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Where have all the sirs gone?

Male teachers? Well, 'math sir' and 'PT sir' do come to mind, but memories of school are overwhelmingly crowded by ma’ams, reports Sonal Kalra.

delhi Updated: Sep 05, 2008 01:18 IST
Sonal Kalra

Male teachers? Well, 'math sir' and 'PT sir' do come to mind, but memories of school are overwhelmingly crowded by ma’ams. As for principals, more than 70 per cent of co-educational public schools in Delhi have women at the helm. Is it that women make better school administrators, or are the ‘sirs’ missing for other reasons? Hindustan Times speaks to a cross section of principals and students to find out.

A case for ma’am

“A female teacher plays a mother’s role. Kids start school at the tender age of three years and they need nurturing. That’s where a woman principal or teacher has an edge over a man, who might find it tough to deal with such young and impressionable minds,” says Dr Jyoti Bose, Principal, Springdales School, Dhaula Kuan.

Lata Vaidyanathan, Principal, Modern School, Barakhamba Road agrees with her: “Just as a mother is the pivot around which a family revolves, so is a woman teacher or principal in school. Moreover, women are naturally good counsellors, which comes in handy when the kids reach adolescence.”

Counterpoint: “My parents divorced when I was four and my dad got my custody. He has brought me up single-handedly with utmost love and care. I know for sure that men can be as compassionate and understanding as women. I would not give any less marks to a male school principal on that count,” argues Deeksha, 23, mother of a two-year-old.

For sir

Male principals of the city argue that the ‘softer side’ of their female counterparts stands in the way of much needed discipline, especially among senior school students (read boys). “Have you noticed the increasing indiscipline in our schools? Men can better deal with two 18-year-olds indulging in a fistfight,” says R.C. Shekhar, former principal and now director of Gyan Bharti School.

Counterpoint: “Sometimes, emotional counselling works better than a stick. A male principal might be able to run faster after a bunch of erring boys but what’s needed is for someone to put sense into their heads the softer way,” says Vaidyanathan.

Sex no bar

A third group feels a teacher’s gender does not matter. “What matters is the skill of a person as an administrator. You are either good or bad,” says Dr Shyama Chona, principal, DPS, RK Puram.

“It’s an even field. My junior school headmistress is a woman while a man heads the middle school. I see no difference,” adds Goldy Malhotra, principal, Modern School, Vasant Vihar.

Interestingly, ‘anti-incumbency’ seems to be the mood amongst senior students. Those who have woman principals want men to head their schools, and vice versa. “Everyone in our school runs scared of our lady principal. No soft side to her… I would prefer a male principal any day. At least, if we ask for leave citing illness, he won’t ask any questions,” says Sushmita, class 12 student of a Delhi school.

Last word

What’s your preferred husband material — a poor schoolteacher or a loaded MNC executive? And that’s ultimately why men shy away from a teaching career, according to Shekhar. “Women find it easy to take up a career in teaching as they think ghar baith kar kya karenge (why sit idle at home?). Men have to support the family, and there’s no money in teaching,” he adds.

Counterpoint: None. Everyone agrees that, thanks to the poor salaries, teaching isn’t the first career choice for men.