Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Breath of Fresh Air

We are all for more voices advocating for men working with young children. It is better when those new voices are students who already realise that more needs to be done to increase the presence of males in the Early Childhood Education sector. What is perhaps the best news is that these new student advocates for males are female.

They are Males in Early Childhood Education and are from Humber College in Toronto, Ontario.

Although just starting out, I think it's important we give these wonderful young professionals the support they deserve. So pay them a visit and say hi or offer you own insight into your experiences.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same (It Would Seem)

You don't have to go far to realise that the Early Childhood profession and society in general are becoming far more accepting and supportive of men working with young children. Personally I get countless comments from parents and colleagues on a daily basis about how wonderful it is to see a man with the children. How 'good' it is for the children (their words, not mine). What a breath of fresh air it is. How much the children (often boys) love having me or some other guy around.

Just last week a neighbouring centre's preschool room visited us for a picnic lunch and a male casual was with them. Now I was not present on the day (most unfortunate for me), but I heard several account on how marvellous he was with the children. He had them engaged with an impromptu group experience where he took a number of various types of gloves, gave them a personality according to their appearance and 'spoke' to the children and the other gloves through them. He also fully engaged with them during their play and exploration of the playground. I have been told that his interactions are to be held up as examples of how to engage with children authentically.

Now that is a wonderfully positive story and it is not a lone account. However, thee are still worrying incidents occurring out there that I have seen or heard first hand, or have been told about.

Things such as female colleagues telling male counterparts outright that they don't belong because of their gender. Instructors at training/educational institutions showing a bias against the males studying. Parents requesting that the man not be in their child's room or be present during toileting/nappy changing. Only employing men to work with older age groups. Men from outside the field viewing those who work with young children with suspicion, disdain and often hatred.

All these instances are regretful in the least and completely unforgivable to many. In the present day, how can a so-called professionals, and even academics, have such outmoded views? How can a women, for example, think and express a feeling that men are not capable of being in the Early Years field when they would scream blue murder if the same stance was taken against a woman wanting to enter a male-dominated workforce?

There are so many other questions that need to be asked, but I would need to write a mid-sized book to cover all areas comprehensively. My main question is this. How can such views and attitudes be allowed to exist, and even prosper in today's society? Have we really not progressed that far?

I would like to think that I have access to a skewed example of what is really representative of the Early Childhood Education and Care world.