Calling teachers Sir and Miss 'depressing and sexist'

 
children with their hands up in a classroom

Related Stories

Calling teachers "Sir" or "Miss" is depressing, sexist and gives women in schools a lower status than their male counterparts, an academic has said.

Prof Jennifer Coates told the Times Educational Supplement "Sir is a knight... but Miss is ridiculous - it doesn't match Sir at all".

She said she had been struck by the disparity while volunteering in a secondary school.

But one educationalist said being called "Miss" was a sign of respect.

Prof Coates, emeritus professor of English language and linguistics at the University of Roehampton, said she had been surprised by the different titles given to male and female teachers.

Start Quote

If I'm in a school where students don't know me and they call me Miss, I'm fine with that. They're showing respect by giving me a title”

End Quote Debbie Coslett Brook Learning Trust

"I didn't think there was this awful disparity between professorial status and these young teachers, but they're all Sir and I'm not.

"It's a depressing example of how women are given low status and men, no matter how young or new in the job they are, are given high status."

'Showing respect'

Professor Sara Mills of Sheffield Hallam University said UK schools were moving towards allowing pupils to address their teachers by their first name.

"Sometimes teachers find that they can control students more when they try to stress the similarities between them, rather than trying to keep as distant as possible," she told the TES.

But Debbie Coslett, chief executive of the Brook Learning Trust in south-east England, said there was not a disparity between "Sir" and "Miss".

"My response is always that my name isn't Miss; it's Mrs Coslett.

"But if I'm in a school where students don't know me and they call me Miss, I'm fine with that. They're showing respect by giving me a title."

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 397.

    Prof Jennifer Coates told the Times Educational Supplement "Sir is a knight... but Miss is ridiculous - it doesn't match Sir at all".

    So, on that basis it has been decided that male teachers should turn up to school clad in shining armour and mounted on a sturdy charger.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 396.

    381 Billy

    'Obviously only after I fail to attract her attention by banging my empty glass on the bar, snapping my fingers at her, and whistling:))'

    Sounds like my primary school teachers.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 395.

    Well, at least blokes are allowed a say on this, which is just as well, otherwise they'd just take it out on the missus.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 394.

    Classic HYS bait. Take a random academic you've never heard of before and never will again. Report their odd, left-field theory that falls into "battle of the sexes" territory. Doesn't matter if the theory isn't supported by others - just stick a paragraph at the end to address it, most HYS posters won't make it that far. Then sit back and watch the "PC gone mad" comments roll in. *le sigh*

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 393.

    Why is calling someone Sir or Miss sexist? It is a sign of respect and the relationship between student and pupil. This is political correctness gone mad. If an individual teacher wishes to be called something else other than Sir or Madam then let them direct the students accordingly. Simple and therefore no big issue.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 392.

    So...The British military is sexist, too?

    You HAVE to use Sir, or Ma'am.

  • rate this
    +100

    Comment number 391.

    There is no disparity between "Sir" and "Miss" in a child's mind. Unless, of course, we teach them that there is, which is what this so-called academic seems to want to do.

    I went to a secondary school where we called teachers by their first names. It did nothing to improve anything. The same school has now stopped the pointless and rather disrespectful practice.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 390.

    Prof Jennifer Coates "Sir is a knight... ".

    For someone who is a professor of language and linguistics she should be a bit more careful. By her analysis every officer in ever armed force has been knighted as well as every male older than me, or with whom I relate to that I don't know personally....and I'm an OAP. I give respect and expect it back...Ma'am.

    And she's a Professor? An Expert?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 389.

    No wonder this country is down the pan!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 388.

    Does ANYONE wonder why people consider our system of education and, in fact, every other institution this country used to be so proud of, to be a laughing stock ? What a pathetic waste of time...No Sir/Miss, no school uniforms, no respect, no discipline, social workers as teachers....DO YOUR JOB "academic" and teach something ....anything .

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 387.

    Prof Coates, emeritus professor of English language, linguistics and Beigeist political correctness, more like !

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 386.

    No it is not sexist - stupid report by an misguided person - Complete tosh.

    "Professor Sara Mills of Sheffield Hallam said UK schools were moving towards allowing pupils to address their teachers by their first name." Even worse tosh - complete breakdown of discipline in schools in pupils start calling you by first name.

    PS How come employment always "falls" before any election?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 385.

    I was happy to respond to "Miss" but more often was called by my name "Miss XX" even though I am married, I used my maiden name in teaching for admin. reasons (two of the same name). Students that came from various parts of of world called ma Ma'am, which I was also happy with. This is stuff and nonsense. I agree that these forms of address imbue respect. Academics leave it alone!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 384.

    184.
    Losing Touch
    1 Hour ago

    The fact that I've got the two lowest rated comments proves my point.

    You're a bunch of sexists, my fellow contributors.
    ---
    It does prove something, but alas not what you were expecting.

  • Comment number 383.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 382.

    I think this is what Gove is referring to when he refers to the blob. Our education system is packed full of left-wing 'educationalists' whose main agenda is championing equality instead of improving young peoples education.

    @363.It_s yerself

    No 'hissy fits' here, just pointing out the ridiculous. We leave the 'hissy fits' to you ladies 'LOL'

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 381.

    Off to pub now, where I will quite happily address the wench behind the bar as "Miss".
    Obviously only after I fail to attract her attention by banging my empty glass on the bar, snapping my fingers at her, and whistling:))

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 380.

    I just call everyone mate, men and woman. saves me having to remember names, and to be honest with the way some people dress nowadays your never quite sure.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 379.

    You are 'emeritus professor of English language and linguistics at the University of Roehampton' and you are surprised at the titles given to male and female teachers in schools?

    You have achieved your 2 minutes of fame, now jog on please!

  • rate this
    -31

    Comment number 378.

    For 27 years I taught in a school where the pupils used our first names. I encountered no disrespect or problems with that from either pupils or their parents. This went right from Kindergarten through to Form 13. I enjoyed seeing children I had taught in the Infant Section, go through the school and still say "Hi, Jenny!" when on their way to lessons in the Senior Section. I liked it!

 

Page 34 of 53

 

More Education & Family stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Martin Gardner as a young manThink hard

    Was this man the world's greatest puzzle master?


  • Carved pumpkinTrick or treat

    What did a riot at a pumpkin festival show about race in US?


  • A woman puts on a surgical mask during hospital Ebola training in Alabama.'Dark continent'

    Is prejudice fuelling Ebola outbreak hysteria in the US?


  • Oscar de la Renta and Oprah WinfreyIn pictures

    The life and work of Oscar de la Renta


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • FutureThe future is now

    Get the latest updates and biggest ideas from BBC Future’s World-Changing Ideas Summit

Programmes

  • Smart glassesClick Watch

    Smart spectacles go into battle – the prototypes looking to take on Google Glass

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.