Monday, December 04, 2006

Inviting Women into "The Men’s Room”

by Jerry Speraw, Men in Child Care Committee Chair
[email protected]

In support of women writers, Virginia Woolf suggested in her 1929 book that, like men, in order to write fiction one of the essentials that a woman needs is “A Room of One’s Own.” With sincere respect, but also with a bit of playfulness, some men in child care have suggested that one of the essentials that a man needs in the child care field is a metaphorical “Men’s Room” (my thanks to Greg Uba for the inspiring thought, and we’ll save the discussion of an actual men’s room for another time).

This column and its title, an admittedly provocative attention-getting device (insert smiling emoticon here), are an effort toward realizing that idea.

Please note that this proposes neither the creation of an exclusively male discussion room nor a locker room mentality, the latter of which has decidedly unpleasant connotations. Instead, the idea promotes the creation of a welcoming place for all CAEYC members in which to introduce and discuss topics that deserve/require attention relating to men in the child care field, so that those who enter, through reading this, may contribute to and benefit from an open exchange of information and perspectives.

That being said, it has been my responsibility for the past year, as Chair of the CAEYC Men in Child Care (MiCC) Committee, to organize members and develop a program to examine and address issues and concerns affecting men in early childhood education.

My initial objectives have been the following:

1. To identify, contact, and recruit CAEYC members who are, have been, or might be interested in MiCC topics, issues, and committee work;

2. To create and provide an authoritative voice to CAEYC members interested in the promotion and dissemination of MiCC information;

3. To promote and foster thoughtful discussion of issues and concerns involving, affecting, and confronting men in early childhood education;

4. To increase and improve the visibility and recognition of men and the important role that they play in the development of healthy children and the support structure of families;

5. To actively respond to opportunities in support of MiCC interests and objectives;

6. To develop, establish, and maintain a strong presence in formulating and supporting CAEYC policies, programs, and activities which both reflect and affect MiCC interests; and,

7. To encourage individual CAEYC member reflection on both institutional and personal bias, prejudice, and discrimination in regard to male involvement in all levels of early childhood education.

In support of the first three of these objectives, I have constructed the website at CAEYC Men, designed to be a virtual meeting place for the convenient exchange of information and ideas by CAEYC members who have allied themselves with MiCC interests.

While men have initially been recruited as more likely to participate and have interest in the committee’s work and in setting its agenda, women have also provided significant support and participation, reflecting thoughtfulness about the presence and influence of men in the lives of children in our collective care. This was publicly evidenced in the committee’s meeting at the CAEYC conference last April, and has continued in responsiveness to website email queries.
While the current committee membership of 39 includes 5 women (12%), our email subscriber list of 24 includes an additional 9 women, demonstrating an involvement or interest by women amounting to 22% of the 63 CAEYC participating members. Considering the limited outreach efforts that have been completed so far, this is both significant and encouraging, and serves to demonstrate the appeal of this topic to CAEYC members.

Consequently, I am hoping that this column will encourage you to visit the Men in Child Care website listed above and consider becoming part of this expanding and dynamic group of people interested in progressive action in support of men in our field and the talents, skills, nurturing, and dedication that they bring in their work on behalf of children.

Lastly, I want to thank Eve-Marie Arce for her confidence in offering me the opportunity last year to chair the Men in Child Care Committee. Her recognition and support of the need to address issues in this area is encouraging for all in the field who have an interest in developing a more representative gender workforce and the talents, perspectives, and influences that already enriches the lives of many children, parents, and early childhood education professionals.

Monday, November 06, 2006

New Zealand has less than 1% men teaching in early education

We are employed in early childhood teacher education programmes in New Zealand and have read with interest your article on men in early childhood education (Young Children, September 2006) We have also looked at your website which is a very valuable resource.

In your article you suggest that New Zealand and Australia provide financial incentives to encourage men into early childhood careers. We are not clear on the situation in Australia but need to point out that no special financial incentives are available to encourage men in early childhood in NZ.

Indeed the situation in NZ would seem much worse than in the US. Your article notes that men make up 5.2% of childcare workers, and 2.3% of preschool and kindergarten teachers in the US. In New Zealand, men make up less than 1% of childcare and kindergarten teachers. See the following web link for more information:

Child Forum website

We note that your website contains a link to a NZ television item that also discusses the challenges for men in early childhood in New Zealand.

All the best for your continued work in this area.

Kind regards

Ken Blaiklock and Alex Williams

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Meet M.E.N. For Lunch in Hawai'i

On October 7, 2006, the HAEYC Men in Education Network (M.E.N.) Interest Forum sponsored a "Meet M.E.N. for Lunch" networking event at the 2006 Hawaii Early Childhood Conference. E-mails went out and signs went up to encourage "guys and their allies" - that is men and women - to either drop by for a short time to show their support, or feel welcome to stay for the food and conversation.

Each fall, the Hawaii Association for the Education of Young Children (HAEYC) coordinates the Hawaii Early Childhood Conference, our State's largest single gathering of early childhood professionals. The Waikiki Convention Center serves the conference lunches "bento" or box-lunch style as a convenient way for attendees to travel with their food. People are encouraged to appropriate unused spaces to eat and network with those who share similar interests in early childhood education (ECE).

The HAEYC M.E.N. fittingly commandeered the "Waikiki Room" to hold our gathering. Smaller groups secured other portions of the room, alongside the twelve or so people who turned up specifically to discuss the many roles of men who work with young children. Participants were general and special educators, preschool directors, State workers, college professors and students. This delightful group was composed of equal numbers of male and female early childhood professionals. Ours was a small but energetic gathering, especially once the discussion started.

