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Men in EYFS

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by nhdut15, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. I am a male teacher and before going on to supply taught across the primary age range, including reception.
    Last week I had a week long placement in a reception class. I had a phone call from my supply agency consultant saying how I had received the best ever feedback from the school that the agency had ever had for one of their teachers, apparently the school couldn't praise me enough. However, my consultant then let slip that when I was booked, and she had sent my details, that the school contacted her and queried sending a male teacher to cover reception. They actually asked if they could have a famale teacher instead but my consultant stuck to her guns and they obviously still ended up with me. I was totally shocked by this attitude as the school was lovely and extremely welcoming.
    It's no wonder that there are a lack of males in Early Years with attitudes like this. Has anybody else come across this attitude? Why do schools/teachers have this attitude?
    When I first went into reception I attended some EYFS courses and the tutors were ecstatic to have a man on the course, as were all of the other teachers who were also there. The only downside was I stuck out like a sore thumb and I was constantly called upon to answer the questions or talk as the tutors remembered my name much more easily than any of the 39 women who were also there!
    Anyway, getting back to the point of this thread, how could the negative attitude towards men in the Early Yearsbe dealt with? How could we encourage more men to teach this age range?
  2. cheekychops

    cheekychops New commenter

    Very interesting point to make. I am female and have worked in FS for 30+ years, for the first time in my career we have had a male NNEB student and it has been brilliant. He brought a totally new dimension to the classroom and was loved by all of the children particularly the boys. He was really hands on, though needed direction with the more mundane jobs. He loved being outdoors and was a good role model in particular for the boys. He worked well as a member of our team and will be sorely mised.
    I think this whole ethos of suspicion about men in the classroom stems from the bad press that men in early years have been given. I think it is such a shame given the breakdown of family life nowadays that even more so male teachers in school have a vital role to play. As for having more men in the early years i really don't have an answer i think its perhaps like us females when you work in early years you just know if this is for you or not.
  3. rosiecg

    rosiecg Occasional commenter

    I'm currently in the first year of BEd Early Years - there are 16 girls and 1 guy on the course. The kids love having him as their teacher, and we love having him on the course as he brings a whole different set of opinions and ideas to the table.
    I think lots of young guys think that early years is all about wiping noses and teaching kids to read. They want to be teachers, but at secondary level, doing PE or maths... We need to show people that early years is more practical and outdoorsy - I don't know many guys who don't enjoy being a bit silly in the mud, building dens and poking worms... Obviously I'm a bit biased as I live in Cornwall and we're all about being outdoors, but I really think promoting the fun factor of early years would be a good way to go.
    On the BEd Primary course at my uni there are about 150 students - there are about 30 guys, which shows that not all men want to teach secondary! (In fact quite a few of those guys have been overheard saying they are jealous of Chris, the guy on our course, and not just because he gets to work with us lot all the time!)
    The class I am working in at the moment is yr2, with a male teacher who is absolutely brilliant with the kids. He started off doing a PGCE in secondary maths but changed to primary after a placement in a primary school. Just goes to show that if men tried working with younger kids they just must like, or even prefer it!
  4. rosiecg

