Thursday, January 22, 2009

British Parents want more men to be school teachers, survey shows

Parents are calling for more men to become teachers because they fear their children lack male role models, research showed yesterday. Demand is even stronger among single mothers, who told the survey their children had little contact with men in caring roles. The study found one in six children living with a single mother spends less than two hours a week with a male role model, such as a father figure, relative or teacher. One in three of these children has such contact for under six hours a week.

Over the past 20 years there has been a dramatic decline in the number of men working in schools and nurseries and a growing trend for children never to be taught by a man. The slump in male recruitment has been blamed on a perception among men that teaching, especially of young children, is 'women's work' and that they risk false allegations of child abuse.

But 55 per cent of parents in yesterday's poll said they wanted to see male staff working with the youngest children. This rose to 66 per cent among single mothers. More than a third of all those polled agreed that male teachers give boys someone to look up to and set a good example. A quarter believe boys behave better if taught by a man. A majority of parents told the survey that men and women have different skills to offer young children and that nurseries should better reflect the real world's gender mix. But despite the demand for male staff, almost two-thirds of the 1,000 parents polled said the childcare they use has no male worker.

The Children's Workforce Development Council, which commissioned the survey, said it wanted to encourage more men to see childcare and nursery work as a viable career. Campaigns are already underway to encourage more men into primary and secondary teaching. Thom Crabbe, the council's national development manager for early years education, said: 'Parents are right to want to see more men working in early years. 'It is important that during the crucial first five years of a child's life they have quality contact with both male and female role models.'

However, there are signs that the economic downturn may change the make-up of the teaching profession. The Teaching and Development Agency has seen the number of potential applicants shoot up 50 per cent on this time last year. In the past two and a half months, 424,802 people made inquiries through their website - up from 283,641 during the same period a year earlier. There is no gender breakdown but the increase is thought to be linked to rising redundancies in areas such as banking, manufacturing and transport, which have mostly male workforces.


Australia: Disgusting "postmodern" university media studies program still in deep Doo Doo

If a conservative had made a film called "Laughing at the Disabled", there would have been hell to pay. But if you are a "postmodern" Leftist, your university will back you to the hilt -- and even attack your critics

Queensland University of Technology and one of its PhD filmmakers, Michael Noonan, face a maximum $250,000 damages claim after mediation talks with an Aboriginal woman broke down. The dispute, which has ramifications for how research involving indigenous people is conducted, has moved to the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia after conciliation talks were terminated.

Brisbane solicitor Stephen Kerin, representing May Dunne, has alleged the Boulia elder was racially vilified by depicting her as an intoxicated Aboriginal woman in a stereotypical manner in video footage as part of Mr Noonan's PhD project, "Laughing at the Disabled". Ms Dunne has denied she ever signed a consent form authorising her appearance in the film which has the working title "Darren & James' Down Under Mystery Tour". Mr Noonan maintains that he is holding a consent form signed by Ms Dunne after she danced with one of the disabled men in the Boulia pub.

Mr Noonan maintains that the clip shown at his confirmation hearing, the "Boulia pub scene", has been unnecessarily demonised by his academic opponents, John Hookham and Gary MacLennan, and was unlikely to have ever made the pilot.

In April 2007 two QUT academics, Dr MacLennan and Dr Hookham, wrote an article in the HES condemning the project as an unethical exercise in mockery. A dispute on many fronts was unleashed. QUT convicted Dr MacLennan and Dr Hookham on disciplinary charges, apparently on the basis they had overstepped the limits of civil debate. They said QUT had trampled academic freedom. The two academics responded with a Federal Court challenge, which was settled on confidential terms. They resigned, were cleared of misconduct charges and walked away with $200,000 each, the HES reported.

QUT is named as the second respondent to the latest complaint as Mr Kerin alleges it gave ethical clearance to Mr Noonan's PhD project, which included the footage depicting Ms Dunne. A QUT spokeswoman told the HES yesterday it is not appropriate for the university to comment on a matter that will be before the courts.


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