<B>IASOM Newsletter Summer 1997 update</B>

This update contains incoming information since the May edition of the Newsletter (vol4no1):

- inquiries

- new members

- a paper by Tim Rohrmann on boys in kindergartens (English and German versions)

We wish all IASOM members a good summer!

The editor


Some people have asked for the 1996 number 2 issue of the Newsletter - if it exists. It does not. The next one is 1997:1.

New members

Marcelo Robaldo, sociologist, Santiago, Chile - tel. 562 225 73 57

Christine Griffin, psychologist, U. Birmingham, UK, tel. 121 414 4935

Tim Rohrmann: Boys in kindergardens

In the last years the interest in questions of development and socialisation of boys has increased in Germany. New ways of the work with boys, especially adolescents, are discussed in the fields of social work, education, training and psychology. In this situation we could realize a research project called „Manns-Bilder – Boys in kindergardens“. The project was funded by AGIP, an institution funding basic research in different fields, with the money coming from the government of the Land Niedersachsen, and situated at the Fachhochschule für Sozialwesen (social work) in Braunschweig, under the guidance of Prof. Peter Thoma. The word „Manns-Bilder“ is not translateable, as it means „pictures and/or images of men“, but is also a German expression for „a real man!“.

Two thoughts lead to the idea of a research project about boys in kindergardens:

_ the importance of the early childhood for further development,

_ the fact that German children spent a big deal of this important time in public institutions.

To bring back scientific results into the practice, one of the aims of the project was to develop training programs for the staff of kindergardens.

German kindergardens are public institutions, in which children aged 3-6 stay for 4 to 10 hours. Some kindergardens also take care for smaller or older children. Today the kindergarden is clearly not understood as a „pre-school“, but more as a place where children can develop themselves and learn to cooperate with others. The staff consists of members of different professions, mostly „Erzieherinnen“, which I will translate with „educators“ in this article. Around 99% of them are female.

One of the major problems of the development of boys (and girls, too!) is the lack of men in the raising of small children. Work with small children is a woman’s job, with low status and income. To change this, the attitudes about tasks of men and women in our society have to be changed. But the claim of bringing more men into kindergardens is a political claim, and won’t be realized in a few years. In everyday life the boys have to get along with women – and woman with boys. From this point of view it seemed to make sense to focus the research on the situation of boys and women.

We understand our project as a contribution to gender studies from men’s point of view. It was the first project about the theme in Germany, and there were only few reports and studies which could be used as a starting-point. In most kindergardens questions of gender have not been discussed very much. In spite of many years of feminism and social work with girls in other fields, educators in kindergardens - and as well many of the professionals who train and work with them - are used to think of „children“ rather than of „boys“ and „girls“. So our project could not aim at too specific results and is better described as a „pilot study“. In a period over two years (1.3.1994 - 31.1.96) we worked together with the staff of six kindergardens, their advisers and the holding institutions – the city of Braunschweig, the Protestant Church, and groups organized by parents (the various German institutions for the care-taking for children are a complex system, difficult to understand, and even more difficult to translate into english!).

The theoretical part of the project gave a broad overview over results of developmental psychology, sociology, gender and men’s studies etc. Here I could build upon my former book Junge, Junge - Mann, o Mann (The development to manhood). We documented the actual discussion in the social work field about work with boys, and tried to „translate“ some theories of men’s studies to the situation of boys in kindergardens, e.g. Gilmore and Connell.

The empirical research focused on two subjects:

_ the situation of boys in a social world dominated by woman

_ the everyday situation of educators and their view of the behavior of boys.

The project consisted of three parts, each of them approaching the theme from another viewpoint: the view of the researchers, the view of the educators, and the view of the boys. An „objective“ approach was intended by observations, partly with video, in evereryday situations (part I). Open interviews with the educators gave informations about their perceptions and interaction style (part II). Finally the boys were asked to make drawings (of men, or how they imagined themselves as grown-ups), which gave us some insight into the subjective views of the boys themselves (part III).

