Women shouldn’t fly planes. Women should be owned by men. Women must “take responsibility” when they are raped.
You might expect Andrew Tate’s violently misogynistic worldview to be limited to isolated comments on obscure websites, but Tate is a TikTok and YouTube phenomenon, a ubiquitous influencer with a reported net worth of £15m.
If you’re teaching children who are old enough to have their own phone, there’s a good chance many will be aware of your presence. And despite Tate’s recent arrest in connection with a human trafficking investigation, it may only be a matter of time before the children she teaches start displaying disturbing attitudes in her classroom. .
I recently asked professors on Twitter about their experiences dealing with male students who had fallen under Tate’s influence. The response was overwhelming. I was flooded with stories of teachers who were upset and deeply concerned.
For example, Joanne (not her real name), a teacher from a post-16 background, says she “had a really challenging lesson recently where two of the kids were openly discussing admiring Andrew Tate.”
Confronted with a celebration of such misogynistic attitudes, she describes feeling beside herself: “To tell you the truth, I didn’t really feel prepared to have such extreme views shared openly in my classroom and my emotional reaction left me a bit floored.” He says.
A Cornish teacher, Chloe, shares a similar story: “Recently, a Year 11 student told me out loud that he aligns with Tate’s beliefs. When I asked him what he meant by that, he said that Tate was right about ‘stuff’. Another (female) student asked if that meant she agreed with Tate’s views on rape and women as second-class citizens. In response, she said ‘yes’”.
In some cases, Tate’s brand of misogyny is encouraging some kids to try to bully the teachers. As Maxine, a Yorkshire teacher, puts it: “A 14-year-old student told another boy to ignore me and ‘put her in her place’”.
Even for highly experienced teachers, the impact of such an encounter can be profound, he notes.
“It left me feeling pretty bad, to be honest,” she says. “I am 50 years old and I have never had anything like this. This type of behavior has definitely increased recently.”
More teaching and learning:
meEven more worrisome for the teachers involved is when their efforts to address the problem are undermined by senior leadership.
For example, during a computer lesson, Siobhan, a high school geography teacher, found an 8th grade boy watching a video of Andrew Tate making scary comments about human trafficking. The student was removed from the lesson but, after a parental complaint, the behavior points were rescinded by a pastoral leader who Siobhan says was sympathetic to some of Tate’s views.
In fact, several teachers say they have been told by their male colleagues in leadership positions that they have read too much into children’s comments or downplayed incidents in other ways.
It is clear, then, that this problem has deep roots, and that to solve it, some staff members need to take a hard look at themselves.
B.But with scenes like these in classrooms across the country, what practical steps can schools take to change kids’ minds and stem the flow of Tate-inspired bias?
1. Avoid silencing guys
Emily Setty, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Surrey, conducts research with young people on sex and relationships. She argues that well-intentioned attempts by teachers to shut down misogynistic talk can often make things worse.
“Children are often told that a certain attitude is bad or inappropriate,” she says. “These well-intentioned efforts attempt to create a climate in which misogynistic views are not acceptable. I get it, but the problem is that kids feel unfairly attacked and that reinforces the idea that people like Tate are being silenced.
“Ultimately, it does nothing to address the underlying causes of the beliefs or the broader issues at play.”
So what is the alternative? Setty suggests that instead of immediately ending these awkward conversations, teachers should view them as “teachable moments.” In these cases, the communication style is just as important as the content of the discussion.
“It shouldn’t be done in the form of a lecture,” he says. “It should imply ‘call them’ instead of ‘call them’, which I’ve found rarely leads to anyone changing their point of view.”
In practice, this would mean providing a forum for children to share their views and listening carefully to them, no matter how unpleasant. Our instinct is to immediately tell children how unacceptable and wrong their opinions are. But giving them time to express these views in detail will increase the likelihood that they will listen to us when we begin to deconstruct their views.