Interestingly, as our HAEYC M.E.N. Interest Forum attendees began to exchange ideas, the other fifteen or so people scattered about the room stopped talking and began listening in on what we had to say. Our dialog even caught the attention of a young woman passing outside the door, who appreciated what she was hearing and came in to join us. We discussed the many benefits and barriers to having men in ECE; what it meant to be the "only guy" in early childhood coursework, programs, and professional gatherings; what an absence of men in the lives of our nation's male and female children means, and other related topics.

There is a certain magic to Men in ECE events. Gatherings expressly to discuss the subject of men in ECE are comparatively rare, so perhaps those who attend devote themselves just a little more intently to getting as much out of them as possible. Whatever the reasons for the vitality, the HAEYC M.E.N. "Meet M.E.N. for Lunch" networking event validated the principle that planning Men in ECE events consistently earns back the energy invested in kind.

Don Piburn

Monday, October 16, 2006

New Zealand Men Interviewed on National Television

Here's the link to the online video about men in child care in New Zealand.

See the article and video.

From the site:

The Early Childhood Council says the paedophile hysteria of the 1990s has caused a dramatic decline in the number of men opting to work in childcare centres.

New Zealand's largest representative body of licensed early childhood centres has called for a partnership between Government and childcare organisations to encourage more men into childcare.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Australia: Males in Early Childhood Summit 2006

A photograph of male teachersREPORT from 8th and 9th July 2006
The Summit idea grew from a group of men in early childhood who have been meeting informally every six weeks for almost four years. It was billed as an opportunity to be a part of something extraordinary – a national gathering of men who are working and studying in early childhood. The Summit was a first for the field in Australia.

Twenty five men gathered at the Summit to meet others, to contribute their stories and to bring back to their services new ideas. The most important thing for many was the feeling that they weren’t alone now. The men represented all service types and all levels of training and experience – with the commonality that they were all called to do this work.

The dinner on the Saturday night allowed us to relax and get to know each other. It was amazing to see all these guys in a club, watching the rugby test match, having one or two beers and a laugh, but also talking about their experiences working with young children. It set the scene for the next day – allowing conversations to flow and understanding to develop.

The ‘work’ involved discussing what we have learnt about establishing and maintaining our local network group. We held a panel of four diverse men to open up about their experiences – it was powerful stuff. The discussion flowed. A highlight was the debate around setting up an all male staffed early childhood service. What would that look like? Would parents enroll their child in that service? Would it be accepted?
With hungry bellies we had a massive BBQ lunch and tons of time for talk and laughter.

We then presented Child Protection for men and looked at successful overseas models of involvement. We have a long way to go but the spirit is there.

At the end we gathered as a full group to develop our position statement:

What do we want to see happening for men in early childhood in Australia? This session united our voices and galvanized our resolve to continue – inspiration was the common feeling.

I felt privileged to have spent time with this exceptional group of men.

Craig d'Arcy

Australian website

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Presentations In Chicago, Illinois, USA

Editors Note: Kevin gave a presentation in Chicago, Illinois, USA recently and we asked him how it went and what did you do]

The presentation went really well. I love to do presentations. I do many of them and this one seemed to be one of the better ones. It went the way I had planned and I feel like we male early childhood educators took a step forward on getting the message out there that men can be nurturing and that children need men..

My outline consisted of:

1) Fears in our lives

2) Differences and similarities in men and women

3) Advantages of having men in the lives of children

4) Barriers that keep men away from the field of early childhood,

5) Ways of recruiting men, and

6) Ways of retaining men.

Wow! my friend, we had such great discussion.

I would love to get together and meet other men in our field, that would be awesome.

Well I better close for now, have a great night and always remember, "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."

Sincerely ,


Friday, September 29, 2006

Men At Work In New Zealand

There have been lots of good work in New Zealand trying to recruit men teachers.

Sarah Farquhar has been a long time champion of challenging the sexism against men working with young children.

You can see her website and her many publications at Child Forum.

And several men have been getting media attention for their work. Here is the link to the policy paper Men At Work: Sexism In Early Childhood Education that talks about their work.

Lance Cablk, Adam Buckingham, David Butler and Russell Ballantyne share their views about men teaching.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The 2006 HAEYC Men in Education Network (M.E.N.) Retreat

Male Teachers sitting in a circleIt had only been a day since our 2006 Hawaii Association for the Education of Young Children (HAEYC) Men in Education Network (M.E.N.) retreat in collaboration with, when I realized my memory was failing. Not for what I could not recall, but for the remarkable wealth of images, feelings, stories, and ideas coursing through my mind. Clearly, sorting through my retreat experiences was going to take some time.

Our first HAEYC M.E.N. Retreat in 2004 [Read it here] was held in a rather luxurious retreat facility, and though attendees appreciated the nice accommodations, several remarked that they were afraid to move around much for fear of breaking something valuable. In contrast, this year’s retreat took place in a preschool.

Punanaleo o Waianae is a Hawaiian “language nest” preschool located along the west coast of the island of Oahu. Children in Punanaleo early childhood programs are immersed in the Hawaiian language and culture, and for much of the day so were we. We were also immersed in food. For starters, the Punanaleo o Waianae parents put out a phenomenal continental breakfast and refreshments spread. Several of our retreat planning committee members, for example Ata Edralin, donated or secured donations of pastries, drinks or snacks for the day. Our ono (very delicious) Hawaiian cuisine lunch included kalua pig and cabbage, lomi-lomi salmon, lau-lau, and rice.

