Somebody pointed out this photograph to me with the comment that somebody had kicked off a row over the university offering a qualification in Mansplaining.
I just shrugged. I mean if they want to get upset about something to do with universities, perhaps they’d get upset about the fact that working class white males are such a rare beast in universities. Apparently young women who were on free school meals are 51% more likely to go into higher education than comparable young men.
Another mate looked at the photograph and commented that he assumed it was the common room in his daughter’s primary school on ‘dress down Friday.’ The man is the janitor. (26% of teachers in England are men – accounting for 38% of secondary and 15% of primary school teachers.)
Also next time they give out the A level or GCSE results, just check the photos in the local paper. After looking at the photos of successful candidates in our local paper I was left to conclude that boys no longer did A levels. Certainly they rarely seemed to get their photos in the paper over it.
But never mind. Perhaps I should point out there are times when the State decides that there aren’t enough men entering a certain occupation. If the State decides it’s important enough, it just conscripts them, hands them a rifle and a uniform and leaves them to get on with it. Perhaps in the interests of fairness we ought to merely conscript into some trades and professions to get the gender balance correct. At the age of 16 you’d get assigned, based on a quick physical examination, to the trade and profession the computer has assigned you, taking no account whatsoever of anything so gender based as your interests or aptitude.
Do you get the impression I’m not taking this whole debate entirely seriously?
But anyway the Southern Universities Network did a survey of what we might call young working class males and asked them why they didn’t go to university. Some of the things they discovered were ;-
- Males from low HE (Higher Education) participation areas appear less motivated by financial rewards than their peers from areas with higher HE progression rates, and more motivated by finding a career that suits their interests and skills.
- Males from low HE participation areas were less convinced in terms of their interest in HE at the pre -16 stage of education.
- They were also less likely to say that they would enjoy being a university student and that university is necessary for the career they have in mind. They were much less likely to view HE as affordable and post -16 learners were concerned about their ability to get in and fit in. Overall, HE is perceived as a risky strategy.
- Alternatives to HE, including progression to apprenticeships, were frequently viewed as a ‘better’ option by vocational learners, although this may well reflect the increased understanding they had about this route compared to HE.
And the Southern Universities Network response, to find ways to encourage more of them to go to university. After all that was the whole purpose of the exercise. If people stop going to university some of the people working in Universities might have to get a job.
Actually it strikes me that these lads had their heads well screwed on. I know too many people with degrees who are asking the age old question. “Do you want fries with that?”
But then I’m wary of being accused of mansplaining if I go on for too long.
But anyway, if you think somebody is mansplaining to you, then you can get upset about it and make a fuss.
Or you could do what men have been doing for millennia in similar circumstances when a lady is talking to them. Just get on with thinking about whatever it was you were thinking about, and say ‘yes dear’ at appropriate intervals.
(In reality the ladies I know have long ago mastered their coping strategies for both ‘mansplaining’ and inattentive husbands. I shall say no more more.)
There again, if you want things explained properly, ask the dog
As a reviewer commented, “This is the third collection of farmer Jim Webster’s anecdotes about his sheep, cattle and dogs. This one had added information on the Lake District’s World Heritage status. This largely depends upon the work of around 200 small family farms. Small may not always be beautiful but it can be jolly important. If you want to know the different skills needed by a sheep dog and a cow dog, or to hear tales of some of the old time travelling sales persons – read on! This is real life, Jim, but not as I know it.”