2. Try to understand why children are susceptible to Tate’s message
As unpleasant as it may be, developing a greater understanding of Tate’s broader appeal is an important step in lessening its influence and helping create those teachable moments.
For all of Tate’s reprehensible comments on rape and domestic violence, his real appeal to teens is often more prosaic. Amid the barrage of misogyny, she also specializes in an unsubtle brand of self-help mumbo jumbo, which appeals to the alienated youth in a different way and is accompanied by images of Tate in his latest Lamborghini or Bugatti.
As Carol, a Bristol secondary teacher, explains, for boys who are struggling in school there is something seductive about Tate’s “glamorous” persona.
“Children are often blinded by their wealth, their lifestyle, their image, their emphasis on fitness,” she says. “But to address the problem, we need to look at the cold, hard facts of what it promotes, by looking at its quotes in isolation.”
Hopefully, once the kids realize that the luxury lifestyle has been funded by what Setty calls “incendiary content sharing,” they’ll gradually see that Tate isn’t as glamorous as it first seems.
3. Use assemblies to challenge assumptions
Many teachers fear that mentioning Tate could unknowingly promote his ideas to students who were previously unaware of him. However, saying nothing only allows her influence to grow unchecked.
English director Chris Curtis found that assemblies are a good way to get the message across. He uses misogynist phrases as a starting point for discussion about the broader dehumanization of women in society. He also uses relatable examples, like Kate Bush’s handwriting. song climbing that hillwho recently appeared on the Netflix show Strange things – Deconstruct Tate’s tactics.
And, like Setty, Curtis believes that education, rather than punishment, is the key.
“You have probably used these phrases and not realized that under the surface they reflect and symbolize hatred towards women,” she tells the students in the assembly. “The intention was not there, but the words were. Young people make mistakes. We all do. We are here to teach and we need to teach them this important lesson.”
It is particularly helpful for teachers to take on misogyny, as it challenges some kids’ assumptions that only female teachers find Andrew Tate hateful.
Four. Provide wide-ranging CPD for staff
These are challenging topics, and to tackle them with confidence, staff first need the right tools.
“It’s really important to equip teachers with factual knowledge on the subject, as a lot of my colleagues got stuck and couldn’t give answers to a high enough standard,” Chloe says. “This encouraged the children to think that they ‘won’ and the teachers ‘lost.’”
Therefore, school-wide CPD is an important part of the solution. This allows schools to establish ways to deal with misogynistic comments and helps create a consistent approach by teachers, pastoral staff, and senior leaders.
Increasingly, help is available to schools. Organizations like Schools Supported and Votes for Schools are putting together resources and webinars to help teachers deal with the protection implications of misogyny and incel culture.
However, to be effective, CPD will need to address the mindset of male teachers who are sympathetic to Tate’s worldview. In my experience, training on highly emotional topics is best done initially in smaller groups, facilitated by staff members who feel confident handling discussions of contentious and complex topics. Whether it is an external expert, PSHE leaders or SLT members, choosing the right facilitators, who can confidently challenge entrenched ideas about masculinity, is of crucial importance.
5. Don’t just focus on Andrew Tate
While Tate exemplifies misogyny online, it would be a mistake to think that if he were to disappear, attitudes towards women would automatically improve.
Putting Tate’s outpourings into broader perspective is vital, argues head of the year Sarah Ledger.
“My take on Andrew Tate is that he’s goofy, he’s a personality,” she says. “[But] Tate is the very visible tip of a huge iceberg. And really, he is what women have faced for decades, a charismatic man who displays toxic attitudes towards women and who proudly embodies toxic male entitlement.”
Perhaps, then, if we are really going to tackle misogyny in our schools, we will have to accept that Andrew Tate is just a high-profile symbol of deeply held societal beliefs. And while we take steps to address his rhetoric among the kids who repeat it, we must also take the time to look at the bigger picture, perhaps including our own attitudes.
Mark Roberts is an assistant director in the South West of England.