Failing to attract males in the early years of teaching : a study of male undergraduate Bachelor of Education students at the Univerisity of KwaZulu-Natal (Edgewood Campus)
This qualitative study addresses the problem of the reluctance of males in a South African higher education institution to pursue teaching in the early years. The main question to arise from this problem is this; why are males in a local South African higher education context reluctant to pursue teaching in the early years? The central claim in addressing this question is that the constructions of masculinity play a huge role in influencing the concentration of men opting to teach young children to be low. My aims and purpose of this study is to therefore understand why males in a local South African higher education context are reluctant to pursue teaching in the early years and the implication for gender equality. The research context of this study lies in the domain of literature on studies of men, masculinities and teaching in the early years, particularly from the West, as there has been a dearth of research on this matter in the South African context. I begin from the premise that the constructions of masculinity play a role in influencing the low concentration of men opting to teach young children. The method I used to achieve these aims was that of conducting individual qualitative interviews with 15 male undergraduate BEd students at Edgewood Campus who were not specialising in the Foundation Phase (early years of teaching). My results show that that the constructions of masculinity indeed play a role in influencing these men not to opt to teach young children and from these I am able to conclude that male pre-service teachers’ account of teaching and teachers of young children is an account of gender and doing masculinity. It was found that several issues served to deter the male students in this study from entering into the early years of teaching and these issues dealt largely with the dominant constructions of masculinity and femininity. These issues included instances where the male students constructed the early years of teaching as a profession ideally suited towards females because females according to the students were caring, nurturing and had more patience to work with young children in the early years of schooling. The higher years of teaching on the other hand was considered to be a more suitable profession for males as a result of it being characterized by a greater intellectual capacity and thus a higher status profession. The significance of this study lies in designing suitable interventions which will encourage more men to enter teaching in the early years. In short, this dissertation addresses the problem of understanding why males are so reluctant to enter teaching in the early years of schooling. It has done so by highlighting the reasons why males in a local South African higher education context are reluctant to pursue teaching in the early years. This becomes necessary in order to develop suitable intervention strategies in order to achieve a more balanced ratio of male and female teachers in the early years of teaching. Furthermore achieving a balanced ratio of male and female teachers in this area of teaching can be seen as a significant step towards the realization of gender equality in the workplace.
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