Thursday, April 19, 2012

For the Boys

Often we in the early childhood profession are faced with challenges of one sort or another. One of the those that seems to keep resurfacing is meeting the unique challenges and needs of boys. This article from early Childhood News titled, "The Challenge of Boys in Our Early Childhood Programs" looks at ways in which we can all address these issues. One of the reasons it identifies for the struggle boy have  is the feminine dominant culture of the workforce. It also suggests getting more men into the profession and engaging more fathers as ways to help boys.

Whether we be male or female, we all need to meet the unique needs of all children in our care, regardless of their gender. However, he fact that there needs to be workshops on how to engage boys or better understand how they learn speaks volumes. Regardless of who we are, we have to fight for the right of all children. If  that means getting dirty, on our knees, dressing up in all sorts of costumes, sharing their adventures, victories and defeats, or simply listening to them then that's what we must do.

Yes, men are a key component to addressing the issues in young boys' education. But we are not meant to shoulder all the responsibility. Men are more likely to engage in the types of play boys prefer, but seeing as women dominate the workforce, it is up to them as well to ensure they are doing all they can for the boys.

We should be united in this people. All children are relying on us, particularly the boys. In the spirit of the fire brigade, Get Down Low and Go, Go, Go! They'll love you for it.


  1. Good post Greg. Yes I agree that while men are vital - it's not just up to men as both men and women can and do enact both feminine and masculine 'traits'. I think that talking about gender from a purely biological view just blurs and confuses our roles and the potential for exploring the multitude of messages kids get about gender.

    I think we men need to stop fretting about gender responsibility (saving the boys) so much - its a shared job as you say. In researching this topic I found that the science behind the idea of 'role models' remains unsure about how we adopt gender identities. It's very complex and just too simplistic to say 'we need more males to role model for the boys'.

    Another point: Arguments about a feminised workforce creating boy victims don't really wash with me. They are too often the attacking point of the conservative 'men's rights' movement. When I look at the masculine traits they hark for - old-fashioned conservative values with male dominance at the core - I'm left think: do we really want more of this bullshit? Are we not agents of change? Are we not challenging the status quo? Are we working for equality or equity? We are raising our girls to be more like boys, but do we have the courage to raise boys to be more like girls?

    Great to open this Pandora's box Greg :) I've blogged about this recently so come have a read.


    1. I will @ko. What I take from the feminised workforce argument is that research has shown women generally engage with children in different ways to men. While women in general prefer arts and crafts and other quieter, more 'intelletual' experiences, men lean toward more hands on and active play, expecially if it is outdoors.

      Norway have been quite successful in recruiting more men in their outdoor preschools then traditional ones. It seems men just want to be outside.

    2. Yep I'd agree. But I really hate research generalisations! I mean, I really dislike sport like rugby which is all the boys want to play here - and I love art. It's this kind of blurring of 'typical behaviour' that throws the whole argument up into the air :)

      how do we get boys inside and girls out? Or is it more that we need to get what attracts boys and girls into different locations?

      Interesting about Norway. I'm just reading Louv's 'Last Child in the Woods' and how we find solace in nature. I know I find indoors too noisy and a little overwhelming of the senses... give me the garden any day - even a rainy one!


    3. If you read my post on breaking gender stereotypes you see some of my approaches to encouraging all children to engage in all experiences.