At a party I attended a few years ago, I was enchanted by a guy who gravitated towards me and my son and spontaneously began singing songs to us – preschool classics like “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and “Three Little Fishes.” When I asked him how he knew all that material – he looked too young to be a father – he told me that he used to work at a day care center. Just as I was scanning my memory banks and trying to recall ever having seen a male employee at our preschool, he elaborated – “but I quit, because I got tired of everyone assuming I was a child molester.”
My seven-year-old son has yet to be in a class led by a male teacher, and as my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter is preparing to enter preschool, she’ll also be entering a world populated exclusively by women. The only male role models she’ll have at preschool will be her peers, and I’m not sure they will be able to give her the same kind of learning experience a caring adult could. A caring adult would certainly be less likely to knock down her tower of blocks or roll over her sandcastle with a Tonka truck.
The National Education Association recently released figures that the number of male teachers just hit a forty-year low nationally. Teaching has long been a female-dominated field, but recently, men seem to be leaving in droves, despite the so called “teacher shortage.” Couple this trend with the “Fatherless Brooklyn” single moms, and you may have significant numbers of small children coming to the conclusion that the world must be run by women. Are they in for a surprise.
Of course, it won’t be long before these kids get old enough to start noticing things like the fact that our country has never had a female president, or that male teachers typically don’t come into their schooling until the academics get more serious. By that point, many will come away with the impression that caring for small children is women’s work, and for the most part, they’ll be right.