Boys need male teachers

Taught overwhelmingly by female teachers, boys are falling behind in school, writes Glenn Reynolds in a USA Today column. Why aren’t schools under pressure to recruit male teachers?

Brandon Bell teaches third grade in Georgia.

Brandon Bell teaches third grade in Georgia.

If elementary teachers were predominantly male and girls were doing poorly, “Title IX-style” equity legislation would require gender balance, writes Reynolds, a law professor who blogs as Instapundit.

Boys get the message that they’re naughtier and not as smart as girls, say researchers. They’re disciplined more and suspended much more often.

Female teachers also give boys lower grades than girls for similar work, according to research in Britain.

“More and more, it’s looking like schools are a hostile environment for boys,” writes Reynolds.

“Boys perform better when they have a male teacher, and girls perform better when they have a female teacher,” concludes Stanford Professor Thomas Dee.

Yet only 18 percent of elementary and middle-school teachers are male.

If elementary schools hired math/science specialists, it would be easier to get more men in elementary classrooms.  Single-sex classes also would increase boys’ odds of having a male teacher.

About Joanne


  1. I’m sceptical about all of this. All my teachers until the seventh grade were women and although after that I had male as well as female teachers through the end of high school I don’t recall that there was any noticeable difference in their effectiveness. All the women teachers I had were quite fair and didn’t favor female students to any noticeable extent.

    Perhaps male teachers might be more effective with the more unruly male students. I was probably reasonably well-behaved as a boy.

  2. Jerry Doctor says:

    Like Jim I don’t recall any male teachers until junior high, although 8th grade in my case. I don’t think a lack of male teachers causes any real problems IF:

    1. The teachers they do have don’t expect boys to behave like girls. Too many these days seem to view typical boy behavior as inappropriate.

    2. They boys have a male roll model outside of school. And by far the most effective roll model is a father.

    In other words, if the teachers don’t think boys are defective girls and the boys have a mother AND father at home, the teacher’s gender is irrelevant.

  3. momof4't thin says:

    It used to be accepted wisdom that boys and girls are not the same, that teachers recognized and appreciated the differences and that classroom practices and curriculum choices should accommodate both boys and girls. My old maid ES teachers and my DH’s nuns recognized this. Between the ES years of my older pair and younger pair, many of the older teachers retired and their replacements seemed to see boys as defective girls. Boys’ interest in sword-and-sorcery, battles, machines and adventures were squelched – and are now seen as dangerous.

    I agree that the MS model seemed to be part of the problem, since so many of the ES artsy-crafty, touchy-feely stuff was retained. It was the same school my older kids had attended as a 7-8 JHS, but the academic feel was gone and the MS seemed to cater to all of the most undesirable aspects of early adolescence – particularly the focus on emotions I really don’t think that many boys want to spend 20″ a day NSTing (navel-gazing in groups) .

  4. I find the lack of male teachers in the elementary/middle school grades troubling. I’ve been substitute teaching, and I can count the number of male teachers throughout the entire district on one hand. I think it is important for boys and girls to have male teachers. There needs to be better efforts in recruiting male teachers. I guess this has a lot to do with salary. I take it salary for the primary grades is low. Are school districts really making the effort?