Male teachers having discussionsKumu (teacher) Iokepa Badis shared how he and fellow Punanaleo o Waianae kumu, staff, families, and the preschool “ohana” (Hawaiian for family and inclusive of the entire community that raises the children) work to connect the language-rich curriculum, culturally appropriate materials, and Hawaiian values in support of the clear and focused vision: E Ola Ka ‘Ōlelo Hawaii. "The Hawaiian language shall live." Master Kumu Nailima Gaison, who joined us from the Island of Hawaii, instructed us in culturally appropriate protocol and shared how the Hawaiian language nest programs assist native Hawaiians and other indigenous people world wide who share their quest to maintain and develop traditional languages and cultures for life today.

There were presentations, panel discussions, games, and plenty “talk stories” on a whole range of topics. Malcolm Hee shared the findings of his Doctoral research study on the benefits, barriers, and support needs of male teachers in early childhood education (ECE). Roberto Reggio presented his method for using rhythm to help children discover their “reading voice.” A notable voice on our “Beyond Daddy Day Care” panel was Michael Robinson, himself a family home care professional. A stroll around the room during any break might reveal rich dialog between learned professionals on educational philosophies, preferred curriculums, or just two guys knocking around their favorite sports.

A group photograph of men teachersAttendees knew to check their credentials at the door, but qualifications varied from non-credentialed teachers through PhD’s and from relative new-comers to 25 years plus ECE veterans. All attendees work with young children in some capacity, but their job descriptions range from infant and toddler with special needs care coordinators, preschool teachers, preschool directors, early childhood special educators, family home care professional, language nest kumu, and an early school-age reading instructor.

A palpable bond emerged quickly between these guys, many of whom had never before laid eyes on one another. There was a lot of good natured ribbing, genuine caring, as well as tears. Few other gatherings would have allowed these otherwise stalwart men to risk such vulnerability. One young man who had felt obligated to attend the retreat, decided to stay past his planned mid-day departure because he was so moved by the learning and camaraderie he encountered.

Twelve men spent their Saturday spending their day with other men, and each and every one of their contributions made our 2006 HAEYC M.E.N. retreat a resounding success. After a good deal of personal reflection, what stands out the most in my mind was the abundant and robust shared male laughter: A sound rarely heard in most early childhood professional settings.

Don Piburn

Thursday, August 10, 2006

2nd Hawaiian Men Teachers on Retreat

by Don Piburn

The men of the Hawaii early childhood education (ECE) community are once again coming together for a retreat on the Island of Oahu – traditionally referred to as "the Gathering Place." [You can read about the success of the last retreat.]

The Hawaii Association for the Education of Young Children (HAEYC) Men in Education Network (M.E.N.) Interest Forum is sponsoring the 2006 M.E.N. Retreat on Saturday, August 26, 2006 in collaboration with

By employing methods outlined in Bryan Nelson's NAEYC pdf bulletin: "How to Organize a Retreat for Men," the 2006 M.E.N. Retreat offers male ECE professionals a chance to share personal experiences, exchange ideas, and hear diverse points of view.

[Editor’s Note: There is now a 16-page MenTeach Organizing Manual available for purchase that includes checklists and information,]

The 2006 M.E.N. Retreat will take place at the Aha Punanaleo O Waianae - a Hawaiian language and cultural immersion early childhood program. A significant challenge for any effort to examine male involvement in ECE is to ensure cultural sensitivity, particularly from the point of view of indigenous cultures who may not share child rearing and other values of a dominant culture. For example, several of the participants from the last retreat were surprised to hear that some of the men were really concerned about touching children. The Hawaiian men explained that touch is integral to the work they do and is assumed to be part of children and men's daily lives.

The Hawaiian language nest teachers bring a global perspectives to discussions on contexts that support men who work directly with young children. For Hawaiians and many other indigenous people worldwide, the development of language immersion programs in their communities has helped bring, not only their language but culture, back from the brink of linguistic and cultural extinction; their success is inspiring!

Another example of the differences is that gender is essentially irrelevant in Hawaiian language nest early childhood programs as the whole of their "ohana" (Hawaiian for family and inclusive of the entire community that raises the children) sees their "kumu" (teachers) as front-line linguistic and cultural champions. Consequently, there can be nearly as many male as female teachers, extended family male involvement in school activities surpasses what is typical, and the number of men who take an active role in ECE school governance is significant higher than elsewhere in the field of ECE.

Intended learning outcomes for the 2006 M.E.N. Retreat include:
1) Exchanging knowledge, ideas, and personal experiences with other men about working with young children.

2) Knowing and understanding how to develop a network of men and women who support the many roles of men in ECE.

3) Identifying specific topics and areas of interest for men in ECE.

4) Creating lesson, art, dance, story, or song to take home to share with fellow workers and children.

5) Other outcomes of attendees’ choosing.

NAEYC interest forums are defined as groups of members who share a common area of concern related to the organization’s mission, and who desire to network, reflect and learn together.” (Young children; V59 No. 6; pp. 83-94). The company of other male professionals can reduce feelings of isolation that are common threads for many men in ECE, yet all who work with young children do so in part because they are of a generally playful nature.

Play, games, learning, and physical activities are intentionally included to encourage retreat participants to relax, enjoy themselves, and get to know other male ECE professionals.

