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This is behind the classroom door a series of discussions produced by w r u f and the College of Education at Northern Illinois University and distributed by the national educational radio network. Our topic for this program is the man problem in elementary schools. Where are our men teachers. There is the moderator. Dean Robert after all. We have been titled The entire series behind the classroom door. He doesn't mean we have too many secrets except that we do have and do quite a bit of experience to me in the area of preparing teachers for elementary schools and actually teaching myself. When Dr. Leo lawful head of administration and services and you know what your background with regard to elementary education. Well my first teaching experience was in an elementary school. It was a one room rural school where children were enrolled in grades 1 through Grade 8.
Oh Imagine then how many would you have many in a one room school in that size. Well in my first rural school in which I taught there were 40 youngsters in grades 1 through 8 and we had children in every grade level. I can't imagine the scheduling. I want to stay with that kind of work. I stayed in that and that type of work for four years. Then I went on to college and got my bachelor's degree in elementary education and as a result of that degree I moved into a principal ship an elementary school. When Lloyd Leonard and Dr. Lloyd Leonard is head of the department of elementary education at Northern Illinois University this is one of the largest department in the state and produces the largest number of elementary teachers in the state of Illinois. LLOYD What's your preparation I suspect you had a little contact with elementary school children.
Yes I started my teaching career as a one room school schoolteacher long Dr loft. I completed a two year program back in Iowa before World War Two and taught for two years in a large elementary so a large one room rural school I had about 35 to 40 children I recall that I had five beginners first year five eighth graders and one or more students in every grade. If you like and there are certain are you that it's your Doctor Leonard. Do you recall your experience with these first graders. As I look back on my days that I spent with this first grade I was one of the most challenging teaching situations I was ever in. When these. Children would come in to the classroom not knowing on how to read and you sure had something to measure though you could determine progress as a year when you realized how difficult the task of learning to read is you
know I don't think I indicated yet that we're devoting our attention today to the American problem and elementary education. I'm sure there's many a young unmarried teacher who thinks of another type of man problem an elementary education. But today we're really thinking about the scarcity of man and elementary teaching in spite of the fact that Dr. Laughlin and Dr. Leonard and I all were initially involved in teaching and administering at the elementary school level in my case just to complete the picture here. I finished my bachelor's degree at Northern Illinois University with the professional aspects of it devoted to elementary education. And of course this was the case with each of you. Some people thought that all the time you spend in your four year program is devoted to the methods of teaching and nothing could be further from the truth. Actually I have a major at the
undergraduate level in English and another major in psychology and then the professional preparation is in elementary education. And how interesting this is been to me all my life because of young children. To me our most intriguing and I suspect your elementary education bachelor's degree had another type of emphasis also didn't a 200 yards is not a fact. I completed this two year program for elementary teaching. Then when I completed my bachelor's degree I majored in biological science in political and social science and Dr. Laughlin How about you. What were your other earth and she's young. When you did your bachelor's degree program my training was similar to Dr Leonards. I had the major in elementary education but I also had a minor in English and a minor in social science. So you know here it is so interesting that the three of us
even starting our in our study back many years were in elementary education. And yet today I can recall so clearly speaking to the new students coming to Northern University and seeking to enroll in elementary education. And you could hardly find a boy in the audience. Now the older women are wonderful young women I suspect they're the cream of the crop as far as our culture is concerned. But very few young men seem to be going into elementary education how do you account for this. Well I think that many young men think there is something wrong about go wrong with going into elementary education I know here in northern that we have about 10 percent males and elementary add. I recall that when I came here five years ago the percentage was much less than it had been in a previous institution where I was teaching in Minnesota. I wonder if in our society our culture at least don't
like to imagine what they're going to be history teachers or football coaches somehow or other young men leaving high school at 18. I don't view this as exciting and socially desirable occupation. I have some statistics here concerning a study that was carried on in 1958. At that time the study was covered a large portion of the United States showed that forty nine and five tenths percent of all secondary school teachers were men. While only 13 percent of the elementary school teachers were men I think that's about the way it is now. Well the. Well this would just appear to indicate that teaching in the elementary school just does not appeal to these young men. I think in some communities however in the United States that the present is much higher in some than others for example. I know that in some large cities where they strive to employ men the percent who have more percentage is