All parts of the project showed that a „typical“ behavior of boys and typical „themes“ of boys exist. First this means that boys are (or seem to be) always active and in motion, use traditional symbols of masculinity and are fond of fighting. This is most noticeable with the older boys (5-6 years old) and depends on the situation. On the other hand the behavior of boys shows much variety (and sometimes contradictions): „the“ boy or „the“ behavior of boys does not exist (…and neither does „the“ educator). It became apparent that environmental factors of the institutions play an important role for behavior that is sometimes thought to be „natural“ for boys.

Usually there are a lot of reasons which lead to „problem behavior“ of boys in kindergardens: on one side individual deficits and the family background, on the other side difficult personal and environmental conditions of the institutions. But it is obvious that boys’ and girls’ coping mechanisms in problem situations are different. Therefore one of the main results of the project is the hypothesis, that problem behavior of boys in kindergardens is a gender-typical reaction to difficult and disstressing life conditions and/or situations. This means that „typical“ and especially aggressive behavior of boys is not „natural“, but can be regarded as a „symptom“ of difficult socialisation processes, becoming apparent in institutional conditions which don’t provide alternatives.

From a methodological point of view, our study can’t fulfill scientific demands. Nevertheless it shows how important gender-related questions are – already in the kindergarden. The hypothesis of a „search for manhood“ can be used as a starting-point for explanations of boys’ behavior in kindergardens. In this life span we can watch the first steps to what later appears as typical or non-typical behavior of boys and men. Thus this liefetime is a fascinating subject for research as well as for practical work.

Workshops and training for educators

There was an unexpected huge public interest in the results of the project. After a few weeks the 300-pages-report was out of print. But we guess that not the empirical research, but questions of practical work are reason for the continuing interest. Training had been part of the project – a four-day-workshops was held for every holder, the participating educators coming from different kindergardens. But as the development of practical concepts was not part of the funded research, this was not included in the report. Since then I’ve worked free-lancing in the field, and finally we published our experiences in a book for education and training: Jungen im Kindergarten. Ein Handbuch zur geschlechtsbezogenen Pädagogik für Aus- und Fortbildung. The book contains a lot of theory (male development, socialisation process, situation of boys and educators, media, conflicts, etc.) as well as a variety of ideas and methods for practical work in education, advising and training of educators – and, last not least, the everyday situation in kindergardens. It is mainly made for people who do practical work, but the theory and main results of our study are included, with a short summary of the research project in the appendix.

Since a few years, educators working in German kindergardens are obliged to take part in some days of training (Fortbildung) every year. Gender-related issues have been quite popular in the last time, especially the question of „difficult boys“. Even bigger is the interest in questions of aggressive behavior, clearly a gender-related theme. But, as mentioned before, most people working in the elemtary field are often unaware of the gender aspects of children’s behavior.

Work with boys is a quite established subject in the field of social work – there are projects, conferences, workshops everywhere. But usually this is work of men with adolescent boys. Nothing the like exists in the question of the work of women with small boys. Those who have worked with educators in kindergardens about gender-related themes often don’t know each other, and there is no forum for discussion. There is a need for competent training, for the majority of female educators as well as for the small group of male colleagues. On the other hand, the bad financial situation makes it difficult to bring in new themes into the established system of holders, institutions and training of educators. It is especially difficult to organize trainings for the few men working for kindergardens. The importance of male educators is often emphasized – e.g., raising the number of male colleagues is one of the basic claims mentioned by the Network of the EU commission for the care-taking of children. But in reality, male educators are often isolated and don’t see much perspectives in their job.

In this situation January ‘97 we brought together a group of men with experience in work with men and boys for an informal workshop about „Boys in kindergardens“ in Kassel. In a personal and creative atmosphere, we discussed questions of male development, of boys in the institution kindergarden, and of working with women as a male trainer. Last not least, we talked about money, jobs and working together. We intend to bring forward the theme and have planned to meet again next January.

