Inspire the next generation and teach is the key message of the Mary Immaculate College (MIC) pre-CAO Change of Mind deadline campaign highlighting the positive impact male teachers have had on, in particular, the lives of male students and as a result these students’ interest in pursuing primary school teaching as a career.
The campaign is set against a backdrop of the current low levels of males teaching at primary school level in Ireland, with official Department of Education statistics putting it at just 20%.
As part of this campaign MIC hit schoolyards and classrooms to chat with Leaving Certificate students to find out how they have been inspired by their male teachers, and why they're now considering teaching as a career choice. The ‘MIC on the Yard with the Teachers of Tomorrow’ and ‘A Day in the life of a Primary School Teacher’ video campaigns, which launch this week and will run up to the CAO Change of Mind deadline (1 of July), feature male senior cycle students views on what makes a good teacher as well as insights into what a typical day in the life of a teacher involves.
According to Professor Emer Ring, Dean of MIC’s Faculty of Education: “At MIC we are acutely aware of the need for children to be taught, and nurtured, by both men and women and the benefits that stem from this. Teaching is an exciting, dynamic and professionally fulfilling career with multiple rewards and opportunities. We all remember those teachers whose influence continues to be a positive and lasting force in our lives. Education is a rapidly changing and vibrant arena as new research, emerging on a daily basis, deepens our understanding of how children learn and develop, and how a diverse workforce is key.
“It is important to also acknowledge the challenges facing those wishing to pursue a career in teaching from the high academic standards, career stereotypes, and pay considerations. However, at MIC we continue to advocate for teaching as a profession and we are committed to attracting more males into it with career satisfaction, professional development, work/life balance, and value to society among some of the many reasons for both males, and females, to consider teaching.”
National and international academic research also supports the need for more males to enter into teaching. Research shows that having male, and female, teachers contributes to children’s gender knowledge, and learning from others they perceive as similar fosters a sense of belonging and reduces instances of disruptive behaviour. It can also help students to better understand how to interact with adults who are different from themselves positively.
Male teachers acting as role models, and the consequent benefits, was highlighted by the students interviewed for the campaign, with many of them now considering teaching as a ‘great career’ option and their ‘top choice’ for the CAO Change of Mind application. They added that having fun, being patient, respectful and understanding were key to what makes a good teacher and, if applied, results in better learning outcomes and co-operation in the classroom.
According to current primary school teacher Mark O’Sullivan, who features in the MIC ‘Week in the Life of a Primary School Teacher’ video: “My interest in teaching stemmed from the role models that taught me throughout my years in school, including male teachers, and for me, my experience to date, of teaching has been great. I love working with students, and educating them on the skills and knowledge they’ll use for rest of their lives. Teaching as a career opens doors to so many experiences and opportunities and I look forward to seeing where my career takes me.”
Professor Ring adds: “As a primary school teacher, you have the opportunity to effect transformative change in the lives of children, families and ultimately the broader society. A primary teaching qualification can be the start of an exciting journey filled with adventure and possibilities. Teaching as a profession is continuing to evolve with multiple specialised roles at leadership, classroom levels and beyond the classroom itself.
“Initial teacher education programmes at MIC are based on cutting-edge research in education and you will have access to lecturers who are renowned experts in their fields nationally and globally. Studying at MIC will provide you with multiple opportunities to deepen your own knowledge and understanding of how children learn and develop while at the same time providing you with an opportunity to develop your own interests. You will have many opportunities to spend time in a diversity of classrooms during the school placement experiences that will be part of your programme at MIC.”
Based on her own teaching career Professor Ring went on to say her journey as Dean of Early Childhood and Teacher Education started as a primary teacher in a three-teacher rural school many years ago. Following further study in the area of special education, she worked as a senior inspector with the Department of Education prior to joining MIC in 2011. Being a teacher has allowed her to travel extensively and explore other education systems in places like Dubai, Qatar, India, Italy and the United States.
She adds: “I would encourage you to consider studying here with us at MIC and taking a first step on what can truly be an endless adventure and one that has the potential to effect lasting and real change.”
Find out more about MIC’s Bachelor of Education degrees at www.mic.ie/CAO