Saturday, July 16, 2011

Another More Men Debate

Teacher Tom has ignited some passion regarding males in early childhood education.
And to think it all stemmed from a recollection about blowing the wrapping off straws when he was a boy.

Here is my responding comment to his post:
(I suggest you read his post before reading this)

According to research in this area you are right Tom that the two main reasons men give for not entering the early childhood profession or leave it is because of the low pay & the suspiciousness surrounding them.

There are other reasons too. Such as the low status of the profession, which in itself is a reason for the low pay. Some male egos just can't bare being outshone by their peers career wise. There's also the view that caring for children is women's work, although I believe this to an outdated concern as society is quickly changing in this respect. Finally some men feel as if they'll be an island in a sea of women with little masculinity to feed off or into.

I personally believe that there are numerous positives about increasing the number of men working with young children. However, my main point is that the sector cannot reflect society or connect with communities if its workforce doesn't more closely reflect gender representation in those communities. So many families encounter female only environments within early childhood services that their children have little or no opportunities to develop a notion of men, whether positive or negative. Most, if not all significant adults in their lives could well be female.

For much of my teaching career I was the sole income & although my wife now works casually I am still the main income earner.


  1. I feel fortunate to work in a cooperative preschool in which the parents work in the classroom with me as parent-teachers. On any given day there will be at least one, if not more, dads in the classroom with me. I especially love singing with all those low-pitched male voices. There was a day last year when our 2-year-old class was in session, but many of the fathers were off work, so there were probably 7-8 of us there for circle time. We have a "sailor song" with lots of "Hey Hos" in it. Oh man, you should have seen those little boys perk up when we boomed that one out -- the girls too, of course -- but you could almost tell the boys were thinking, "This is our song!"

  2. That would be a wonderful thing to be part of - your own tenor choir! It's funny, but when I sing with the children they often try to emulate me by making deeper sounds than usual. I bet all the kids, not just the boys, love having all those dads around too.

  3. The BIG question is boys ... How do we fix this?
    Donna :) :)

  4. I don't think boys need 'fixing' Donna & I know that's not what you meant. I believe both men & women can contribute to helping some boys. It's more about changing our approach when working with them rather than treating all children the same. Many people talk about equality, but aas children (& adults) are individuals we can't possibly treat all of them the same & expect the same results. However, through equity we can achieve so much more. Understanding & respecting that boys & girls generally learn & develop differently, & guiding our practices towards ways that embrace that difference rther than seeing it as problematic is a good place to start.

    Personally, I have no qualms dressing up, playing with dolls or having tea parties. I would also hope that my female colleagues would be just as willing to engage in rough & tumble play, be a superhero or push the trucks & cars around. We all have the capacity to make a diference. Yes, men are great at such play & more males would be a wonderful thing for all childern, not just the boys. However, we're not talking about a clogged pipe that need a plumber called in. We all hopefully have trhe desire & skills to assist those who might be struggling, whether they be boys or girls.

    A great starting point is to ASK THEM what they want to do, then DO IT WITH THEM. I'm sure many of them would love more time outside. We live in a climate that invites us to be outsite, yet we spend more time inside then out. Feed their desire to be a hero (super, action or whatever kind). The world will always need heroes & you may have one or more in the making. Enable them to LEAD. Leadership is a skill that many of us are never allowed to develop until much later in life.

    Finally, why are you asking me? You are so much smarter, more experienced & better than I am. Do what you do best & I'm positive the boys will prosper.