Towards In-Service Training for Male Teachers: Muhammad Ali and Teacher Masculinity
Jannie Pieter Pretorius
University of the Free State
Msebenzi Rabaza
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Male teachers
teacher masculinity
Muhammad Ali
themes for professional development

How to Cite

Pretorius, J., & Rabaza, M. (2023). Towards In-Service Training for Male Teachers: Muhammad Ali and Teacher Masculinity. Journal of Culture and Values in Education, 6(3), 97-114.


Male teachers often experience contradictions in their role and their identity. Teaching is sometimes not regarded as a masculine occupation, as it is associated with caring for children and associated with the home, where love and obligation drive production rather than pay. There is a contradiction in the viewpoints that men engaged in caring professions are both seen to be feminized but, at the same time, to be sexualized and hypermasculine. As such, the male teacher is positioned within a discourse of suspicion: they are suspected to be potential child molesters. At the same time, male elementary teachers are wanted in schools expressly as disciplinarians, and these teachers can be exploited when their female counterparts do not share the role of disciplinarian. Despite noting that many males leave teacher training because of these challenges, researchers have spent much less time investigating strategies to assist men in coping with them and persist in the profession. Considering this, an effort was made to develop an in-service workshop for male teachers by appreciating the life and career of Muhammad Ali, arguably the greatest boxer of all time. This was qualitative research which made use of primary materials, collected from discussion using Appreciative Inquiry methodology and principles, and secondary materials, such as a documentary and videos, and in the following manner: after watching videos of some of Ali’s best knockouts, and watching a documentary of his life, 19 volunteer male teachers conducted interviews in pairs and, following feedback and discussions, five themes from Ali’s life and career were qualitatively identified: the thief who stole Ali’s bicycle; success is 10% talent and 90% hard work; proper preparation and having confidence about one’s work; male teachers mold our learners’ diversity; and confidence before and during his fights. These themes were suitable for application in the male teachers’ careers and could serve as a curricular framework for professional development.

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