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More men in kindergarten project planned

A recent study has revealed that kindergarten children need male teachers in addition to female teachers.

The study was conducted over a three-year period by the Faculty for Educational Sciences at the University of Innsbruck in Tirol. It sought to answer how men function within the kindergarten environment and the affect that male kindergarten teachers have on the children. Since the findings were positive, a so-called "action research project" will be launched to motivate more men to enter the profession.

According to one of the project’s leaders Bernhard Koch, a quarter of young boys in Austria would not only find the job of a kindergarten teacher interesting but could also imagine themselves in the role. Koch said: "A second quarter showed no interest as they do not consider the job as one which is fitting to men. Through our project what we want to achieve is to make a career as a kindergarten teacher an attractive option for men and to ensure that those who are interested are given support."

The project will run on a broad basis and receive support from the government, from the city of Innsbruck and the Public Employment Service (AMS), as well as from educational institutions. Work experience in kindergarten teaching will be available in schools and through the AMS.

Koch said: "Children certainly know from an early age that there are men and women, but they are growing up in environments which are becoming increasingly female-dominated – such as kindergartens, creches and primary schools where only 10 per cent of teachers are male. For children, especially boys, men are important. Men question educational norms and they assess risks differently to women. What can I and what should I expect from a child? Men could really enrich the kindergarten environment."

The research project will run for the next three years, into 2015. The project’s main aims are to clarify which measures should be used to bring more men to the profession and which measures should not be used.

Men who are interested in becoming kindergarten teachers can contact Bernhard Koch at bernhard.j.koch@uibk.ac.at

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