Saturday, 26 August 2017

Male Teacher Marginalization

There are many issues which the society and indeed schools must come to terms with in order to improve students outcome, as well as to inspire confidence in the leadership of our schools. The rarely discussed issue of male teacher marginalization is very much problematic and is intricately linked to the marginalization of the black male. In fact noted Professor of Teacher Education Errol Miller in his classical work “Marginalization of the Black Male” describes Caribbean societies as having men in marginal positions in the family. Miller’s research highlights the decreasing participation and performance of males in the education system.  In defining marginal, Miller states “marginal is meant not being holders of the reins of power in society, possessing little of the wealth of the society; a sense of being inferior in social status, having a belief system which justifies domination by others”. Miller’s Theory of Place underpins his theory of Male Marginalization. Miller asserts that society is organized on the basis of the place. For Miller, “place” is the position that one gender holds in the society in relation to the other. Therefore, as men move to the periphery of the society, women move to the center or to central positions in the society. According to Miller there are five factors or dimensions responsible for this entity of the place. These are power, resources, status, beliefs and culture. Miller stated an equalitarian society can never be achieved in reality and thus relative inequality is society’s reality. Miller asserts that at any particular moment in time individuals and groups in society will be more central and others more marginal.  The tendency in education circle is one of forgetfulness surrounding the fact that a significant sub-group of the workforce in our schools continues to be marginalized. A growing number of male educators are of the view that female leadership in many of our educational institutions continue to ignore, sideline and show contempt for the concerns of male members of the academic staff.  In fact some male educators are of the opinion that many male teachers are emasculated by an education system and profession which have become feminized. It can be argued that this weakening of the male teacher is being done in a deliberate and systematic manner to wrestle power and prestige from males who historically were the power brokers in most Western societies. This male hegemony in the teaching profession can clearly trace its roots to the emancipation of slavery in 1838 when a number of teacher training colleges were established. However, by 1850 all these teacher training institutions became all male institutions. On the other hand, it can be argued that some male teachers are willing participants regarding the emasculation of their kind. Recently, a colleague referred to the issue of male teacher marginalization as “baggy power”. In defining the term “baggy power” my colleague who works at the primary level of the education system opined that there are too many females as principals and this he adds invariably will lead to conflict with male teachers. While there are some who will raise objection to the term “baggy power” the terminology “baggy power” should not be viewed as sexist or misogynistic. My colleague lamented the need for us not to be so politically correct at times, this he adds result in the message being conveyed  becoming diluted. Men and women tend to excel at different aspects of leadership. Female leaders tend to hold onto and carry grudges and are often emotional, while male leadership on the other tends to be strategic. The issue in my view is not about the number of female versus male principals; it is much deeper than numbers and is rooted in a social psychology of respect. There are basically two types of respect, respect that comes to you based on your position, fame or wealth. This type of respect is impermanent and can be lost once you lose your wealth or status. The other type of respect is derived because of one’s virtues, such as honesty, kindness, patience and commitment. Clearly, the society needs to embrace and engender a culture of gender equality in all spheres of the public and private sector; however, we cannot and should not cuddle a culture of crudeness and disrespect at the same time. I am fully aware that there are some female principals who overstep their reach and authority in an attempt to control male teachers; however, this is usually to the detriment of their institution and of their stewardship. Unfortunately, we live in a society where gender relations are not taken seriously. Sadly, this area of cultural studies is often relegated to the domain of the academic halls of universities where less than twenty percent of the Jamaican population are privileged to pass through. However, the stark reality is that in the workplace both sexes are required to work in unison to achieve the organizational goals and targets of the institution. As a result, more emphasis and training should be given to leaders at both the private and public sectors in the dynamics of gender relations and how this impacts the wider society. Disturbingly, in many instances there are female principals who speak down to male teachers as if they are addressing their children or reprimanding a student. This “boyification” attitude by some female principals is quite out of order and sends the wrong message not only to the males on staff but also to the students at the school. Students are rather perceptive and lead can lead to some form of disrespect towards male teachers based on the principal’s behaviour.  Our boys too also require positive male role models and in many instances male teachers are denied promotion for no particular reason. Too often we have heard of instances whereby male teachers are reprimanded in the public domain, ignoring protocol with the main aim clearly to embarrass the teacher. It is a weak and insecure principal who takes this approach and the time has come for this to stop. This dichotomy of power and power relations is not exclusive to the education system; however, this should be of little comfort to those male teachers who are voiceless due to fear of malice by those in leadership. The adage respect begets respect is most appropriate and should be woven in the culture of every school. Additionally, there is a deficit of trust in many schools and inevitably the school culture becomes toxic and as a result students pay a high price for the weak and vindictive leadership in so many of our schools.  The issue of marginality is not a new phenomenon.