Look for a report in coming months!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Report from Montreal 2005 - World Forum

Men in the Lives of Young Children: The Roles and Contributions of Fathers, Father-figures, and Male Professionals in Early Childhood Education Key Issues

See World Forum Information.

The sadness and missing pieces experienced by some of the panelists because they didn't have a close relationship with their own fathers seemed to imply that one solution is to have men present in the classrooms and other early childhood settings. Children need to relate closely with both men and women. The growth of early childhood programs worldwide offers an opportunity to bring men into the lives of all children, especially those living in a family where the single parent is the mother.

Community in particular is affected by the steady presence of men - whether fathers or friends or teachers & caregivers. Relationships are fundamental to individual growth and development and to the stability of the community itself.

"Men matter to young children." Each culture must actively and consciously find ways in which men can be close to and educators of young children.

Global Implications
Panelists from a disparate group of nations that included Hawaii in the U.S. with its unique multicultural composition, Nepal, New Zealand, and Malawi described a variety of situations from first-hand experiences. They spoke about fathers "running away" or not being there for various reasons. Both boys and girls need strong relationships with men as well as with women.

Countries with a dominant culture and one or more sub-cultures are especially threatened by absent male leadership or by ineffectual presence. Roles for men and women, fixed in past generations, now fluctuate because of cultural change and by economic necessity.

Still, child care tends to be seen as women's work. Every nation and every culture and subculture has roles specific to gender. Everyone must find a way to overcome inflexible and inaccurate stereotypes. The world needs more nurturing men who can care for the children appropriately and with grace.

Men and women together in the early childhood profession must address the issues of males and females in the operation of preschools of all types. Each "side" must overcome its own stereotypes and recognize the value of having both men and women in ECE programs.

Quotes: "A child has a right to a father and a mother."

What does it mean to a child if his or her father is "detained by the government?"

Men in early childhood model what men do in the world itself.

Early childhood educators and leaders must "expect men to be in early childhood."

People have to sit down and talk.

Are teachers born? Or are they educated and trained to teach?

BELIEFS: Teachers are educated and trained, based on the ability to care for and educate appropriately the children in the community; ECE leaders must create a climate in which men can contribute to the care and education of young children: families must expect to see men taking active roles in ECE programs.

Edna Ranck, Ed.D.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Programs for Men Teaching in the Netherlands

The SBO, Council for the Education Labour Market in The Netherlands is an organisation that comprises of employers and employees' organisations in education. They have imposed themselves the task to improve the operation of the employment market for the education sector. Therefore SBO carries out various activities, all aiming at the operation of the labour market. The activities vary from the creation of a debate platform for employer and employee organisations, collecting statistical data, the management of extensive employment projects to carrying out small-scale pilot projects.

One of the trends in the Dutch education labour market is the feminisation of the teaching workforce in primary education. Therefore, the Council for the Education Labour Market made in 2004 an inquiry into attracting and retaining male teachers. As a part of this study we have explored international tendencies regarding the gender balance of the teacher workforce in primary education, in order to find good practices.

Pabo is in the Netherlands the Primary School Teacher Training College.

The word Paboys is a combination of the words pabo and boys and used in the title of the Dutch study: Paboys wanted! In continuation of the study the SBO supports six pilots that started this school year (2005-2006) in order to test how the matriculation of male students in becoming primary school teachers can be encouraged and how to prevent an early drop-out rate of these students from their studies and the profession. These pilot projects have been implemented by six Teacher Training Colleges for Primary Education who together form a network. The goal of this network is the compiling of knowledge regarding this subject as well as the exchanging of experiences. The pilots vary from: the development of an education course for theoretically more well educated (male) Teacher Training College for Primary Education students; to activities directed towards a cultural change in the study and training schools.

Kind regards.

Yours sincerely,
Paula Mensink, SBO

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Males in Australia Summit - July 2006

This is your opportunity to be a part of something extraordinary – a national gathering of men who are working and studying in early childhood – a first for the field in Australia. Come along and meet other men who are involved in this exceptional work, contribute your own stories and be inspired

This event is essential professional development for all men working or studying in early childhood.

See registration information.

Look for a report about the incredible work that's been happening in Australia!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Hi everyone,

I just returned from the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children annual meeting, where Zachary Price and I (Peretz Hirshbein) gave a paper and hosted a meeting of the very fledgling Michigan Men's Caucus.

Our paper was titled "Welcoming Fathers, Boys, and Male Staff into our Centers and Classrooms."

In it, we made the point that the problems of uninvolved fathers, critical shortage of male teachers, and the "boy crisis" are all connected, and that to solve any one of these problems, we must work on all three.

Over the past few years, we have presented at this conference on issues specific to male teachers, but these presentations had been ill-attended. On the other hand, our presentation this year drew a capacity crowd (about 25 - still in a small room) and generated a good discussion. This crowd was also pretty good considering that we had not been listed in the preliminary program.

In addition to the presenters, 5 of the attendees were men - all of them were in the early stages of their early-childhood careers, and really positive about their work.

At the beginning of the presentation, we asked the attendees to let us know which of the three constutuencies we discussed interested them most. The audience was most interested in involving fathers, and serving boys more effectively - not male teachers.

By the time the presentation was over, the audience had bought into the idea that getting more male teachers into our classrooms will help serve boys more effectively, and make our classrooms places fathers would be more comfortable. Locally, I am convinced that linking the issue of male teachers to the "boy crisis" will help people take notice.

