Look around the teaching staff of any school and one thing becomes apparent: a distinct lack of men.
It’s nothing to be joked about, diversity in teaching staff has been identified as a way of diminishing gender roles and providing role models for male and female students.
To address the imbalance Australian Catholic University (ACU) State Head of Education for Victoria Dr Matthew Zbaracki has challenged state governments and the tertiary sector to award dedicated teaching scholarships to men, which might redress a decades-old drought of men in the classroom.
“The bat signal is lit up, the red phone is ringing. It is time that we as a society … encourage males that we know could make a difference in the lives of our young people,” Dr Zbaracki said.
Zbaracki advocated providing mentoring opportunities for male teachers, and campaigns to grow respect for male and female teachers would help to redress the man drought and elevate teaching as a profession.
Analysis by ACU and the Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed that for almost three decades as few as one in five Australian primary school teachers have been men.
According to the ABS, in 2017:
VIC and SA are the best performing states. QLD and NSW are trailing, with the proportion of male teachers in NSW plummeting to 10% in 2002.
“There needs to be a major drawcard for males to pursue this career path, and perhaps a free education is just such an enticement.”
“It is important for boys to have male role models in education,” said Zbaracki, who has a PhD in children’s literature and wrote the book, Best Books for Boys.
“All students, not just boys, should have the opportunity to interact with male teachers,” he said.