    rosiecg Occasional commenter

    *just MIGHT like, not just must!!
  5. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I don't understand the attitude. I think it's a shame there aren't many more men in nursery and primary. I wonder if some mothers make a fuss for some silly reason and that's one of the reasons why this school was cautious about having you. Or if it's because women get so used to working together and chatting together in a particular way in nurseries and primaries that a man almost feels like an "intruder" to them.
    Whatever it is, it is a great shame. I think all children would benefit from a better mix of male and female teachers at both nursery and primary level.
    Sexism does not seem to me to have declined over the years. One would hope that it might have done now we have far more scientific information to disprove a lot of the popular myths about differences between the sexes. I think there are quite a few people who deep down think that a man would have to be strange in some way to want to work with babies, toddlers, young children. I don't know why.
    Worse still, I think there a lot of mothers and female teachers who regard boys as a pain relative to girls, almost from birth. It would scare me to think that a son or daughter of mine could be with such a woman all day every day.
  6. My friend has been a playworker for over 25 years. He was a playworker at a kids club I attended when I was younger and was absolutely fantastic. He gets involved with the children's play, encouraging learning, often playing "in role" as opposed to just observing and taking notes. He allowed us to take risks safely such as when he caught us all trying to do headstands, he helped to teach us how to do it safely (obviously this was 10 years ago now! lol). Children loved that he was a male, as others have said it adds a new dimension and approach and many children at our kids clubs came from broken homes or where father's worked away and so loved the adult role-model. He has spent many years enjoying the outdoors, is outside in all weathers, where other playworkers have often moaned about being cold/wet. In the last year however, he has given up playwork which I think is a huge shame. His reason? He's now 55 and the attitude he receives from some parents/co-workers is enough to make him unhappy and want to quit. He worked at a kids club in a very affluent area last year for two years. When he started three mothers complained that a male was working at their child's kids club. Mainly fueled by the media some people find it very hard to understand that any man over the age of around 30 could possibly want to play/work with young children. As a result he found himself being over-aware of everything he did and this he claims ruined the job for him. Things he'd always done previously and never thought about, he was constantly second guessing other's opinions. Such as if a child falls over and is visibly distressed, he felt completely unable to put an arm round them or comfort them in any way. He felt he couldn't play alongside children to support their learning and had to take a more observational role.
    Sadly, with some cases in the media recently, involving women practitioners, my friend has been in some way relieved that they have come to light, as unfortunately it proves that it is not only men who may ever want to wish children harm. This obviously risks parents etc being deeply mistrustful over any practitioner but I do think it is such a shame that sexism exists to such a huge degree in early years. As far as I can see, those attitudes are forcing very effective and inspiring playworkers/teachers/TA's out of our schools and childcare provision and risk passing on those prejudices to the children themselves.
  7. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    This is so sad. Is it a British phenomenon or pretty much the norm everywhere?
    Of course, if we could wipe away all these silly prejudices and fears about men caring for children rather than women, would there still be fewer men in the early years and primary because of pay etc?
    And is it just some mothers who are concerned about men caring for their children, or do some fathers have the same feeling too?
    It's all so much to do with habit too. I couldn't care less whether it was a man, a woman or a giraffe who looked after my children so long as they did it well, but when a man did appear in my children's nursery for a few months, although I thought it was great I did feel a bit strange myself for a while as the place had been just SO female for such a long time. I can't explain what or why, but it was like an alien had turned up!!
  8. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I think this is the most common view from parents and teachers.
  9. Rest assured it is a more natural balance and the male-female dynamic is very positive not only for children but for the staff. We are more balanced and as such the children are better held and lifted up to the stars.
  10. I am a man that has worked in Early Years for 5 years now. I'm under 30 and have never come across any issues around me working with children. I hope I have a positive relationship with parents and so far if there has ever been an issue they have felt comfortable approaching me or a member of staff. If anything I usually recieve positve feedback from working in early years and providing a role model. I was at a leaders network meeting the other day, I was 1 of 2 men, it's sad :-S
    Going back to the orginal post it does get annoying when you are the only man on the course and you end up with loads of questions targetted at you because you are a man.
    Interestingly enough though, I am currently having a debate with the senior leadership team about weopon and superhero play and she happened to say she doesnt know if we are seeing it differently because of our sex. Just to clear up she sees how it works in Early Years but is not comfortable with upper KS1 and KS2 playing 'guns'. Work in progress.
    The main thing that annoys me about working in Early Years is not the lack of men, but the annoying attitude of people who do not work in Early Years/Teaching and make the 'awww how cute' comment implying it is easy work!! ARGH gets to me everytime!
  11. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    I think we all get that, it annoys me too - if only these people would come down to our end of the school sometimes and see what it's really like!
  12. We have no male staff at all, not even the caretaker, and we are not ever likely to.
    My Head says that men are lazy and all they want to do climb ladders in the easiest way possible.
    After a child protection course she went on she said she would never employ another man again.
    I could weep...
  13. That is an awful attitude! I can't believe she would even dare say that out loud!!!!!
    I definately dont want to climb any career ladders, whether its easy or difficult, I just want to be a class teacher. I know many more female teachers who want to climb the career ladder in the easiest way possible than male teachers.
  14. Hi,

    I am currently in my final year of University undertaking a BA (Hons) Education and have chosen to base my dissertation on the attitudes towards men in the Primary sector and the key factors in which dissuade men to enter Primary education, in pursuit of Secondary education, perhaps.

