Last week I entertained a York NQT for five days as part of his professional enrichment. Alongside my classroom, he took it upon himself to experience drama and PE. As a male English teacher, he made some excellent points of how his gender may, or may not, affect his practice. Below you can read some of the thoughts that he has kindly contributed. Thanks Mr H!
As I have just finished my training as a male English teacher, I think now is a good time to reflect on what I have learnt. There is a distinct identity associated with being a male English teacher; some
would call us a rare breed, but I am not sure whether the imbalance is a question of environment rather than subject. In my experience, it is true that some departments are predominantly female
and, in the overall scheme of things, there appears to be more female English teachers than males.
However, there are certain types of school, such as independent schools and in higher education, where the departments are predominantly male. I am still unsure as to whether this comes down
to the increased levels of sensitivity required to teach the subject (as opposed to subjects dealing in pure fact) or whether it is based more in the fact that teachers in independent schools are employed
purely to deliver their expertise, thus the behaviour management and pastoral aspects of the job in the classroom are significantly reduced. In either case, it appears that English still has a feminine
stigma attached and, returning to the previous point, the masculine balance can be more securely addressed by asserting power through knowledge and expertise and that the pastoral elements
of teaching only further contribute to a teacher’s sensitive façade; this would explain why there is an uneven distribution of male English teachers and why they may feel more adapted to certain
learning environments. I strongly believe that English is not ‘just for girls’ and I am in the profession to help dispel that myth in any way I can.
Upon finishing my PGCE year I realise that, although amongst colleagues there is no discernible difference because of my sex, I can be an important role model to boys in English and it important to advocate the view that sensitivity is a rich aspect of being a man and that respect does not have to be earned through power and dominance over others.