I am feeling rather angry today and so probably not the best time to write a blog post but I can’t ignore this any longer!
This week I have come across two blog posts which to me are blatantly sexist and I can’t for the life of me understand why the writers concerned had to write like this. This, coupled with the appointment earlier this year of all-male board at IATEFL, has led me to wonder exactly where we are heading with regard to gender in ELT.
OK, so I grew up in the seventies, women’s lib and all that and I wholeheartedly believe in equality, not just in gender, but for all, and this is no feminist rant, what I feel really is a very deep sense of disappointment and yes, hurt. I also have one burning question – why?
The first post is on the Busy teacher blog 10 Reasons Why Men are Better at Teaching Than Women I couldn’t find the name of the writer (but from the picture I think male). He balances the point here with a sister post (no pun intended!) called 10 Reasons Why Women Are Better At Teaching Than Men’ I simply don’t understand why this has to be discussed along gender lines at all! How many male/female teachers has he observed to draw these conclusions? If we look at the 10 points then he basically seems to be saying that male teachers are good disciplinarians and logicians so their students get better results and female teachers are more empathetic and sensitive and are somehow more approachable for students. This could have walked out of an education article from the 1950s or 60s have we learned nothing in the intervening years?
Where is the evidence? Are all women colleagues you know warm and fluffy and all male colleagues strict and task-driven? As for men being better at grammar – I’ve been a teacher trainer and I can say on my very small sample of trainees that this is very debatable.
The second post was written by Jonathan on his blog Teaching Plugged-in and entitled ELT and the infantilisation of
the adult learner . I know that Jonathan can be controversial (though I felt his attack on Mario Rinvolucri was a little harsh) and I admire his ability to throw out ideas that might cause debate, I really feel we need much more of this in ELT. But, this post just seemed to dismiss female teachers as unfit for purpose (fortunately the comments acceded as much) and the picture I got as I read was one of the ‘little housewife doing a bit of teaching for pin money’ surely we’ve moved beyond this in the 21st century. More importantly – how does he know? – where’s the evidence? His attack on this female teacher is based, it seems, on one student’s ‘experience’ (and one-sided) – gossip and hearsay.
Just as there are many different types of student, there are also many different types of teacher, we are not just male teachers and female teachers and this kind of generalisation on what seems to be very flimsy evidence is not appropriate. Certainly, we can argue the merits of different approaches, methodologies and start a real debate about these but please lets not do any more female (or male for that matter) bashing!
As for the decision of IATEFL to appoint an all-male board I have only one word to say – SHOCKING!