So what is MENu?
Down to Earth Practical Solutions, hosted (for the very first time), a special day in February 2017 on the ACT/NSW border at Ibis Styles, called MENu.
The title MENu came about as a clear play on words. The emphasis being men (hence the upper case) and the ‘u’ being a focus on ‘u as the individual and collective. For example; what are you doing about advocating for males in ECEC.
Why was it special?
It was special because it was the first time an eclectic group of people supporting and advocating for greater diversity in ECEC with a focus on males had come together in the one place. Inspired EC, Catharine Hydon Consulting and HESTA all made commitments and contributions.
Folks came from South Australia, Victoria, NSW, ACT and Queensland. Large service providers such as Goodstart had representatives from multiple states as well as a bundle of wonderfuls from Gowrie Victoria, and many others too, like the YMCA in ACT and stand-alone services too.
What happened at MENu?
Males were visible and celebrated. Research was conveyed and stories told. Personal and professional accounts came from the heart and soul of passionate educators. Qualified, experienced, Working with vulnerable people checked male educators and teachers who (like the sector in general), are under-valued and underpaid, however, being male was much more than that to those who spoke up.
For some it was about community perception of males in ECEC that did not paint imagery that was inclusive or supportive. There is gender disparity and for a range of reasons. There is a need for greater and more vocal action and understanding of the important role both males and females bring to the lives of children. The silent acknowledgement of discrimination, inequality and unjustness was brought to the table through robust discussions about imagery, expectations, ‘unwritten position statements, marketing and promotion and inclusiveness.
What are the actions from MENu?
Let males in early childhood and education and care settings know they do not stand alone by using inclusive language in verbal and written communication;
Contact your local Early Childhood Australia (ECA) branch to call for resources to support ECA’s Statement of Inclusion to support males working with children;
Ensure that recruitment advertisements use inclusive language such as ‘men are welcome to apply’;
Reflect as a service of the ‘unspoke duty statement’ differences between male and female educators;
As a sector provide feedback to Registered Training Organisations (RTO’s) on how they can support male student educators;
RTO’s can provide information to services about the benefits of having male student educators and supporting them well from the word go;
Down to Earth Practical Solutions, Catharine Hydon Consulting and HESTA formed an initiative to make males working with children more visible in marketing and professional learning materials. Please email your high res picture to Down to Earth, accompanied by the permission form and a bit of a story about who you are and what you do, and we will do our best to include you in our publications, power points, promotional material, resources made available for services across Australia to purchase. (The form is available to download here).
Where to from here?
The above actions are not just a list. Every single one of them has commenced being actioned, not by one person, by many and in different pockets of our ECEC nation.
We want to draw your attention to some supportive and informative facebook pages;
The MENtor Program for Males in ECE
MANscaping – The Male Educator
Males in Early Childhood Education
Social Justice in Early Childhood
Following the success of the 2017 Inaugural MENu, stay tuned for the date and location for 2018.
Read First Years Early Childhood Consulting 'Putting the 'U' and 'I' into Equality' article here