Origin of Marginality
The concept of marginality first appeared in the field of sociology in the early 20th century and has acquired a multiplicity of meanings. According to sociologist, Janet Billson, there are various types of marginality. She identifies three types; cultural marginality, structural marginality and social marginality.  Billson posit the view that cultural marginality is determined by race, ethnicity and religion as well as other cultural indicators. On the other hand, social marginality occurs when an individual is not considered part of a positive reference group owing to factors such as age, situational constraints or occupational role. Billson adds that structural marginality results from the political, social and economic powerlessness of specific disadvantaged groups in societies.   
Male Identity Crisis
The Jamaican male for the most part sees his identity in his sexual prowess and his ability to father children. This skewed version of manhood and masculinity anchored in a state of phallocentrism and patriarchy is reinforced almost daily in the pop culture, especially dancehall music.
“I born as a bedroom bully
Bedroom bully fi di gyal pickiny
I born as a bedroom bully
Bedroom bully gal a wine up fi mi
Real top gyallis man a bedroom bully”
The above lyrics from dancehall artiste Busy Signal, clearly captures the sentiments of the construction of masculinity in the Jamaican context.  It is quite evident that the construction of Jamaican masculinity for the most part rests on the sexual objectification of women. Ironically, women are the main supporters of dancehall artistees whose music is steeped into this form of male identity and manhood. Interestingly, there are other forms of masculinities which have separated from this hegemonic form. However, males who subscribe to these marginal masculinities often run into problems and must endure the harassment in having their sexual orientation questioned. See below the lyrics of a popular dancehall song
Buddy Bruka-Aidonia
Nuh boring gyal
Boring gyal
No man nuh want no boring gyal
Cyah fu@k boring gal
You see my gyal?
She can skin out!
Gyal you ah buddy brucka.
As the debate rages regarding boys’ underachievement there are a number of schools of thought. Firstly, there are those who claim that boy’s underachievement is a direct result of the emphasis that has been placed on girls and women. These shifts of resources both material and human have contributed to a significant number of males falling through the cracks of an elist education system. The development of human resources requires a more gender-sensitive approach in order to maximize the best outcomes for both sexes. Secondly, there are those who locate the problem in relation to wider social changes and how this impacts males, particularly adolescent makes with regards to their view of masculinity and schooling. There needs to be a more concerted effort in making education more appealing to boys. Research has shown that boys learn differently from girls and are more interested in hands-on and interactive methods of instruction. Undoubtedly, male under-participation in the education system is linked to the gender socialization. Gender socialization traditionally affords more privilege to males and thus promotes male hegemony.  This gendered approach to socialization gives boys less exposure to those skills set which instill self-discipline, time management and promote an interest in academic attainment.
Towards A Gender Transformative Approach
Schools are the primary agents of socialization in many if not all societies.
It is debatable that the overreach of feminism in the education system is already having a negative impact on male students. It is not wise nor is it healthy to hide under the cloak of feminism to subdue the natural competitive tendencies of boys and turn them into “half men”. It is therefore critical to remind ourselves that outside of the need to empower our students in literacy and numeracy skills, our schools are responsible to reproduce the status quo of the society. The state of the construction of masculinity is at a crossroads, what is required is a healthy state of masculinity. It is imperative that our boys see positive role models in our male teachers in which to emulate.  Regrettably, the view regarding the construction of Jamaican and Caribbean masculinity is a negative one and by extension the society cannot afford to accommodate any further instances to add to the marginalization of male teachers within the education system. The issue of male underachievement in our educational institutions is cause for concern and must be deconstructed. There is much division among male educators and this invariably plays into the hands of female principalship aimed at the marginalization of the male educator. Additionally, our culture of homophobia and transphobia also contribute to the situation of division of male educators to work together to address concerns relating to them. As a male once you lose respect for and confidence in the leadership of your school it is clearly a sign, not necessarily from above to part ways. The way forward to create better working conditions in our schools for both sexes will require all stakeholders to voice their honest opinions at arriving at more gender neutral policies. The time has also come for male teachers to have their own association to advocate on issues which are of concern to them.  The days of “holding down” the male teacher has passed. We need to re-socialize the society, especially since the workplace is a shared space requiring of us to get along with each other, regardless of religion, sexual orientation, sex, political persuasion or social class. We must put aside our personality differences in order to adequately address the needs of our students.
In the powerful words of Hillary Clinton, let’s continue stand up for those who are vulnerable to being left out or marginalized.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.
