We'll find our own role models

Brian Monteith

My name's Brian and I've always fancied women. There, I've said it and I'm not ashamed. I think I've been that way all my life. When I was an infant at nursery school, I remember holding lassies' hands. I wasn't one of those shy types who thought girls were yeughy. At primary school, I mucked about with the boys but blethered with the girls. I remember being betrothed to Jennifer Gordon at the age of six, or maybe seven. Like so many of my later loves, she dumped me, but it just made me try harder.

In my adolescence at secondary school, I no longer tried to conform to the Ladybird book idyll of the platonic-looking nuclear family but joined the race to become a man. Like most dudes of my age, it was to be a marathon rather than a sprint - unlike my pals Gordon and Robbo who, being S-form footballers, had girls swooning all over them.

I reveal my affection for the gentler gender because it is being said that boys lack positive male role models in school, especially primary school. Really? Well, I never ever was taught by a male primary teacher, not even for one single supply day.

Parsons Green Primary in Edinburgh had Mr Reid as headmaster and, after him, Mr Lindores. For the rest of my time there, it was Mrs Redding, Miss Scott, Miss Veitch and Mrs Park. I loved them all, and certainly fancied the two misses.

Did this lack of maledom ruin me for life? I don't think so, but no one will ever be sure, for it depends what the social engineers would like to have turned out. A sport-loving, rough-and-tumble boy who would climb up the park and slide down the dry hills in cardboard boxes - or a softy sitting at home knitting and dressing dolls?

I didn't need a male teacher to tell me what men should be like; being literate, I could always read about Alf Tupper in my Victor comic. Actually, there was once a crochet craze that swept Scotland for all of a few weeks as pop art met woollen fashions, and I learned how to purl or whatever. It didn't last. And I did dress dolls, but mine was called Action Man and my best pal Gillie had the armoured car and more guns and outfits than John Wayne.

Yeah, John Wayne. Now he was a role model. As were Denis Law, Colin Stein and Yuri Gagarin - and my dad, grandad and uncles Doug, Rab and George. Primary teachers? We had more contact with the school jannie and the gardener: it never occurred to us that we needed men in class.

Of course, those were different days. We were allowed to play team games in the playground, running around being cowboys and Indians with our ties around our heads (possessing the British love of the underdog, we all wanted to be Indians). And there was British bulldog or dodge ball, of course, when no prisoners were taken.

So do we need a government campaign to provide today's children with positive role models? Is this not more social engineering trying to make up for the breakdown of that Ladybird nuclear family?

I think boys find their own role models and, despite what some psychoanalysts may allege, having lots of girls and women around us does not turn us into jessies.

So I'm not convinced that the latest government campaign to encourage more men into teaching, which The TESS reported on November 28, is a great use of taxpayers' money. Indeed, who's to say that more qualified male teachers will end up getting those scarce jobs? Will it require positive discrimination when recruiting? Now that I would really object to. So would Alf Tupper.

Brian Monteith believes there is nothing wrong with mixed education, especially when he was the only boy in the class.

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Brian Monteith

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