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Rare male teachers are popular in Chinese kindergartens

(People's Daily Online)    14:43, July 19, 2019

(Photo/Xinhua)

Male teachers are growing in popularity throughout China's kindergartens. While rare to find, the role of the male teacher in preschool education has great importance, as many families in China do not have a constant male influence, China Youth Daily reported Thursday.

The "giant pandas"

Male teachers accounted for less than 3 percent of kindergarten teachers in China in 2017, according to statistics from China's Ministry of Education. Figures indicated that there were about 2.43 million professional kindergarten teachers in China in 2017, of which nearly 2.38 million were women.

As female teachers have long dominated the industry, male kindergarten teachers often surprise new parents.

Jiang Wei, a post-90s kindergarten teacher in Fenkou Town, Chun'an County of Hangzhou City, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, disclosed that he studied preschool education in Hangzhou Polytechnic. He revealed that there were 47 students in his class, but only three were male. Because of their scarcity, these three male students received the nicknames Giant Panda 1, 2 and 3.

Zheng Wencong was one of the three "giant pandas" in Jiang Wei's class. He was hired by a kindergarten in Jiande City of Zhejiang Province as soon as he graduated. He said he received another offer in Hangzhou while interning in his sophomore year.

He said that when he first joined the kindergarten team, many of the parents were curious and some were even skeptical as to whether he would be a good teacher.

Wu Jingkun, a male kindergarten teacher in Laixi City, east China's Shandong Province, said when he first became a teacher, children didn't call him "teacher", instead preferring to call him "uncle". "They asked me who I was and why I was there, because they had never seen a male teacher before," said Wu.

All-rounder

"At first, I was too embarrassed to tell my friends that I was a kindergarten teacher," said Huang Longyan from Jinzhou Town, Ningxiang City of central China's Hunan Province. He noted that he now enjoys his job and has become a versatile member of the kindergarten team.

Huang cooks and make toys for the children, and enjoys teaching them songs and dances. He even invented a bamboo dance to teach his students.

"Parents would often ask me how their children were doing in school, and I thought it was not enough to just simply answer that they were fine," said Huang. He decided to record the everyday performance of each child in a notebook to give to their parents.

A kindergarten teacher should be able to sing, dance, play instruments, draw pictures, and teach, said Zheng Yongjiang, a male kindergarten teacher in Jiande City.

"We want to create a cozy space for children, so we often make things on our own as items we order online often aren't up to standard," said Zheng. He said that besides knowledge in language, society, science, health and arts, they also need to learn woodworking, chopping firewood, and painting.

Zheng Wencong noted that since the kindergarten had male teachers, fathers came to the kindergarten more often, saying that they wanted to talk about parenting. Some parents said they were lucky to have a male teacher, as it helped build their child's confidence.

Popular

Male teachers are popular, said Cai Fei, principal of Xuzhou Kindergarten Teachers College, noting that the demand for male teachers exceeds supply every year.

Male kindergarten teachers don't have trouble finding work, and many have already been snatched up before graduation. Others get the job on their first try, and some have even been poached by other kindergartens.

The preschool period is a critical stage for personality formation, and having active male role models for young boys is particularly helpful, said Cai.

As the father is often absent in society today, male teachers can play some of these male roles, which is great for the development of the child's personality, Cai added. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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