Posted by admin on March 31, 2014
Those of you who know me, or those of you who have read any of my blogs will know that I love my job. I choose this profession because I have a genuine love for children and a sincere passion for early childhood education and the Montessori Method. I also felt that (especially in Ireland) there was a distinct lack of men in this field and that surely this absence of positive male role models from early childhood education was a negative thing.
Now I am well aware that this is very much a female led and dominated profession and that in my position as a male Montessori teacher I am in the minority. I also understand that when I tell people what I do I will receive a few raised eyebrows or a few “sorry you are a what?” responses, and this is fine, in fact I actually like that it takes people by surprise. However, what gets to me is when people have a negative reaction. I have had some very negative reactions to the fact that I work with young children. These range from monotonous comments such as “could he not get a real job” and “why don’t you become a real teacher” to comments of a more sinister nature that I don’t think I need to share with you all here in this blog.
Are gender stereotypes so ingrained in people that if we stray from them there must be some serious explanation for it? The male nurse, the female bus driver or electrician, the male Montessori director all do more than raise eyebrows, they seem to make certain people uneasy. They are so removed from some people’s zone of comfort people seek a reason to explain why we have chosen the “wrong path”. I struggle to see how a figure such as a positive male role model for our youngest children in their formative years, can be seen in such a negative light.
I have read on forums that mothers (and fathers I might add) have said they would refuse to send their child to a pre-school environment if there was a male in the classroom. Would they refuse the services of a female mechanic when their car is broken down on the side of the road? Would they refuse to be cared for by a male nurse and actually while I am talking about the medical profession, Maria Montessori was Italy’s first female doctor, a medical society at the time which was entirely dominated by men, would her medical advice be disregarded by these people?
Have other people come across this line of thought? Would this cross your mind if you were putting your child into a preschool classroom environment where there is a male teacher? Would the same ideas pop into your head if your 8 year old child had a male teacher in Primary school? Would this be something that you would have to think twice about if a male teacher applied for a job in your setting? I really just want to find out why there can be such a negative reaction to such a positive thing.