Later in the day, we hosted a Men's Caucus meeting, at which we presented the current state of men in the profession, and had a great discussion about recruitment and retention with 15 male early childhood professionals!

This was a terrific turnout, considering that the same reception last year only drew four men! (it also helped that it made the conference program this year...last year we had to do word-of-mouth publicity for it.) Most of the men there were very positive about the choices they had made!

Peretz Hirshbein
Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Friday, March 31, 2006

Taking Steps In New England, USA

My name is Kitt Cox and I'm a husband/father/grandfather who's also a Program Coordinator for the Massachusetts Family Network as well as a member of the Children's Music Network.

I've been asked to share a glimpse of a workshop I had the pleasure to facilitate this week at the 7th Annual New England Fathering Conference.

At the close of the session, I borrowed a technique I'd learned from the good folks at the Children's Music Network. I asked the participants to gather in small groups to come up with actionable steps they could take the next day when they returned to their offices, centers or homes. here's what I wrote to them this morning;

"In an effort to "walk the walk after talking the talk," I'm here to offer my next step in trying to build the supply of qualified manpower available for the Early Childhood & Care (ECE) workforce.

When we met Wednesday afternoon, these were some of the ideas for immediate action that I heard. If you think of others, or have thought of new ones, please POST your comments below.

Here they are in no particular order:
  1. Head Start has been very successful at recruiting moms into their workforce. Could they do the same with dads?
  2. Create a summer internship for high school boys to work in an ECE setting.
  3. States like Massachusetts are offering ECE scholarships to build workforce capacity. Could some of this be targeted for men?
  4. Develop an affirmative action-type program for males in ECE.
  5. Recruit teen dads who you may already be working with.
  6. Increase visual images in centers, etc. to include more images of male caregivers and professionals.
  7. Lobby for a high school regiment, community service or elective placement related to working with young children and their families.
  8. Hold an ECE job fair that features male providers.
  9. Conduct a"fish bowl/roundtable" as a keynote event at fathering conferences and events.
  10. Plant positive media stories.
  11. Assess your situation, analyze your assets, allocate your resources, build alliances, aspire for big vision, and then advance.
  12. Plan a future retreat or workshop to develop recruitment strategies and to support those currently working in the field.
  13. Visit the website, register to their listserv or become a member of an advocacy group such as
  14. Create an informal list like this to build connections and momentum.
I appreciated the opportunity to facilitate a discussion at the conference. I hope it will be the first of many.

To borrow from the comment Joseph T. Jones, CEO of the Center for Fathers, Families & Workforce Development, made in his Thursday morning keynote address,

"Increasing the male workforce in family early education and care is not a men's issue - it is a children's issue."

Sunday, March 19, 2006

California's Men In Child Care

Here is a website for the California Association for the Education of Young Children's (CAEYC) contact information:

CAEYC website

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Workshop in Masschusetts, USA

I'll be facilitating a workshop titled:

"Where the Guys Aren't: Addressing the Lack of Male Involvment in Early Care in Education."

This will take place at the 7th Annual New England Fathering Conference in Framingham, MA 0n March 29, 2006.

Information is available at



Mr. Kitt Cox
Program Coordinator
Birth To Three Family Center
15 Market Street
Ipswich, MA 01938

Monday, January 09, 2006

Males in Early Childhood Australia

“Blokes can do it as well”

I would just like to let everyone know that the group definitely not been disbanded and I have not run away and found a cave to live in. There have been a couple of quiet months because I have been involved in setting up and opening a new centre from scratch (Emma’s Long Day Care, East Maitland, call 0249 331844), as you could imagine, it’s been a crazy time the last 3 or 4 months for your intrepid report writer.

Meeting Report – November 14th 2005

Who turned up?

Michael Gilray,
James Church,
Laurence Thorssell,
Michael Bramble,
Nick Chomyn,
Ben Sippel,
Bill Murphy &
Craig d’Arcy.

What did we talk about?
The meeting was held at the above mentioned centre, so we did a tour to begin with.
The discussion turned to men working and studying in isolation and some of the difficulties faced. We talked about parent perceptions and dealing with negative perceptions in a positive way. We also debated the difference in male and female perspectives on care and education.

Men in Early Childhood Summit
From this discussion flowed the idea of holding a men in early childhood summit next year. We came up with the following ideas;

Venue – Emma’s Long Day Care, East Maitland. We have six large rooms to hold workshops, as well as a large undercover verandah and two separate grassed areas. There is a full commercial kitchen and plenty of parking.
When – Over a weekend. We could gather on the Friday night, spend Saturday, Saturday night and Sunday until lunchtime. That would give participants time to travel home if needed.
Program – A mixture of getting to know each other, some workshops and networking / discussion time. Some workshop ideas suggested include; emergent curriculum, child protection issues for men, career development, effective mentoring, meeting the needs of boys, nature preschools, brain development and wooden toy making.
We would also hold a dinner on the Saturday night.
Outcomes – Apart from the opportunity this summit would provide for men to meet each other, there are some other possible outcomes;
To produce a document stating the group’s vision on how men can be recruited, retained and supported to work with young children and ways for policy makers / government/ training organisations to achieve this.
For a national mentoring database to be established, where experienced male workers are linked with men new to the field, including students.
For a video documentary to be produced of the summit, to be used a resource for other men, for training organizations and for other stakeholders.