    I would really appreciate if anyone could offer their opinions, or answer any of the following questions which I could use as evidence for my project, such as:

    Why do you feel more women than men choose to teach primary education?

    What could be the impact of having little or no male role models in the primary sector?

    From your experience what are (or are their any) common attitudes/barriers faced for men going into the primary sector?

    What are your views/experiences on the progression for male teachers into senior management roles within the primary sector?

    Any feedback would be very much appreciated!!
    Thank you
  15. I meet a lot of student teachers these days and am always amazed that the universities / colleges set / accept such banal assignments. Almost all dissertations I see are about gender, race, religion, inclusion, social mobility (reflecting the priorities of the lecturers. Student research should focus on key areas of education such as how to teach reading, writing and maths.
  16. I too also meet a lot of students and am amazed at the diverse range of topics they choose to focus on for their dissertations. Perhaps a more generous attitude towards a student seeking advice on this forum would be helpful rather than your less than helpful comment!

  17. Well done sponge bob! Bear it in mind teejay because often the decisive factors in teaching are nothing to do with a method to teach reading etc. I'll give you an example. I know someone very well, a male working in the early years, gifted and talented, very committed, a science graduate, excellent with young children, a good teamplayer, sensitive and with an original mind- ie as good as you could hope to find.

    ONe day he responded to the support needed by one of his key groups children's parent. ALong with a colleague( also this parent's-a woman- cousin - by chance) after school they went to help her as she had left her son yet again at nursery. They took the child home. They entered thought the open window as the door was locked from the inside. The floor was a carpet of broken glass and syringes. The mother completely naked was walking in a trance, high on drugs and the victim of some kind of violent event at the home. THe staff members duly organised a safe place for the child, police and social services support for the mother. THe following day the mother came to the nursery seeking to change nursery to a part of the borough where she could escape the circumstances described. OUtr colleague spent time after work writing for her a letter to the council. The male worker in question meanwhile supported the young child as he worked out these experiences in his daily interactions with adults and children. INdeed the boy built a clear link with this worker, for wholly obvious reasons. (remember here we are talking of a three year old in a nusery setting with a safeguarding practice of open doors into bathrooms, colleagues present at toileting accidents that required changing etc. , So far so good.

    At 11 am the day after a plain clothes DC arrived to say that a sexual allegation had been made against the male member of staff by the mother and that he (the staff) was required to leave the premises immediately whils an investigation was initiated.

    I know this colleage went home in a state of shock, defenseless and alone as no-one in school was allowed to contact him or indeed know the reasons for his sudden absence- although not difficult to hazard a guess. In his panic and confusion he later told how he had destroyed any pictures he had of his nephwes and nieces in bathing costumes, in the bath as babies or on the beach - innocent family snaps gathered in the course of life. There is primed nuclear detonation button in the UK which can blow apart the professional and personal credential of a male teacher and it is a very real shadow which haunts all. The excessive focus, agrandisment of risk and suspicion of males with young children all in the name of child protection and paedophilia are enormous factors to bear in mind when considering the lot of the male early years worker.

    Finally after an agonising few days the DC phoned the school ackowledging that procdures had not been followed and the slightest examination of the parents claims revealed their impossibility, However the damage was done. I believe that colleague has still not received from the police any defintive end along the lines that there was no evidence to a false claim with apologies for the haste in jumping to conclusions

    SO it is not that simple Teejay. We can all get better at the how of teaching - that is the nature of any skill, but the why- that is not so clear cut, and there are as many whys as there are students,

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