More men are needed in early education

15th June 2007 at 01:00
As you reported recently, there is little doubt that men, in growing numbers, are beginning to see that childcare and early education courses can lead to genuine career opportunities.

In just a few short weeks, we will see another class of students walking out of our doors and moving up the next step in their career path. Luckily for the children of the future, 10 of the 100 students who are completing our HNC in early education are men. I visited a crechenursery in Lyon, France, recently and found the staff group was made up of five males and five females. This unusual gender-balanced workforce seemed to produce genuine harmony between all practitioners and children, with an almost "extended family" atmosphere.

In a society where there are increasing numbers of children without positive male role models, the education setting may provide some with their only consistent examples. We need to strive to break down the barriers which would deny children the undoubted benefits that male and female role models provide. Part of the problem may be that males and females are pressured into occupational roles on the basis of gender stereotypes. Even though conditions have changed dramatically, men and women are still being assigned traditional roles and occupations as if society and the needs of society have not changed.

Gordon Plews senior lecturer in early education, Stevenson College, Edinburgh

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