at preschool and no man at primary school, and never meet a stable, reliable male figure in all their preteen years. Girls never experience nurturing from a trusted older male. Boys, cared for only by women, learn that nurturing is no part of the male job description. And in the absence of reliable men, too many of these boys learn their male role from violent television and music videos, and on the street” he said.
Mr Ballantyne called for ‘ten per cent in ten years’, to have ten per cent male preschool teachers by 2018. In his quest to increase a male presence in preschools he joins other parenting activists such as Steve Biddulph who have highlighted this situation a while ago.
Introducing more male teachers “would bring male styles of interaction to early childhood learning. They would provide valuable encounters with safe and caring males for mothers who had had negative experiences of men. They would encourage more fathers to take part in the education and development of their children. And they would provide a pool of new teachers for a sector chronically short of workers.”
I’m wondering whether this is a regional situation (Steve Biddulph quotes similar figures in his book based on data from Australian schools) or a general sign of the times? Although it is difficult to get reliable figures from other countries it seems likely that currently we are not experiencing a 50-50 mix of male / female teachers in schools. And maybe we don’t need that – but I think we certainly need even more than 10%.