Male Teachers in Estonian Schools - Who are They?

Around 15 per cent of teachers in Estonian schools are men. This means that out of ~15,000 teachers working in Estonia, there are ~2000 men. “But why do we even need male teachers in schools?” asks a doctorate student at Tallinn University and the head of studies at Keila school, Ahti Noor.

Do we need male teachers in schools to set an example to the boys and the girls? Is it to make us feel safer? Is it to create a balance in the teacher’s room? Or is there some other reason? Decreasing the gender segregation in schools is becoming more and more of a matter of discussion.

Why are there so few male teachers?

Is the only reason the continued financial state of teachers, which collides with the success culture and the role of the man as the provider of the family? Ahto Noor brings out even more reasons:

The lowly status of the teacher in the society
The role of the teachers profession as a ‘women’s job’, which makes it more difficult for young men to find role models
Perhaps a third reason?

“I don’t think it is to do with any of these reasons. The lack of men in schools and the ways of getting them to join is an age-old matter,” says Ahti Noor.

He finds the subject should be viewed from a different angle. “We should talk more about why the men are in schools in the first place. There are many reasons why there are no men. But what do we know about the reasons why a man would join a school?”

If we find out why a current male employee at a school wishes to be a teacher, perhaps this would help us set a balance of the sexes among teachers, he proposes.

Noor describes a stereotypical male teacher: “He’s more likely teaching science and technology, or natural sciences, than humanities.” This is not always the case, though, as religious studies have an above average ratio of male teachers, even though it is considered a humanities subject. Mathematics, as a sciences study, has at the same time a below average proportion of male teachers.

In most public schools, there are no or very few male teachers – usually no more than three. There are very few schools with more than 13 male teachers.

Ahti Noor calls upon all male teachers in Estonia to expose themselves and write publicly about their experience in becoming and being teachers.

Watch a short presentation with English subtitles.

May 5, 2015

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