I've been nurtured by some marvelous teachers; both my parents are teachers. The following letter was published in today's Winnipeg Free Press:
Women have always dominated teaching; historically, it has been one of two socially-acceptable occupations to hold outside the home (guess what the other one is).
Why are there so few men in teaching? Simple, the profession lacks two important indicators of success: monetary reward and prestige. In a culture which socializes men to be aggressive and competitive and women to be passive and co-operative, is it any wonder men are staying away from the profession in droves?
In my 10 years of teaching the profession has been systematically attacked and demoralized on an ongoing basis. What man would willingly choose such a low-status job that incurs neither power nor rewards, financial, social or otherwise, over a job in business where even a mediocre worker gets more regular perks, bonuses and accolades than a master teacher?
Again, the answer is simple: a man not driven by the external rewards or public gratification deemed culturally valuable by our society. Coincidentally, I have the pleasure of working with such men who are driven, like their female counterparts, more by altruism than money.
A far better question would be, in a female-dominated profession such as teaching, why is it that all upper-level positions (department headships, senior high jobs, administration) are mostly held by men (ditto nursing)? Another consideration: why is there no other internal mechanism for recognizing teacher accomplishment besides promotion to administrative positions?
Teaching is largely an isolated occupation with virtually no feedback (except in the case of problems), power, financial reward or thank-yous.
There is a saying that goes, 'Those who plant trees have hope for the future.' The only way teachers survive such a delayed-gratification vocation is our knowledge that someday, after we are long gone, a tree we planted will very privately bear the fruits of our labour."