Considerations –
· Cost for participants. If the summit is seen as professional development, will services pay towards their male worker’s attendance?
· Advertising. Can we put together a website to advertise, take registrations, etc?
· Who would be a good guest speaker to kick off the summit? Another good way to begin may be for a panel of men to tell their stories.
· Accommodation
· Meals
· Timing – when is a good weekend to hold this?
· Sponsorship – would Early Childhood Australia, DoCs, TAFE, etc be able to support the summit financially or in other ways?

These are some of the ideas we came up with during the meeting discussion. If anyone has some suggestions please let me know.

This will be a significant event, it has not been done before in Australia. Other countries have found that holding a similar event can be a great catalyst for advancing the awareness of men in the early years. The other countries that have success include the US, Norway, England and Scotland (and there are probably more).

The Males in Early Childhood Network Group has been meeting now for over two years. As a cohesive group, we figure that the time has come to expand our boundaries and really do something on a big scale. The summit will be an excellent way for men in early childhood to get together, meet each other and learn a great deal.

It would be great to hear your feedback on this idea. A message will be sent out early next year to provide details for the next meeting as well.

All the best for the holidays and looking forward to a great 2006, Craig.

P.S. Anthony Body, the Director of Orange Preschool, visited Newcastle recently. Whilst here, he had some free time and two choices - go Christmas shopping or meet up with a couple of the guys from the Network Group. Needless to say, it was great to meet Anthony as a few of us caught up at a local park. He said he enjoyed the opportunity to meet the guys and thinks the idea of holding a summit next year would be great.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Report: Male Teacher Conference in North Carolina

Men make up only 7.8% of elementary teachers in district

By Mindy B. Hagen : The Herald-Sun
[email protected]
Dec 4, 2005 : 10:52 pm ET

DURHAM -- Ray Alban teaches first grade at Easley Elementary School in Durham.

But the way Alban attracts attention when he walks through the halls, he's more like a rock star. He can hardly move without a student's arms wrapping around his legs in a giant hug.

Kindergarten students scream for him to entertain them by performing a trick in which he pretends to twist off one of his thumbs. And his own first-graders battle to see who can laugh the loudest at his jokes.

And that's before he enters the Easley cafeteria, where he eats lunch almost every day at a table with his students.

Eating might be the wrong word. Alban spends more time opening milk cartons, untwisting bags of chips and unwrapping cookies for his students than getting food into his own mouth.

"If I open it, I get the first sip," he jokes with one student. "That's my rule."

In his 15th year of teaching at Easley, Alban is well aware of one of the major factors behind his role as a school celebrity. He's the only male classroom teacher on staff.

"You do stand out," he admits. "I'm sure the kids notice me because I'm one of the only men here. It's a novelty to them."

The gender imbalance isn't unusual in Durham, or in the country. Durham school system administrators say only 7.8 percent of the district's elementary school teachers are men. The National Education Association says only 9 percent of U.S. elementary teachers are men -- the lowest level in the last 40 years.

Fred Williams, the Durham school system's executive director of teacher recruitment and retention, said the situation remains the same as he travels from job fair to job fair.

"It's just very rare to find a male who is super-intrigued by elementary teaching, anywhere," Williams said.

A recent conference at Carolina Friends School, attended by about 30 male teachers from North Carolina and Virginia, tried to explore issues preventing more men from seeking out careers in elementary education.

The sessions were organized by Carolina Friends School teachers Tim Wells and Michael Bonsignore, who mentioned that the private Quaker school is unique in trying to have at least one man teach on each team at each grade level.

Bonsignore said conference participants took part in thought-provoking discussions -- talking about everything from interacting with pregnant women colleagues in the teacher's lounge to wondering if limits should be placed on physical contact between male teachers and students.

"Making sensible guidelines for physical contact with students was a real topic of conversation," he said. "The fact remains that men are seen as suspect in environments with a lot of children. Kids beg to be cared for in a way where you need to hug them and nurture them, and that's something that women teachers don't have to consider."

In addition to those concerns and worries about a low starting salary, Bonsignore said he thinks more men don't look at careers in elementary education because they never had a male teacher during their school years.

Young boys are able to watch the male figures in their lives work in "macho" jobs such as policemen, firemen, lawyers and doctors, but not as teachers, he said.

"For young girls, almost all of their teachers were female," he said. "It's much easier for them to say, 'I can see myself doing this down the road.' "

Donald Barringer, who teaches third grade at Pearsontown Elementary in Durham, said he had no experience working with young children until he tutored second-graders as a volunteer with his Charlotte high school student council. That positive interaction led him to apply for a North Carolina Teaching Fellows scholarship.

After graduating from N.C. Central University, Barringer began teaching at Pearsontown in 2002. He also earned his master's degree last May.

"If I was never exposed to working with second-grade and fourth-grade children, I might have never made the choice to become a teacher myself," he said. "A lot of young men just don't know what it's like to work with kids, but they should really try it."

As a male teacher, Barringer is careful not to allow himself to get into a situation where a parent could accuse him of mistreating a child. He allows his students to give him leg hugs, shoulder hugs or high-fives. But he said he realizes he has set to set some boundaries.

"We do have to be more mindful, because kids will say the craziest things," he said. "You have to build trust and respect with your parents. I tell my parents that they are welcome to come and sit in on my class all the time. Once the trust is there, they see that you are there for their children and that helps a lot with relationship building."

As for Alban, the former Northern High School football player's love of elementary education helped inspire his younger brother, Michael, to enter the teaching field, too. Michael Alban is now a kindergarten teacher at Pearsontown.

Ray Alban said he appreciates the chance to serve as a positive male role model -- especially for students who have absent fathers.

