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22 August 2006

I know I laid that down in here somewhere - hold on, let me look...

When I first decided to teach high school, I quite often got this comment from others in and around the profession: “Oh, good! We need more male teachers – there aren’t enough, and the kids will just love you.”

I’m sure there is research out there that can account for the female-male teaching differential in modern times, but you want to know the real reason we males are still lagging behind? Simple – it’s all about the room.

Being grown ups, teachers, believe it or not, are in charge of their own rooms. For men, especially, this is often a very bad idea indeed. It has been well established, more or less, that I’m not exactly the neatest or cleanest person in the world (although many such stories about me are apocryphal). Certainly at times, once the semester gets going, things will resemble a tornado zone in my room. This is not so much laziness as it is a combination of an annoying habit to just put things down on the nearest cleared-off space available, and an annoying habit to always jump to the next task before completely finishing the one I’m on, and forgetting about the stack I just put down on the formerly cleared-off space. So, things get left where they shouldn’t, and pile up in not very neat piles. My only saving grace is that the chemistry teacher/athletic director’s room is much worse than mine, and I can hide in the relative anonymity of being only the second messiest teacher.

Still, the last few semesters, there consistently have been a couple of students to decide that my desk, in particular, needed an extreme neatness makeover, and they very nicely straightened it out. These students have always, to this point, been girls, so let the social scientists do what they will with that info. At first I thought they were just being sweet, and I was their favorite teacher, etc., etc. But at some point I started to realize that, while wearing their “I’m being sweet” facades, they actually were helping me because they DESPERATELY COULDN”T TAKE THE MESS ANYMORE! I think this is why, when I said thank you to the last group who cleaned my desk, they squeezed the words “your welcome” through a kind of exasperated sigh and quickly left.

Am I proud of this? No. Do I believe in human nature? Yes. And human nature dictates that people generally don’t do what others will do for them. So you can see my quandary.

Oh, and men aren’t great at decorating rooms either. I can report that on the last day of the ’06 spring semester this past June, one of my favorite students (one of the intrepid desk/room cleaners mentioned above) decided to go ahead and decorate my room in advance for the start of fall ’07. It looks great, and has saved me a lot of work. You might call it charity, but I have a feeling she would call it pre-emption.


TwistedFork said...

Get this, my son has three male teachers out of four subjects. They are a science, english and band teacher. The math teacher is female. =O

School Master P said...

Good - I hope it works out well for him. At my high school I usually averaged about one male per semester. Sometimes for good reasons, and sometimes for very bad reasons, they always seemed to be the topics of conversation more often than the female teachers, probably just because there weren't as many of them.