much higher. And I also know that in the state of Oregon that I think the percent is somewhere between 25 and 30 percent elementary teachers are male. Well you know Lloyd you have been concerned if I have them with the fact that many a teacher finishing with lives particularly majoring in history where there's an enormous oversupply of teachers and found that he couldn't get a job at the secondary school level and then simply because our certification regulations are so free he's moved into the elementary school to teach. What do you think about this. Understand that at least half of our secondary prepared. History or social science teachers to elementary school teaching gyms. Of course they're not fully prepared to teach because at the sixth grade level they have to teach reading any other language arts they have to teach mathematics they have to teach. Sometimes art and
music for example. They may be well-prepared to teach the social sciences but that's to be the end of their training is really a different emphasis isn't there now an elementary IDE you're thinking of the individual you're thinking of his adjustment his motivation his psychology. You're trying and you're with these children most of the day. This to me is one of the most thrilling things about working with a group of young people because you were close to Larry to the basic personality attributes. When you consider that the history of this country there appears to be certain times when more men did go into elementary school teaching now in the early days of this country in the time of the colonization settlement and so on. The schoolmaster was commonly employed to teach school and during the development of this early school system of course we had private schools in men were predominant in the teaching positions. But with the coming of the public
school women entered the teaching profession fashion in larger numbers and by the close of World War One women teachers prevailed throughout the country and in the elementary school. But then when the depression of the 1930s came along there was a movement again of men into elementary education because there were some very fine jobs open to the men. When men are badly needed I think it's not that we don't want to deprecate the ladies do we but it seems to me that our country is providing for its young children from birth through say eighth graders sixth grade A rather feminine world. There's many a child who hardly knows his father because he commutes and goes to work before he's up and returns after the youngsters in bed. And he doesn't even see his father on Sunday when he plays golf when he moves into an elementary school
where it's possible there is not one man in the room and I can remember in my own entry school situation the only man wearing the custody and and the principal. And we love the custodian we men used to search him out to have him sharpen our pencils. Because just with the excuse of having contact with them I think it's rather important don't you Dr Leonard that there be some contact between young boys and girls and the male personality along the way. Yes yes I don't think there's any question about what there's a need for a male personality in the elementary school as small children. For many of their concepts of course about life and shape the personalities when they're when they're very young children actually in the classroom itself is really rather confined and clean an artificial atmosphere. It's one of the reasons we advocate outdoor education where they can get out
and study science and everything else in the out-of-doors. I'd like to raise this question At what stage is school or what grade level that you encounter your first man teacher. As I look back at my first min and teacher was a general science teacher in the ninth grade. Well that's about the time I didn't have one man teacher all the way through eight grades when we had our men tutors in high school we were afraid of them. For one thing when after we came to knew them we like them because there are some sex differences. Fortunately the men are not quite as sensitive I think and as women when dealing with young people and perhaps that's why it's good for women to be in the very early Grange. Well I understand Leo you taught as low as the first grade and Lloyd even had a contact in kindergarten. Their grade is about the lowest I've taught but I I sense that children are eager for this masculine home tact man has more circumstantial he works with major things and he's a little bit
rushed but there's something about a man we discover that one boys and girls are say third or fourth grade and he loved to have a man teacher you know or man teacher frequently can succeed very well simply because of his need. We certainly want the child to identify with the adult of the same sex and that if the child comes from a home for example where there is no father and if he goes to school where there are no male teachers he has a difficult time identifying with the male sex if it's a little boy. Well I think that's more important today than it was when we were our rural society and father was home. Working near the home on a farm or some situation such as that but today one father leaves for the office early in the morning and comes home in the evening when it's dark quiet the child just does not have a man with whom he can identify closely. One of the things that has been bothering me for some time is
the apparent lack of masculinity that we see in our young men and perhaps some of the excess of masculinity and young women which we don't like particularly but and I wonder how the home for women the only way I can account for it is lack of identification with one's own sex as you've indicated. You have to learn how to be a man. And young boys growing up probably should have contacted him through experiences in hunting and fishing and hiking and working with their fathers and then they should move into the elementary schools and it would seem to me most desirable if at about the third fourth level fourth grade level we could have a man in contact with young children. There is also the authority figure in the school today. The majority of authority figures in the elementary school are or in a child's life are teachers and I just don't think it's a normal situation when
all the authority figures and not lives of a child are women. It seems to me that some of the interests that children acquire along the way are encouraged by the male teacher. And perhaps even discouraged by the female teacher. How do you react to that. Lloyd I think that happens. I know that I think its research has shown that men are more interested and have more skill. For example in mathematics and science than a typical female teacher and of course we know that boys and small boys at an early age have a real interest in science. And also in mathematics. So I think that's very true. Some of the sex studies have been interesting you know we wondered what were the qualities of a woman versus the man intellectually and academically speaking
