In most primary schools around the world, female teachers outnumber male teachers. The same holds good for schools in Gurgaon. Why is this? Are female teachers better suited for primary school? It might be easy to immediately come to that conclusion, but a deeper look is needed.
Purpose of Primary School
First, we need to back up and think about what we as parents want in a primary school. Generally, the best schools in Gurgaon and globally focus on a holistic approach to education. This means that in addition to academics, children grow in their overall character, skills and interests. Parents want to know their child is cared for and safe for all those hours spent at school.
There should be excellence in academics balanced with a personal concern for each child’s development. Teachers should have a natural passion for education and love what they do. When hiring, I also want to see an obvious love for children and strong personal character. Children should also get a great foundation in a variety of experiences, both scholastic and co-scholastic. A great teacher inspires children to love learning new things.
Gender in the teaching profession
Are the majority of primary school teachers female? Yes. But why is that? Many research studies have looked into this question and have come up with a variety of conclusions. Most societies have established gender roles, and working with young children is an acceptable career choice for women. Often men avoid those roles because societal norms and pressure push them to more traditional careers. Pay scales for teachers globally result in it not being viable for a sole breadwinner; rather, it becomes an additional source of income for a household and therefore is taken up by women. Many more such conclusions point to a number of potential explanations.
Most importantly, no research supports that female teachers have better outcomes than male teachers based solely on gender. So we all fall victim to certain assumptions. Mothers are loving and caring, and can meet the emotional and cognitive needs of students. While this is generally true, I have come across many female teachers in my career who were stern, cold, and (to my observation) didn’t even like children!
On the other hand, I think we all have experienced male teachers who were caring, inspiring, and had a huge impact on our lives. At some level, we know that children benefit from role models who are male, female, musical, mathematical, funny, athletic, etc. We want them to have exposure to different people and personalities. There are more opportunities to identify with an adult that ‘gets them’, that can be a mentor. Children learn to appreciate differences in their own peers as they appreciate the differences in the adults around them. Ultimately they learn that there is no one ‘right’ way to be and they can find their own path.
As a parent and an educator, I focus on the skills and attributes of the specific teacher. I’ve had the pleasure of hiring many great teachers over the years - both male and female. While it is not as usual to see men teaching primary school, there is certainly no reason to expect they aren’t excellent educators. Top Gurgaon schools are recognising this and hire teachers and school leaders based on their skills and qualities. After all, excellent educators make students truly successful.