by Don Piburn, Chattahoochee Technical College (CTC), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) – Men in Education Network (M.E.N.) and the Child Care Information Exchange held A National Symposium – Men in the Lives of Young Children on Wednesday, November 9, 2006 as a pre-conference session at the annual NAEYC National Conference.

The symposium featured developments on men in the lives of young children and opportunities to learn the skills necessary for developing programs to recruit, support, and retain men teachers. Male and female teachers, center and Head Start directors, university and college faculty, principals, and interested others presented and attended.

The event was filled to capacity, although a number of walk-in attendees were permitted to observe the discussion process.

Attendees were welcomed by the symposium organizers and co-coordinators of the NAEYC – M.E.N.:

  • Bryan Nelson of
  • Frances Carlson of Chattahoochee Technical College, and,
  • Rodney West of San Diego Unified School District.

Brief remarks were made by Mark Ginsberg, the Executive Director of NAEYC and John Southwood, the Director of College Development at CTC.

The event was structured to encourage the exchange of information, ideas, and insights about the many roles of men in the lives of young children. Morning and afternoon breakout sessions where divided into three separate roundtables: one targeting higher education faculty, a second for teachers, and a third focusing on Principals, Directors, and Supervisors.

Facilitators shared research, projects, experiences, beliefs, and connected with conference attendees through handouts, roundtable discussions, and even games.

Good food assures good times
The buffet lunch was delicious, bountiful, and afforded attendees unstructured time to network and connect. Attendees received stylish “Expect Male Involvement” tee shirts, with extras available for purchase. A particularly helpful bonus came in the form of a bound booklet on Men in ECE including a bibliography cross referenced to related articles, reports, publications, and resource information.

Closing activities featured input from the presenters and attendees alike regarding what they had learned and how they intended to use the new information once they returned home.

Representatives from the World Forum Foundation and shared information on upcoming international Men in ECE events including a planning event set prior to the 2007 World Forum on Early Care and Education in Koala Lumpur, Malaysia and an associated international Working Forum on Men in ECE set for Honolulu, Hawaii in 2008.

Transnational, national, and regional conferences, symposiums, summits, and retreats on the many roles of men in ECE are becoming increasingly common around the world.

What follow up actions will result from A National Symposium – Men in the Lives of Young Children 2006 depends on the will of the attendees, yet this event created a unique opportunity for men and their allies to gather from all segments of the ECE profession to share and network on behalf of male involvement in ECE at the neighborhood, community, and societal level.