#masculinity #marginalization #schooling #education #leadership #socialization #power #respect #trust #principalship #school #feminism #personality #gender

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Jamaica's Cultural and Creative Industries

Very often we tend to underestimate the impact of culture and creativity as agents of economic growth. According to the Cultural Times, the first global map of cultural and creative industry, revenues generated globally in 2013 from cultural and creative industries (CCI) totalled US$2,250 billion and employed over 29 million people. It is noteworthy that creative industries include, film and television, music, advertising, fashion, performing arts, and animation. The significance and impact of the contribution of cultural and creative industries to the Jamaican economy was highlighted and reinforced to delegates who attended the recent Jamaica 55 Diaspora 2017 Conference at the Jamaica Conference Center.  Minister in charge of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, Olivia Grange in a wide ranging speech entitled “Jamaica 55-Jamaica’s Creative Economy” used her presentation to underscore the impact of the CCI on the Jamaican economy. According to Minister Grange, creative industries contribute 5 % to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  She said the cultural and creative industries (CCI) were “untapped economic potential” and added that the CCI covers “urban and marginalized areas”. The Minister outlined plans regarding Jamaica 55 celebrations. One of the main pillars anchoring the 55th anniversary of Jamaica’s political independence is what the Minister referred to as Legacy Projects. The Jamaica 55 Secretariat has identified approximately, 22 projects under the Jamaica 55 Legacy Project. There are five core projects, Sports infrastructure, Entertainment and culture, National Monuments, Gender Infrastructure and Jamaica55 Publications. The Minister in her presentation mentioned three reasons for the legacy projects. These are; cultural retention, growth and development and transformation. In further explaining the legacy projects, the Minister’s presentation was met with a rousing applause from delegates as she sought to rationalize each. In response to Jamaica’s cultural retention, she pointed out the need to preserve the cultural and creative expression of Jamaica, secondly, it is critical to showcase the island’s rich cultural diversity and to transform Jamaica in the process.  According to Minister Grange, the Legacy Projects are slated to last between three to five years. In addition to providing employment and wealth, the Legacy Projects are intended to stimulate innovation as well as to become a pillar of Jamaica’s economic growth. The Minister added that the government will shortly create a Cultural and Creative Industry Council which will include participation from five other government ministries. In a presentation which clearly was meant to galvanize the Diaspora, Minister Grange told members of the Diaspora that the government was seeking partnership in working to accomplish the Legacy Projects. The Marcus Garvey Park and Museum in St. Ann is one such project. The redevelopment of the National Stadium which is slated to cost US$45 million is another Legacy Project. The redeveloped stadium will have a seating capacity of 45, 000. It was also announced that the government was seeking assistance in establishing a Creative Industry Satellite System to work towards capturing data and statistics on the cultural and creative industry (CCI), as a result the government has approached the government of Colombia in this regards. Minister Grange declared that the government has approach the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with regards making an inscription of Reggae. “It is important we safeguard and protect reggae music”. She added that the global value of the Creative Industries totals 7% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  
Financing of Cultural and Creative Industries
Subsequently, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in a recent policy move announced that it will be providing the initial capital for a multi-donor fund to improve the competitiveness of the cultural and creative industries sector in its borrowing member countries (BMC’s), including Jamaica. The Barbados based Caribbean Development Bank said it is making an initial contribution of US$2.6 million to the establishment of the Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF) as a pilot intervention, and it will also administer the fund. According to a release from the CDB, the CIIF will support the development of the creative industries sector, and encourage innovation, job creation and improved enterprise sustainability by providing grants and technical assistance to governments, business support organisations and academia that support the creative industries sector. It will also provide funding to creative and cultural entrepreneurs and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in CDB's BMCs.  Additionally, the CDB said the CIIF will primarily support projects identified in the priority sub-sectors: music, including production, distribution, sales and events; audio-visual, film, interactive media, animation and gaming/digital; fashion, and contemporary design; and festivals and carnivals. The fund is said to have three components focusing on: supporting the enabling environment; the development of sector data and market intelligence; and supporting MSMEs in the CIs sector to develop new products/services, implement new business models, improve employee and managerial capacity and access new markets.  This move will clearly be appreciated by those individuals who over the years have found it difficult to access funding for the cultural and creative industries and will undoubtedly spur economic growth.
In a response to a question regarding the limitation of cultural space, the culture Minister mentioned that the government was seeking to establish a State of the Art facility in Kingston to be used as a Concert Hall. Minister Grange said despite the limitations of resources, the government was looking how best to identify facilities outside Kingston to be upgraded and used such as school halls.  The minister implored artistes to ensure that they educate themselves regarding the business side of their craft and highlighted the Bob Marley Foundation as an example of how an estate can go about protecting their rights. In closing Minister Grange said that she was in favour of content quota regarding the playing of music. She gave Canada as an example of having such a policy in place in order to ensure that a percentage of local music is played. The Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference was held in Kingston, July 23-26, 2017 under the theme: Partnering for Growth.
In the powerful words of Marcus Garvey, “a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”. 
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.