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Men who Teach Young Children: An International Perspective by David Brody

Reviewed by Dr S Alexander
© ChildForum
book cover for David Brody

Gender equality is viewed internationally as a desirable goal. But while this goal has translated to a significant opening of traditional male roles to women, men’s entry into traditional female work has been slower. The dearth of men involved in early childhood care and education is a case in point.

In “Men who teach young children” author Dr David Brody provides a penetrating look at not only the lives and personal beliefs of male early childhood and kindergarten teachers but also the cultural values and conditions that have shaped and influenced the path they travel.

Through the eyes of male teachers in six different counties Dr Brody examines how men who are successful teachers of young children have crossed the gender boundary. He reports on observations of the teachers’ practices and interview material concerning their path to teaching, what they do in their job and their methods of teaching and caring for children.

The men’s personal stories and Dr Brody’s observations of each teacher along with findings from discussions with the men’s supervisors and country experts are presented as short individual vignettes.

Each vignette is immensely interesting reading and has a clear structure to enable the reader to later compare and contrast the experiences, views and behaviours of each teacher and the family, socio-cultural and political factors that surround. The final chapter brings it all together, reflecting on the study findings, the unique contributions that the men make to the care and education of children and cross-cultural similarities and differences.

The text is written with a great deal of precision. Complex terminology is avoided. Explanations of any concepts that may not be known by readers in different countries are seamlessly interwoven into the text.

The study is supported by a synthesis of international and culturally-specific literature on gender and men in teaching. This alone is worth reading as it brings clarity to what knowledge exists, and the research evidence and theories that inform the current knowledge base.

“Men who teach young children” is a book that is difficult to put down once opening pages are read because along with providing a study of gender and men in teaching, it provides a fascinating look at the personal philosophies and pedagogical styles of expert early childhood teachers. For example, we learn about the teachers’ different and similar ways to supporting children to be independent, to doing nappy changing and toileting and even their approaches to decorating their classroom walls. Dr Brody found multiple ways of caring and nurturing young children among the teachers, yet all were expert teachers and all were tuned into the emotional state of the child and able to effectively read the situation and the reality for the child.

So while the primary audience for the book is people who are interested in gender equality, I would also recommend it to teachers and student teachers as a key text for reflection and professional learning.

Publisher: The Institute of Education Press, London
Format: Paperback / softback, 172 pages, 234 mm x 156 mm
ISBN: 9781858565170
Published: 2014
Imprint: Trentham Books
Available from: www.ioepress.co.uk

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