Today, I asked my Arab students to come up with a topic for a “compare and contrast” essay. They voted for a comparison of male to female teachers. My plan was to then divide the class, which is co-ed, into groups; one would come up with reasons why male teachers were better, the other with reasons why female teachers were. I assumed the women would want to promote female teachers, and the men male.
Wrong. Both groups balked. Both insisted that men were clearly preferable to women as teachers, and neither wanted to argue the converse. I insisted it was the best practice to argue a position you do not accept yourself, and finally, the men, in a gentlemanly gesture, agreed to argue for female teachers.
The men insisted they did not believe their own arguments in favour of female teachers. The women, though, came up with this list of reasons why men are better teachers than women. I think it is suggestive:
They give lady students more attention than the men.
They make games to make the subject easier to understand and more interesting.
They listen to our opinions about activities and class rules.
They don’t give us stuff that is too hard or complicated.
They are kind and excuse us if we have a problem or appointment.
Women give all their attention to the men and forget the ladies.
Women make the class more boring than men.
Men’s style is more creative than women’s style.
Men give the students time to get to know them.
Women do not respect our opinion.
Women talk to us as if we are children, not adults.
Women want to control everything we do.
Of course I am pleased with the result; though I have to admit it may have something to do with Arab politeness, given that they are saying all this to a male teacher. Nevertheless, we all admit now that there are definite mental as well as physical differences between men and women. It might well follow that men are better suited for teaching, at least at the higher levels, than women.