Hetero overexposure

October 20, 2000

So staggered was I by the total lack of critical comment in Raj Persaud's article, "The reason why Sir goes extracurricula?" (Research, THES October 6) that I decided to use it in my weekly session on "critical thinking" with students following a continuous professional development BA in post-compulsory education and training.

Despite being in only week four of the course, when asked to identify any implicit assumptions underpinning the text and to offer alternative conclusions, our collective responses included: 

  • That men's behaviour is genetically programmed but women's behaviour is not
  • It is not a fact that men are innately predisposed to prefer young women as mates
  • That men inevitably unfavourably compare younger women to women of their own age
  • The heterosexist nature of the assumptions
  • That one can develop satisfactory monocausal explanations of complex social phenomena
  • That social research can be seen to be valid by drawing on laboratory experiments and "data-sets" alone.

Alternative conclusions: 

  • Male teachers may have a higher divorce rate but the cause is not necessarily anything to do with the nature of their work (specifically - it may have nothing to do with whom they teach)
  • Comparing the marital status of secondary-school teachers with their primary colleagues is not meaningful if other attributes are ignored, age, for example
  • If there is an innate tendency of men to prefer younger women, why is this not the case for all groups of men in the study?

Please convey my thanks to Persaud for the perfect stimulus material needed.

Ann Lahiff and BA students

School of Post-Compulsory Education and Training

University of Greenwich

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