Call teachers 'by first names'

Braintree and Witham Times: Academics have suggested pupils refer to their teachers by their first names Academics have suggested pupils refer to their teachers by their first names

School pupils should refer to teaching staff by their first names rather than sexist titles such as "sir" and "miss", academics have said.

Senior education experts say the latter has connotations which make them appear less capable than their male counterparts.

In an interview with the Times Educational Supplement (TES), Jennifer Coates, emeritus professor of English language and linguistics at Roehampton University, said it was "depressing" that women teachers were given "low status" compared with men in the same roles.

She said: "'Sir' is a knight, but 'miss' is ridiculous, it doesn't match 'sir' at all."

Education historian Jacob Middleton told TES the different titles, widely used in schools as opposed to terms including "ma'am", embodied the "massive status disparity and sexism of former years".

Professor Sara Mills, a discourse researcher at Sheffield Hallam University, said pupils could instead refer to their teachers by their first names.

She said: "Sometimes teachers find that they try to stress the similarities between them, rather than trying to keep as distant as possible."

Comments (4)

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9:24am Wed 14 May 14

Mervyn James says...

More unadulterated tosh from the politically correct. Teachers have to command respect, and, to maintain distance. Familiarity breeds contempt, and lays them open to all sorts of legal kickbacks if some tearaway decides to exploit it. and a lot of these kids don't need to be more empowered in that area., more dis-empowered. If I called my teacher anything but sir, I wouldn't be able to sit down for a month. What next ? total freedom to sit at a desk updating your social media as a right too ? (Or do they already do that !). Would you call your Dad or Mum by their first names, I think not.
More unadulterated tosh from the politically correct. Teachers have to command respect, and, to maintain distance. Familiarity breeds contempt, and lays them open to all sorts of legal kickbacks if some tearaway decides to exploit it. and a lot of these kids don't need to be more empowered in that area., more dis-empowered. If I called my teacher anything but sir, I wouldn't be able to sit down for a month. What next ? total freedom to sit at a desk updating your social media as a right too ? (Or do they already do that !). Would you call your Dad or Mum by their first names, I think not. Mervyn James
  • Score: 12

10:13am Wed 14 May 14

ThinkBrighton says...

Addressing a Teacher by the title Miss, Mr or Mrs is not a matter of sexism it's all to do with respect' which in most schools is very thin.
Addressing a Teacher by the title Miss, Mr or Mrs is not a matter of sexism it's all to do with respect' which in most schools is very thin. ThinkBrighton
  • Score: 7

10:17am Wed 14 May 14

Crossbenchtory says...

When I was at school, during the 1970's and early 1980's, not only did we address School Staff, academic, administrative and support (such as the groundsmen and the kitchen & dinning hall staff) as "Sir", "Miss" or Ma'am", every boy stood when a member of staff entered the room. The only exceptions to this were the House Matrons who were addressed as "Matron".

Further to this we had a Prefect system made up of senior boys, whose role it was to see to the welfare of younger boys in the school where said younger boy was unwilling to bring an issue to the attention of a Master, and these Prefects were always addressed as "Mr (so and so)".

This system worked as it instilled a sense of hierarchy and order as well as teaching young boys to respect their elders and betters. It also worked because it taught the Prefects that where one has authority one also has responsibility and a duty to those whom one has authority over.

It is no accident that, historically, schools which implemented such systems have produced a disproportionate number of our country's great Military, Political and Busniness leaders.
I would suggest that the decline, certainly in the calibre of our Political leaders, over recent decades is directly linked to the demise of these standards in our schools, both Public and State run.
When I was at school, during the 1970's and early 1980's, not only did we address School Staff, academic, administrative and support (such as the groundsmen and the kitchen & dinning hall staff) as "Sir", "Miss" or Ma'am", every boy stood when a member of staff entered the room. The only exceptions to this were the House Matrons who were addressed as "Matron". Further to this we had a Prefect system made up of senior boys, whose role it was to see to the welfare of younger boys in the school where said younger boy was unwilling to bring an issue to the attention of a Master, and these Prefects were always addressed as "Mr (so and so)". This system worked as it instilled a sense of hierarchy and order as well as teaching young boys to respect their elders and betters. It also worked because it taught the Prefects that where one has authority one also has responsibility and a duty to those whom one has authority over. It is no accident that, historically, schools which implemented such systems have produced a disproportionate number of our country's great Military, Political and Busniness leaders. I would suggest that the decline, certainly in the calibre of our Political leaders, over recent decades is directly linked to the demise of these standards in our schools, both Public and State run. Crossbenchtory
  • Score: 8

10:29am Wed 14 May 14

welshmen says...

Get rid of these Liberal Elite mind benders, this is so stupid, what kind of people want to alter something that is not broken, Sir, Miss, Mr,, Mrs Ma,am, it's called respect, nothing wrong with that, more important bring back corporal punishment, the undisciplined class disturbers will by punished, the rest of the class can get on with what they are there for, to get an Education for their future and our Countries future....
Get rid of these Liberal Elite mind benders, this is so stupid, what kind of people want to alter something that is not broken, Sir, Miss, Mr,, Mrs Ma,am, it's called respect, nothing wrong with that, more important bring back corporal punishment, the undisciplined class disturbers will by punished, the rest of the class can get on with what they are there for, to get an Education for their future and our Countries future.... welshmen
  • Score: 4
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