those standardized tests demonstrate that women are better in verbal abilities all that whole school of verbal abilities writing and speaking whereas men tend to be better as you've indicated in science and in mathematics they're a little better in some mechanical things spatial judgment you know women are better and find muscle interaction so there are many kinds of occupations such as putting radios together and things of that nature where the woman is better than the men. I might say that there are there have been some good studies made in recent years during the 1960s on this issue of the man versus the woman in the elementary classroom. I know one study was was made in 1066 where there were 600 boys where they had 28 women teachers and 17 men teachers. And this study showed that there were no differences in the gains of the fifth grade boys that were
participating in this study whether they were with men or women teachers. Then there was another study made a little earlier I think about 1960 where they studied the personal social characteristics of fourteen hundred elementary teachers both male and female. And I recall that they found that that men were less responsible and businesslike in classroom behavior but they were more favorable toward democratic classroom procedures. They were more inclined to be permissive. They were. And but they were more emotionally stable than the women. You better be careful when you say that Lloyd. At any rate there are important significant differences and although it might be the same I wonder about continuing interest. You know our society again doesn't encourage women to participate in scientific things at Christmas time we give our little boys their space helmets and we give out little girls
dolls. So we start to establish these roles very early in the typical elementary teacher and of course the female is in the majority finds it difficult to encourage science and I believe that we view the teaching of science as one of our weakest areas of the elementary school level. This is lamentable at a time like this and particularly when children are interested in science. Well I definitely agree with that Dean that a man in an elementary school will provide the elementary children with an effective vocational model now this would be particularly true of the boys who would need a model such as that. I think there's another problem here that we haven't touched upon and that is that traditionally the pay in the elementary school has been lower than in the high school. And of course the young man going into teaching is you know with a he's usually married he's raising a
family. He needs to make as much money as possible and so that alone would would cause him to return to the high school to high school teaching where he can make more money. Well I think that practically all good school systems nowadays have what is called a single salary schedule in that when they want to use in kindergarten or the senior level of high school one gets the same salary for the same preparation and experience being taught by I think that's true in this area where we have the unified school district but there are still a few where there's a separate high school if you're not too far from home. We have two districts are separate and they have separate salary schedules for the elementary school and the separate salary schedule for the secondary school. There's no absolutely no reason for a teacher to receive more pay at the secondary level than the elementary level and I think it ought to be reversed. And you indicated earlier Dr. Leonard the act and the task of teaching a young child to
read or to acquire is number concepts. These are things that are the most difficult tasks of the human organism faces in this lifetime. They're well on the way by the time they go to secondary levels. I don't imagine I'd start much of an argument with this group. There are fights in my opinion the best teacher in the school system ought to be teaching at the first grade level. I think most teachers would agree with that Dr. Laughlin especially those first grade teachers and a contribution that is made by those primary teachers and is you know measurable and you know back to salaries and the man problem I think that in general education was not attracting as many men as it could because men could earn higher salaries in other occupations and whereas women. Could not in many cases teaching morals and me was the highest paid occupation for women that existed. So men didn't go in at all in the proportions that they should. Fortunately now salaries are
going up and they are attracting more men and more capable women also. Well I wonder what can be done about it here. Dr. Leonard you had this big Elementary Education Department and Dr. Laughlin you had up the big administrated department that prepares men in other areas. Well the first thing that I would suggest in attempting to recruit more men for the elementary school field would be to. Establish some system of counseling or guidance among men who are interested in education as a profession. What level I do see it is operating well beginning at the freshman level in college and continuing at least through the sophomore level in college and point out to these young men the wonderful
opportunities of life for them as they enter the field of elementary education. Well counseling could start even earlier than that and it's been said that the high school counselor has more impact in the occupational choice of high school graduates than any other individual. The high school senior just gravitated to that cultural or for advice and information. Of course I was died long before that I think the parent has a tremendous impact upon the the profession that a child chooses and I think that if we do get parents thinking realizing let's say that there's nothing wrong with their son who wants to become an elementary teacher there's nothing wrong with their son who wants to spend his life in elementary education I think if we get parents thinking that way that would help a lot. I know there. There are still people who think there's something wrong with the young man who wants to go into elementary education. I think there's something wrong with a young man who was interested and
