The school board and the headteacher asked the university project whether the special school (“Förderzentrum für soziale und emotionale Entwicklung” in German) could receive support from the student assistants. “Male role models are very important for these pupils,” says the "rent a teacherman" project leader, Dr. Christoph Fantini from the University of Bremen. The facility needs dedicated and open male educators who also have a high level of sensitivity and ability to reflect on diversity-sensitive matters. “And we all know that you can find them here.” The "rent a teacherman" project supports primary schools in Bremen and Bremerhaven where there are no or only a few male teachers. The educational science scholar explains further: “As the learning groups in this school need to be very small, we are still able to do a great deal in times of corona.” The significance of such a good service is probably even more important in the current situation. “Homeschooling has especially problematic effects on school pupils in less privileged family scenarios.” Pupils from the boys’ school definitely are some of them. The educationalist deplores that there are not yet sufficient services in the normal school system for this group. “It is desirable that exclusion of these particularly disadvantaged boys from usual services be better avoided by means of early support initiatives,” he states with regards to policy. Inclusion is to be as comprehensive as possible so that the stigma surrounding special education does not even have a chance to be written into the biographies of the children and youths.
"Valuable Support for All"
“We are very pleased about the support we are receiving from the teacherman project,” says headteacher Bastian Hartwig. “The complex developmental matters of our school pupils find very valuable interaction partners with the young colleagues that add to our team. Said partners bring new impulses to the direct work on relationships and very different experiences into the sometimes very strained biographies of our pupils.” This holds great potential for positive efficacy experiences and amazing results concerning role-based relationship dynamics and educational actions for pupils, the team, and also the young colleagues.
Students Profit from Experiences with Pupils
This work is a valuable experience for the teacher education students and is obviously a win-win situation for both parties: “In situations where the pupils ask me about my interests and opinions and then follow my lead, I notice that they need male contact persons. That is why I am a part of "rent a teacherman",” says Jonas Taucke. His fellow student Finn Schmidt adds: “With time, I noticed that many students’ initial skepticism turned into trust and they now have deep conversations with me and specifically initiate such talks.”
About the "rent a teacherman" Project
The model project "rent a teacherman" was established in 2012 and is a cooperation between the university and the education department in Bremen. Since its foundation, teacher education students have been working as education assistants in primary schools in Bremen and Bremerhaven. They are prepared for this task and accompanied through it by means of an education class at the university. What started out as small is now a recognized model project – and not only in Germany. In 2015, the Council of Europe awarded the rating “good practice for gender equality in education in Germany.” The project intends to offer male contact persons to children of school age. The “teachermen” receive a small wage for their work.
Too Few Men in Schools
According to Fantini, there are currently ten primary schools in Bremen that do not have one male teaching staff member. “The complete lack of men is not only extremely stereotyping for boys and girls with regard to the actually desired diversity of gender roles,” he explains. “Above all, there is a lack of contact persons for young men in situations where they do not really want to turn to a woman, or maybe just want their conversation partner to be of the same gender.” The fact that female staff are generally appointed as contact persons for young girls, for example during field trips, has been obvious for a while now. “However, the situation is different for boys.”
Aim: Creation of Pool of Qualified Teacher Education Students
According to the researcher, only restricted changes can be made to the described situation regarding the composition of permanently employed teaching staff in the near future. That is why a pool of qualified teacher education students is to be created. Primary schools – especially those without male teachers – are to be able to request teaching staff for temporary implementation. Areas of implementation could, for example, be boys’ projects or working groups, such as cooking, reading, sewing, gardening work, sport, school trips, swimming lessons, gender homogenous units for sex education lessons for boys, as well as other opportunities. “We work according to the individual needs of each school,” states Fantini.
www.maenner-in-die-grundschule.de (in German only)
Dr. Christoph Fantini
Project Leader – rent a teacherman
Faculty 12: Pedagogy and Educational Sciences
University of Bremen
Email: cfantiniprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de