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Celebrating Men in Early Care and Education
October 16, 2023
Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.
-John Dewey (1859 - 1952), American psychologist

Today we celebrate two men in the early care and education profession, both of whom have written popular and helpful books.

In the foreword to Nick Terrones’ bookA Can of Worms: Fearless Conversations with Toddlers, Ann Pelo and Margie Carter write, “A two-year-old and her teacher, Nick, lie on their bellies eye to eye with a worm. The toddler, Paige, tries to fit the worm into an organizational system—male or female, boy or girl. She asks, ‘Does the worm have a penis?’ Her question hangs in the air while Nick gulps and collects his thoughts, aware that this question could carry them into intimate considerations. ‘How much should I say? How little?’ he wonders. And he finds his answer in ‘one of my highest values, which is to honor children’s thinking by ... responding honestly. I decided to stick with Paige and her curiosity, her desire to understand, rather than let my anxieties stifle the conversation.’

In his book Oh Boy! Strategies for Teaching Boys in Early Childhood, Francis Wardle notes, “Young boys and girls act, behave and learn differently in many ways…
An increasing body of research also suggests that not only do men and women interact differently with young children, but young children seek out men or women based on the kinds of stimulation they want.”

Wardle plumbs biological, historical, social and educational contributors to these generalized differences, how they impact both boys and girls, and what we can learn from all of this to create more boy-friendly (and child- and adult-friendly) early childhood programs.

And in a Content Hub video on The Gender Gap, Wardle acknowledges the diversity among girls and also among boys, but also notes that boys are much more likely than girls to be disciplined, expelled, put on behavior plans and recommended for special needs services “not because there’s anything wrong with them but because we have a mismatch between what boys need and what we’re doing with boys. And this mismatch is twofold: 1, it’s social, how we interact…and 2, it’s physical, it’s the environment.”


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Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
Nancy Rosenow · October 16, 2023
Lincoln , NE, United States

Very well said Francis!

Francis Wardle · October 16, 2023
University of Phoenix/ Red Rocks Community College
Denver, Colorado, United States

I am, of course, delighted to see this mention of my book, Oh Boy, in EED! I want to point out that one of the chapters in the book is dedicated to increasing the number of men in our field - both family members, staff, and community volunteers. It is simply a disgrace that there are so few men in ECE, especially in the classroom. While lack of money is often cited from this lack of inclusion of men in ECE (I can never quite understand why we accept lack of pay for women in the field), there are other factors that keep the numbers so depressingly low, including bias by society, parents, administrators, and even members of our industry. If we truly believe in DEI, we MUST proactively address this imbalance.

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