Boy, 10, asks: Where are my role models?

February 15, 1993|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

Women.

Ten-year-old RoShawn LeGrande is sick of them.

"I've been having female teachers all my life, and I'm getting tired of it," he said. "I just need a male around sometimes, as a role model."

Or as an earpiece for crises, such as how to deal with a fifth-grade breakup or how to understand girls.

The Thunder Hill Elementary School fifth-grader, an only child

who lives with his mother in Ellicott City, is taking matters into his own hands. He's in the middle of a research project, "Men in Education," a study on why so few men become teachers, especially at the elementary school level.

Although his gym, band and gifted-and-talented resource teachers are men, "I've never had a male teacher" for English, math or social studies, said RoShawn, whose parents are divorced. "I've never even had a male teacher in kindergarten or pre-school," he said. "My baby sitter wasn't even a male. Everybody I saw was a female."

In Howard County, almost 20 percent of all teachers -- or about 460 of them -- are males, according to 1991 school records. Fewer than a quarter of the male teachers work in elementary schools, more than a quarter work in middle schools and nearly half work in high schools.

RoShawn's project involves student surveys, teacher surveys and face-to-face interviews with school officials.

He hopes to publish a pamphlet or some other written material at the end of the school year to persuade male high school and college students to become teachers.

"I'm going to get as many men as I can into elementary school teaching," he said.

His research has resulted in interesting discoveries. In his survey of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders he's found that students at a young age hold preconceived notions of men and women in society. When he asked his peers, "Why do you think there are not a lot of male teachers in elementary schools?" he got such responses as:

* Because there are more jobs available for men than women.

* Because women are better at teaching elementary school.

* Because men can get higher-paying jobs.

One student even wrote, "I think that maybe most men just don't want to teach little average-size kids."

RoShawn has his own theory. "Males don't get into it because it's a low-paying job, and they have to support their families," he said.

"Women are more sensitive than men to younger kids," he said. "Men probably like to teach older boys, because they probably understand older boys better."

His gifted and talented resource teacher, Michael Rock, has a different theory. "Males may perceive it not as a high-wage, high-profile macho-type profession," he said.

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