A colleague in New South Wales, Greg Harvey, is an early childhood educator and posts the Males In Early Childhood Education blog. Through his work and his blog he advocates for, reflects upon, and provides support for male educators working in early childhood. He recently posed an ask on a forum we both participate in looking for male perspectives. It is just this kind of thing that makes me enjoy how the internet brings educators together to share and brainstorm, bringing diverse and wide(r) ranging perspectives and idea-sharing opportunities. I read his ask and immediately started thinking about how gender roles play out in my own professional experience. Not in terms of teaching children—we are conversant and comfortable with exploring and opening up conversations about gender, gender-roles, and stereotypes with children. Young children and their unique ability to be open to new ideas makes this easy.
Parent cooperatives, founded by educators and parents together, have a long history as serving as incubators for creating teachers—parents, after working in the classroom and in administrative positions, often switch careers and go into teaching. Other folks already in education find their practice/focus reinvigorated through their experiences in the parent cooperative model. Anecdotally, we can see that the men involved often follow a well-documented pattern. They go into elementary or secondary classrooms and more often administration. Tom Hobson or Teacher Tom, a teacher and blogger who also teaches in a parent cooperative school has written a lot of posts brainstorming about this pattern.
Greg’s ask prompted me to get in touch with a co-oping father who is a secondary school teacher, co-oper, and board member, to ask about his take-aways from his time in our classrooms and on the board. I sent these along to Greg and you can read our co-oping dad's insightful comments by following this link.
We all learn through modeling. Educators like Greg Harvey, Scott Wiley of Brick by Brick, Matt Halpern of Look at My Happy Rainbow, and Teacher Tom will inspire more men to take up teaching very young children, bringing new voices and perspectives into the early childhood classroom. I hope that the words that this co-oping dad shared with us also helps inspire others.