The paper "Role models, school improvement and the ‘gender gap’ Do men bring out the best in boys and women the best in girls?" ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4230120.stm ) claims that:
"Contrary to the political rhetoric often used to justify measures to bolster male recruitment to the profession, we found no empirical evidence to support the claim that there is a tendency for male teachers to enhance the educational performance of boys and, conversely, for female teachers to enhance the educational performance of girls."
Let's look first at how the authors interpret their results. In their "Discussion and Conclusions" section, they state:
"For various reasons, caution should be exercised when drawing conclusions from this study,"
and they go on to list reasons why their results might not apply to all ages or in all schools. That sounds reasonable enough.
But then they state:
"Leaving aside the limitations of our study, how are current teacher recruitment policies to be assessed in the light of its findings? If the overriding concern of policy makers is to devise effective measures to reduce the socalled ‘gender gap’ in achievement (and attitude), then it could be argued that current attempts to persuade more men to take up teaching posts may be somewhat misplaced."
This is self-contradictory: either one should be cautious about interpreting these results or one should not. Here the authors are having it both ways -- appearing nice and scientific by advocating caution, and then abruptly revealing their real political agenda by throwing all that academic caution to the winds! Even if we grant (very reluctantly!) that Education is a properly academic field at all, there seems to be little in the way of academic ethics in existence to stop these "academics" from crossing the line into politics.
Although I am an ex-teacher and have long been interested in the topic of how to improve boys' performance in schools, I have never thought that the issue was mainly about role-models. I have never had hard facts to base this idea on, but this study is valuable in (apparently) being the first to test such issues empirically.
Let's truly be cautious about the results of this single study, but let's assume, for the sake of argument, that its findings can be replicated for all ages and in all countries. It still would not follow that it is wrong-headed to try to get more male teachers into schools. As you could see by reading my articles, "What About Us ? Boys in Schools and Men in Society" and "Good Men from Good Boys", I see the issue as being mainly one of values, not of role-models.
The solution to relatively poor performances by boys in schools is two-fold:
Get more male teachers into schools;
Free schools from Feminist ideological domination.
Both steps have to be carried out. The crucial step is the second one, but it cannot be carried out without carrying out the first one as well. However, most western male teachers are Feminists, so just carrying out the first step is not enough.
Western societies are really quite insane, because the majority of the population runs around believing that men oppress women, as if this was some hugely intelligent insight that they had managed to gain all by themselves. Law Schools, in my (limited) experience, are full of hugely moronic lecturers who believe this. In fact, of course, they have been taught to think this by the education system (which is where I started this article) and by the media.
Teachers believe this, and teach each other and their students this theory, which undermines the morale of both the male students and the male teachers.
Now you're going to say that it's obviously appropriate to teach this theory, because it's true. I have to admit: if it were true, then it would be appropriate to teach it, even if it was bad for men's and boys' morale.
But it is not true ! Name one single Feminist book that has systematically compared the relative advantages and disadvantages of men's lives and women's lives under the "Patriarchy". You can't. because there isn't one. Feminists just aren't interested in men's problems, because any attention paid to them would undermine their frantic and continuous effort to drum up sympathy for women's "suffering".
After getting more male teachers into the schools, therefore, we have to deprogram all the brainwashed teachers. If this involves throwing the teacher-union activists into dungeons for corruptly using union funds to brainwash people with Feminist dogmas, then I, for one, would be delighted with that outcome !