"By the end of the year, we spend 1,000 hours with the children in our classroom," he said. "If we show them kindness, patience and love, it can only make a difference in their lives."

Karla Young, one of Alban's fellow first-grade teachers at Easley, said Alban's gender difference doesn't stop female colleagues from asking him for advice.

"I feel more comfortable with Ray than with anyone else at this school," Young said. "In addition to being a great father figure for the children, he has a great relationship with all of the faculty, staff and parents here."

According to his first-grade students, Alban also is master at keeping them laughing -- whether he's teaching them to draw a panda habitat or being silly in the lunchroom.

"When you learn with Mr. Alban, you still have fun," Easley first-grader Alexis Newnam said.

And unlike some men who start out as teachers with the hopes of becoming school principals or administrators, Alban said his heart remains in the classroom. He only hopes more men will follow his lead and become elementary educators.

"Twenty years down the road, I see myself doing the same thing," he said. "My enthusiasm hasn't gone away, it's grown. This is not an easy job, but it's a rewarding job. I really feel teaching is the best job in the world, and definitely, for men, the best kept secret."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Schools Want Male Teachers

BEIJING, Nov. 16 -- "Why do we have so few male teachers?"asks middle school student, Li Tie, who lives in Shijiazhuang, the capital of northern China's Hebei Province.

That's according to a report in the Hebei Daily Wednesday. The paper reports that when the student recalled his kindergarten, primary and junior high school days, he found him surrounded by women.

Li Tie's experience is not uncommon. When you visit Chinese kindergartens, primary or middle schools, you may be surprised to see there are very few male teachers on campus.

Read the Chinese New Report:

Thursday, October 06, 2005

New University of Missouri Program Seeks to Recruit Men to Join the Elementary Teaching Field

The program, called Men for Excellence in Elementary Teaching, or MEET, is seeking to bring in a cohort of the best qualified men who wish to pursue their master's degree in elementary education through the Teaching Fellows Program at MU. Participants would receive a yearly stipend from several education sources, as well as a modified course of study, such as a support seminar focusing on the roles and challenges of men in elementary schools.

For more information: University of Missouri-Columbia

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Imagine - Men in Childcare European Conference

"Imagine" a Men In Child Care conference in London, United Kingdom on
20 September 2005 sponsored by the National Children’s Bureau.

Kenny Spence and Colin Chisholm are coordinators.

Visit their website:

Download their Registration Form

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Workshop: Men Who Teach Young Children

Where: Carolina Friends School, Durham, NC

When: November 3rd and 4th, 2005

Cost: $75.00 includes; dinner, continental breakfast and lunch on Thursday.

For Registration call: Nancy @ 919 383-6602 Hotel booking help available.

For directions to the site visit the school website :

Organizers: Michael Bonsignore and Tim Wells

Download the Registration Form

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Don Piburn's Report from World Forum


World Forum Montreal
was awesome! I did a whole host of networking and felt successful in promoting the important contributions of men who teach young children. So much happened that frankly some of it is still a bit of a blur. However, I feel safe in suggesting that the Men in the Lives of Young Children (MLYC) session was a genuine success. I put up signs promoting our session and the follow-up enrichment session everywhere I could find an available space. The presentation was standing room only (I estimate we probably had around 60 attendees). The other presenters focused principally on the roles of fathers and father figures, although several did mention the roles of male teachers. Kishor Shrestha from Nepal, for example, showed several overheads of Nepalese men teaching young children. Ti Tuhi Robust of the New Zealand focused his comments on the loss of the Maori culture and language. Rev. MacDonald Sembereka of Malawi spoke of the essential function men serve in the lives of young African children. I was the official moderater for our session as well as presenting on expectations for male involvement in early childhood education.

The influence of cultural context was clearly evident in the audience discourse during our MLYC session. The presenters and their audience identified, analyzed, and debated the many roles and contributions of fathers, father-figures, and male early childhood education professionals to the health, development, and education of young children. The dialog regarding men who teach clearly generated the most interest and was really rich. For example, one session attendee from the United Kingdom made the statement that "Mummies do certain things and Daddies do certain things," which sparked a very heated discussion about changing gender-role expectations, particularly from the two-income-family female Canadian contingent.

A representative from one of the African nations referenced the "Men who Change Diapers Change the World" sticker that was on the backside of the overhead machine by noting that if she were to ask her husband to change diapers, the other men in the village would come to her wondering why she had "enslaved her husband." Several men who teach attended, and there was heated discussion about institutional and societal barriers to men's full participation in early care and education.

Bonnie Neugebauer came into our MLYC session briefly and later commented on the powerful dialog taking place while she was there. Several of the Canadian World Forum host country team members later commented that the presentation was "awesome." It will be interesting to hear what Dr. Edna Runnels Ranck, our World Forum session reporter, made of the session although her initial comments were favorable. A number of international early childhood education journal representatives even expressed interest in publishing on the topic of men in the lives of young children.

