Design and Nature: Considerations from Men in Early Childhood Education

The Working Group on Men in Early Childhood Education (MECE) acknowledges the value of gender balance in our field and seeks ways to collaborate with others on benefits and strategies for recruiting more men to care for and educate young children. The collaborative component is especially valuable because it fosters impactful discourse, reflective thinking, and unity in a field that has been defined by socially constricted norms.
Considering a uniquely male perspective brings strengths and opportunities for growth to the Working Forum on Design and Nature. What are just a few examples of male characteristics that benefit children?

  1. Building and construction has typically been a viewed as a “male thing.” How can we use men’s skills in this area to empower young girls?
  2. Balancing the gender identity needs of girls and boys helps to safeguard children from social forces that can otherwise condition them to accept gender stereotypes. How can we empower young children through gender-neutral collaboration in the planning, design, and construction of their ideas?
  3. In what ways can men and women collaborate to provide ample opportunities to practice risk management and bravery, through risk-taking play?
  4. The presence of men working directly with young children impacts families. By making meaningful relationships with children, all educators make meaningful relationships with their families. A gender balanced early care and education workforce encourages fathers to become more involved and invested in their children’s schools and overall education. In what ways can a male perspective shape an environment to be welcoming to fathers?

Men who work directly with young children challenge “traditional” gender roles and highlight the importance of pursuing individual passions based on free will and not on assumptions.
Men need women; women need men; children need both.