IN SEARCH OF MAS­CULIN­ITY

There is cur­rently a ma­jor lack of male teach­ers in China and au­thor­i­ties are get­ting in­creas­ingly con­cerned with the ram­i­fi­ca­tions

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

Zhu Yan­jun, a 35-year-old mother of two boys, has re­sponded by mak­ing her chil­dren take part in ac­tiv­i­ties such as football, ice hockey and taek­wondo reg­u­larly.

“I’ve no­ticed that my four-yearold son is not good at sports and team­work as there is hardly such ac­tiv­i­ties in the kinder­gartens. That’s why I firmly told him that he has to go play football, so that he can be tough and strong,” said Zhu.

The China Wel­fare In­sti­tute Kinder­garten in Shang­hai is one of the few in­sti­tutes around that cham­pion the im­por­tance of team­based ac­tiv­i­ties. It has also been one of those that have con­sis­tently em­ployed male teach­ers since the late 1990s. Today, it has 25 male teach­ers who work along­side 100 fe­male coun­ter­parts.

“We will def­i­nitely pick the male ap­pli­cant in the re­cruit­ment process if the only dif­fer­ence be­tween two ap­pli­cants is gen­der,” said Feng of their com­mit­ment to ad­dress­ing the short­age of male teach­ers.

Feng also said male teach­ers pro­vide a dif­fer­ent di­men­sion to the teach­ing ap­proach with their mas­culin­ity and think­ing pro­cesses, and that the dis­tinct teach­ing meth­ods em­ployed by the male and fe­male teach­ers help pro­vide chil­dren with a holis­tic learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“The teach­ing meth­ods used by male and fe­male teach­ers are a per­fect com­ple­ment as they help to counter the dis­ad­van­tages of each style,” said Feng.

Wang Ji­aming, a 34-year-old male teacher at the school, is a pro­po­nent of team-based learn­ing, and he has been busy help­ing his fe­male col­leagues with or­ga­niz­ing such ac­tiv­i­ties. He sim­i­larly said that it is im­por­tant to have a good mix of male and fe­male ed­u­ca­tors in­volved in a child’s ed­u­ca­tion.

“A fe­male teacher could be the car­ing mother fig­ure while the male teacher would be the brave, mas­cu­line fig­ure and this helps to cre­ate a har­mo­nious fam­ily at­mos­phere in the kinder­garten for the chil­dren,” said Wang.

Ac­cord­ing to Chen, male teach­ers like him and Wang adopt the ped­a­gogy of be­ing “play­mates” to the chil­dren in­stead of es­tab­lish­ing a con­ven­tional teacher and stu­dent re­la­tion­ship. He also noted that the male teach­ers of­ten en­cour­age a child to stand up on his own af­ter a fall, as com­pared to the women who would al­most im­me­di­ately of­fer a help­ing hand and com­fort­ing words.

“Us male teach­ers pre­fer to let the kids try new things and ob­tain phys­i­cal knowl­edge and abil­i­ties by tak­ing on fre­quent sport­ing ac­tiv­i­ties,” said Chen.

“I be­lieve that be­ing tough and hav­ing strong team­work spirit is essen­tial to a child’s devel­op­ment. This is why I also de­sign some fam­ily-friendly games to help more par­ents, es­pe­cially the fa­ther, play a more pro­nounced role in their chil­dren’s lives dur­ing their spare time,” said Chen.

PHOTOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Chen Yi­lang and a stu­dent per­form a kungfu pose at the China Wel­fare In­sti­tute Kinder­garten.

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