Handbuch zur geschlechtsbezogenen Pädagogik in Kindertagesstätten

Unser Handbuch richtet sich in erster Linie an Frauen und Männer, die in der Ausbildung, Fortbildung und Fachberatung von Erzieherinnen tätig sind. Es ist aber auch für Erzieherinnen und Erzieher sowie andere Fachleute interessant, die sich intensiver mit geschlechtsbezogenen Fragen befassen oder befassen wollen. Neben der Vermittlung von Wissen zu geschlechtsbezogener Entwicklung ist für uns die Beschäftigung mit dem eigenen Wahrnehmen und Erleben und der persönlichen Lebensgeschichte zentral.

Das Handbuch stellt eine nach dem Baukastenprinzip aufgebaute und somit vielfältig einsetzbare Materialsammlung zur geschlechtsbezogenen Entwicklung und Pädagogik bereit. Neben der umfassenden Darstellung von Forschungsergebnissen und theoretischen Erklärungsansätzen wird eine Vielzahl von Anregungen für die Praxis in Kindertagesstätten gegeben. 75 Praxisübungen unterstützen die Vermittlung und Bearbeitung der Themen im Rahmen von Aus- und Fortbildung. Anschließend an grundlegende Überlegungen zu geschlechtsbezogener Pädagogik im Kindergarten werden im Handbuch die folgenden vier Schritte dargestellt:

_ Bei sich selbst anfangen (Selbstreflexion und autobiographisches Arbeiten)

_ Mehr über Jungen wissen (Entwicklung und Sozialisation von Jungen)

_ Den Alltag bewußt gestalten (Spiel, Medien, Märchen, Konflikte…)

_ Neue Wege einschlagen (Ziele, Rahmenbedingungen, Projekte, Elternarbeit…).

Die Themen und Elemente eignen sich für:

_ verschiedene Arbeitsbereiche: Kindergarten, aber auch Krippe, Hort, offene Kinderarbeit, z.T. auch Grundschule und Heime; Institutionen der Fortbildung;

_ verschiedene Berufsgruppen: neben Erzieherinnen und Erziehern auch SozialarbeiterInnen, SozialpädagogInnen, LehrerInnen, PsychologInnen, TherapeutInnen und BeraterInnen im Bereich der psychosozialen Versorgung von Kindern und Jugendlichen;

_ verschiedene Veranstaltungsformen: Vorträge, Studientage, Fortbildungen, Arbeitsgruppen, Fachberatung usw.;

_ verschiedene Zielgruppen: reine Frauengruppen, geschlechtsgemischte Gruppen, reine Männergruppen;

_ verschiedene Themen: neben Jungen in Kindertagesstätten z.B. auch Themen wie Jungen und Mädchen, geschlechtsbezogene Erziehung, Umgang mit Konflikten und „Gewalt“, Medienpädagogik, Kindergarten als Lebensraum…

Wir beziehen uns zum einen auf die zwischenzeitlich umfangreichen Erfahrungen mit verschiedenen Formen berufsbezogener Fortbildung zu geschlechtsbezogenen Themen aus Literatur, Berichten von KollegInnen und unserer eigenen Arbeit. Zum anderen sind die im Rahmen des Forschungsprojekts „Manns-Bilder“ erarbeiteten theoretischen Grundlagen und die Auswertung von Beobachtungen und Befragungen Bestandteil des Handbuches. Die Ergebnisse des Projekts werden zudem gesondert im Anhang zusammenfassend dokumentiert.

Tim Rohrmann ž Peter Thoma (1997): Jungen in Kindertagesstätten. Ein Handbuch zur geschlechtsbezogenen Pädagogik für Aus- und Fortbildung.

Fachhochschule Braunschweig/Wolfenbüttel, Hochschulreihe Band 12.

1997, 312 Seiten, DM 25,–. ISBN 3-925884-12-2.

Bezug: Fachhochschule Braunschweig, Ludwig-Winter-Straße 2a,

D-38120 Braunschweig, Germany, fon (++49)531/2852-0, fax (++49)531/2852-100.