Friday, December 2, 2016

Teaching's 2%: part 2

My prior blog post was about the lack of black men teaching in America.

I learned in my research that the trouble with the lack of diversity isn't just that we view teaching as women's work.  When black men are in teaching jobs, they report feeling underappreciated for their pedagogical knowledge and overappreciated for their disciplinary skills.  The Secretary of Education, John King, Jr., identifies a “invisible tax” on minority teachers.  They are expected to spend more time disciplining and building relationships with their students than white teachers are.  Many black male teachers report being asked to help take care of problem students more often than any of their colleagues.  They also felt like they had to counter stereotypes about how black men act—often by themselves.  

This was a part of the story I had never heard before, and it really got me thinking.  If I were a teacher, would I reach out to a male colleague to help with a “problem” child?  Probably.  Disciplining students sounds like it would be the hardest part of teaching.  I can imagine having trouble with a boy in class and asking a male colleague for help, thinking he would have insight. 

I think the situation that men, and black men in particular, face when they do try to break stereotypes is a great example of how we all need to constantly assess our own biases.  Consulting a co-worker on a difficult situation is not wrong, but if I only consult that co-worker when I want help with disciplining children it might be.  

As we face down a new year with new uncertainties about social policy, it's important to remember that we can only truly control .  I encourage us all to be open to learning that some of our habits have unintended and harmful consequences.  Let's be kind to each other.


Louise Trainor said...

What a great follow up to your first post Josie. I have never considered this topic before and enjoyed reading the insightful articles you linked.
I was reminded of the black male teacher who featured in the documentary "The Mask you Live in", which we watched in class. It portrayed the flip-side to the "tough-love" approach which is described in these articles. The male teacher in the documentary demonstrated how a more emotional, sensitive undertone to young male's schooling makes them more socially-aware and thus better able to interact with society when they grow up.
I was fascinated to learn of the "invisible tax" metaphor which is used to describe this extra burden placed on black male-teachers. While I understand that the role of disciplinarian is attached to teaching, I believe it is up to a school's guidance counselors to connect with the students and monitor their behavior. One could argue that a teacher, despite their ethnic background, is not qualified in this field and should not be made responsible for the rebellious behavior of their students.

Earnest Femingway said...
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Earnest Femingway said...

Josie, thanks for taking the time to write this series of posts. While we spent a lot of time this semester on representation in the media and politics, I think that representation in the classroom is under-discussed. The way that discipline plays out is specifically important because it is a formative experience for a child as well; what may be innocuous at the time could play a large part in assumptions the child makes later in life.
My last post is partially on masculinities; I think Ashanti Branch's general approach to young men goes towards a multitude of problems. As long as men make up a smaller portion of teachers in America, they should be aware of the massive influence they have on young men and take on more responsibility not in discipline but in development.