and likes to work with small children. I miss it now. I don't I don't think those people ever stop to think that in the home the father is just as interested in that little child as the mother is I've stopped our culture the water the mother has more time with the child and sometimes assumes more responsibility. What you're right for some reason or other and it's just not true. Young man on leave you view elementary teaching as not being very appropriate for them. In my discussions with young men who entered the profession of elementary education I had been told by them that it is the peer group their own peer group that exerts tremendous pressures on them. This is one of the reasons for others not entering the field of elementary education. It seems to be a profession that is not highly regarded among young men and
that that is something that we have to to break. Well I think education the possible teacher might help you know in my talking with prospect of teachers I. I frequently ask them how are they interested in people. Are they interested in human psychology. And if they are then I point out that you couldn't he. You can teach history 100 and for 10 years and it isn't going to be many years before you are not going to be so excited about the subject matter that you're teaching. But I don't think you ever get tired of the contact with young people. And particularly during those early years when one teacher can make a tremendous change in the development of a child so that the child will have become something that he would not have become otherwise. Well Ally in developing a program to recruit more young men for
the elementary field I think that we would have to provide some means of getting this information across to these young people. The opportunities for advancement in the elementary profession is probably greater than in any other area of education. As men become administrators like principals superintendents they become supervising teachers and they become critical coordinators. Well of course many of that we would like to remain as teachers they can move on to their master's degree perhaps specializing in some aspect of elementary education like Remedial reading. Or they can become audiovisual coordinators and still continue to do teaching. There's another area that I think could be explored to an attempt to bring more young men into elementary education to develop an interest.
It appears that some of these fellows feel that they don't have anything off for youngsters and so they shy away from working with these young children. But on the other hand many young men find employment in the summer time working at swimming pools working as well as lifeguards on beaches work and skating rinks. I think going to teaching by working with youngsters that way that they realise this is rather interesting. Perhaps I might make a career of it. I think we're going to see a change in the future. I know that 25 years ago when I first started in teaching most of the elementary school principals were women. Today when I attend a meeting of elementary school principals like a state meeting or national meeting the women are in a minority. And I know that the same thing can happen in the classroom.
I I think that principals have a lot to do with this in the schools. I don't think that the principals for example should hold many teachers to let's say female norms of behavior in their schools I think we need to change that I think that because most of the teachers in elementary schools have been women that when a man comes in to teach many times they're expected to do a lot of the same things that the women do. And they're different about their preparation program I think in the past you know young men have worried about having to go to a different diet. Courses in elementary education I think we are to blame there I think that perhaps we should take do the same thing that I just said the principal should do. We shouldn't expect men to go through exactly the same program as a woman and we should expect them to to be different. Lloyd in your department I think you're doing something that's just wonderful and probably the most one of the most powerful things you possibly could do to attract
men and elementary education. I'm referring to this large number of men college instructors and elementary education that you have on your staff. How many do you have a lawyer on your staff. We have 25 men and that men hold the doctor and elementary education is a specialty Plus a broad background in the content area. That's right at the present time. 23 of the 25 hold doctorates and the other two will have their dockets before September. When you're home well we better summarize here Dr. plume Dr. Lloyd Leonard. We have tried to communicate the nature of the man problem and elementary education. We can try to analyze why MIN didn't seem to want to go into elementary teaching as much as we'd like to have them. We've been to get it it would be most desirable to have a man in contact with young people and that we should do everything we can
to recruit the finest of America's young men to teach at this level that is so significant in our society. Behind the classroom door produced by W and in cooperation with the College of Education at Northern Illinois University each week focuses its attention on one of the many challenging aspects of public school education. The program is moderated by Dr. Robert F. top dean of the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. Today's guests were Dr. Lloyd Leonard head of the department of elementary education at Northern and Dr. Leo Laughlin head of the Department of Administration and services. Next week's topic will be a significant differences between elementary and secondary schools. I'm Fred Pyle and this program is distributed by the national educational radio network.
Behind the Classroom Door
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Behind the Classroom Door is a radio series from WNIU-FM about education in the United States. In each episode, faculty from the Northern Illinois University College of Education address specific issues related to public school education and operation. The program is produced in cooperation with Northern Illinois University and distributed by the National Educational Radio Network.
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Chicago: “Behind the Classroom Door; 4,” 1969-01-09, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 28, 2023,
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APA: Behind the Classroom Door; 4. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from