In public primary schools across NSW less than one in five teachers are male and, in some regions, the number is as low as 15 per cent. It’s pretty much the same picture across Australia.
The number of male teachers in secondary schools is better, 43 per cent in NSW, and better also in private schools.
However, there’s no denying the long-term trend in which the teaching profession has failed to recruit and retain male teachers.
Now, please, to all those wonderful, dedicated female teachers out there to whom we all owe so much, this is so not a criticism.
It’s just in my experience, kids generally learn by example and the balance of our teaching workforce is hugely important.
My nearly seven-year-old girl had a wonderful female teacher for three years in a row. I’m sure she is channelling her much-loved mentor every time she lectures me on the importance of planning, organisation and focus.
However, speaking also as a mum of an energetic, outgoing boy – boys are just different. They seem to learn in different ways; often strongly physical in their behaviour; can’t sit still and can be totally disorganised and lack focus. Language and reading can come more slowly to them.
Boys do things differently and sometimes this doesn’t always fit neatly with the school syllabus or a female-dominated teaching profession.
If you are lucky enough to have a boy and that boy has ever latched on to a male teacher, you will understand the huge importance of positive male role models in schools.
Male teachers provide a point of reference to which boys can readily refer when other male role models they see on television or admire on the sporting field leave a lot to be desired.
There are a lot of reasons for males choosing not to teach and I’m not going to try and tease these out here.
But for the sake of all those kids who would benefit from a balance of positive role models in the classroom, let’s hope our education policy makers don’t continue to let this go through to the keeper.