Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 09 Aug 2007

Iím a new, male graduate who would like to be a primary school teacher but worry how people will react

Hillary's Advice

A good lesson to learn at the start of your adult life and that is that other peopleís opinions are nothing to do with you. You canít change them. You canít even really know what they are. So put them out of your mind and follow your own ambitions.

If you want to work with young children, then do so. Being a primary school teacher is a demanding, rewarding profession. And If other people think that makes you less of a man than going into some hairy-chested job like insurance broking thatís their problem, not yours. Likewise if they think it makes you a predatory paedophile -- all that says is what a sad, suspicious, over-sexualised world we now live in.

Yes, primary school teaching is a womanís world, and you may find yourself the only man in the staffroom. But possibly not for that long. Many schools have found that other men tend to show up at the door once a lone soul has blazed the way.

And you can be sure you will doing a vital job. Last term I watched a burly ex-policeman, now a teaching assistant, working patiently and firmly with a group of troubled youngsters. Most of these children came from homes without fathers, where transient boyfriends were the order of the day, and it was clear that the reliable presence of an authoritative, caring man was doing wonders for these boysí motivation and desire to prove themselves. Just as children need mothers and fathers to thrive, so they also need both men and women teachers to bring out the best in them in school.