Roger Neugebauer of the World Forum Foundation and Child Care Information Exchange had arranged for the Austin, Texas based “Child Incorporated,” to record an encore performance of their “The Dads Show” radio show in Montreal for future broadcast. Their production engineer, Mr. Charlie Loving, audio and even digital video recorded the entire MLYC session including the audience’s involvement, did interviews with the presenters, and could be found throughout the duration of the conference with a microphone in hand questioning attendees on the role of father involvement in their home cultures and countries. The World Forum Montreal Dad Show will be edited, broadcast, and eventually archived and available world wide on the internet at

When we checked the conference program, we discovered that our MLYC Expansion Session overlapped with the World Forum International Dance. There's no way we could complete with what is perhaps the most popular activity at the World Forum, so the Expansion Session was not at all well attended. When the few of us there had learned what we could from each other, we all went next door to dance. What we were not able to accomplish at the Enrichment Session, I got rolling through face-to-face networking over the next several days. I had taken 70 “Expect Male Involvement” buttons with me to Montreal. I gave them out one at a time, yet they were all gone by mid-day on the third day.

Roger Neugebauer read the following statement we drafted during the Friday afternoon Future Plans portion of the World Forum Montreal Farewell Luncheon:

"The World Forum (WF) Montreal”Men in the Lives of Young Children Session" and the associated follow-up 'Enrichment Session" created a unique opportunity for men and their allies to gather from all segments of the global early childhood education (ECE) community on behalf of the many important roles men play in the lives of young children. The principal global outcome that resulted will be a WF "Men in the Lives of Young Children Working Forum." This Working Forum will:

• Identify the many important cultural, societal, and global roles of men in the lives of young children.

• Highlight the impact that the absence of fathers and fathering figures has in the lives, identity, behaviors, and identity of women and young children

• Promote global action on behalf of the many contributions of men in nurturing, educating, and guiding young children's development."

Our Working Group will be loosely patterned after last year’s “Working Forum Belfast” effort. The exact nature of the above World Forum outcomes is still evolving. It now appears that the principal focus of our Working Forum will be on men’s roles specifically in early childhood education. Other emerging possibilities include Working Forum resolutions, a World Forum World wide network, future World Forum pre-conference sessions, conference sessions, Web casts, etc., etc. Several people at the post World Forum reception noted that the MLYC efforts seemed to have moved our issues forward, and I personally couldn’t ask for any more than that.


Donald Piburn

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

World Forum in Montreal

I am leaving this coming Monday for the World Forum in Montreal May 17 - 20, where I am coordinating a Men in the Lives of Young Children session.

Our session will be recorded for use in a repeat performance of a radio show called "The Dad Show" that was broadcast from last year's World Forum.

"The Dad Show" is an hour-long, weekly call-in radio show/world-wide web-cast dedicated to fathers and produced by Child Incorporated, a Head Start Grantee in Austin, Texas.

I am also coordinating an "Enrichment Session" evening follow-up to our "Men in the Lives of Young Children" session, which is essentially a discussion group of conference attendees to consider global outcomes on important issues related to the lives of young children and families.

Don Piburn

Monday, May 09, 2005

Working in China

Still in China here; I'm working with Kindergarten, middle school and high school students now, the kindergarteners are my favorite group I think.

Still having a hard time trying to deal with certain persons who don't like to see men working with kids, mostly the Americans coming to China.

Currently I'm in my third year working as a volunteer for an International Church group, that's the only place that I'm having trouble with a handful of un-happy attendees.

In the public schools of China, they are very happy to have me working with the children, both young and old alike; for some reason, certain Americans, mostly ladies it seems, have no use for men who feel called to work with kids. Perhaps they resent the relationships I've built over the months with the youngsters, its really hard to say whets eating at them, they certainly don't want to discuss any of their concerns with me, only to others when I'm not present.

I think more fellows should experience the rewarding challenge of investing in youngsters, I find it very rewarding.


Tim Hawley
[email protected]

Saturday, May 07, 2005

A Report From St. Louis, MO. USA

Several of us here in St. Louis have been holding open forum discussions of men working with young children. We have offered this for about the past 12 years usually at a fall and spring conference and several times at the state and regional conferences (when they are in St. Louis).

We would like to be in touch and gain from your experiences. We have tried several times to more formally organize and meet outside of the local conference setting, but have not had success.

Some of what we have learned:

-We almost always get a mix of men and women, which caused us to switch our thinking and invite women.

We have evolved to thinking 'children need men and women working together' (I think this is taken from NAEYC)

-Stages of male teachers include:
Being a male in the classroom (token male)
Being a male teacher
Being a professional teacher

-Women are interested because:
They want to get men in their program
They want to know how to deal with families that are concerned with male teachers
They want to know how to work with a male co-teacher or director
They want to support men in the field
-We struggle with supporting a 'men's support group' and supporting 'men and women working together'

Our last two forums were attended by males only, which can lead to different discussions and support from a mixed group (both are necessary)

We are presenting at our AEYC spring conference and use part of the discussion time to inquire about organizing outside of the conference setting.

Alan Berkbigler

Reports from Hawaii, USA

I can't believe it is summer already. Where did the time go?

I wrote and defended another proposal to our State Affiliate Board to have the M.E.N. Interest Forum at the affiliate level back in early February or so, as you know. It was accepted, so we now have a home and a mechanism to organize further "men who teach" (or work with young children) efforts.

Having HAEYC affiliate level interest forums was really well received here, as there are a number of other interest groups that it was felt this set an excellent precedence for. I have already shared my proposal as a template to a family home care providers group.

Our current State President (Michael Fahey) was fully in favor of a 2nd follow-up guy's retreat (He attended the first one), but all these other leaders are looking to me to take the lead on this.

I am making serious recruitment efforts among the other guys trying to encourage their involvement, including trying to get the Hawaii Baptist Early Childhood Association to pick it up and/or have a particular PhD candidate attendee take it on as a ready made study cohort, but there just aren't any takers at the moment.

Don Piburn