Bringing Up the Babies: Men Educators in the Municipal Nursery Schools of an Italian Town

Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


In this chapter the urban dimension of education is explored through a research among the men educators working in the municipal nursery schools (caring and educational institutions for children from 6 months and 3 years of age) of Hilltown (Italy). The research project was carried out between 2014 and 2015, and dealt with the notion of diversity by focusing on the issue of gender and how it is understood and practically interpreted by men in a traditionally “feminized” context such as the nursery school. The findings from the narratives of six men educators are here presented and discussed against the history of the institution and the debate concerning the intertwining of care and education, as well as the formation and role of care workers. The narratives highlight how each educator constructed a recognizable professional identity by acquiring knowledge and practice through a form of “situated learning” that brought them from apprenticeship to effective educational agency. Furthermore, the narratives emphasize the men’s valorization of personal choices, memories and social experiences they refer to when creatively attending to the children’s needs and promoting their learning and independence.


Nursery school men educators Gender segregation/inequality Nursery school as “public service” Narrative language 


  1. Ambrosini, G. (2004). La costituzione spiegata a mia figlia. Torino: Einaudi [The constitution explained to my daughter].Google Scholar
  2. Askland, L. (2012). Promozione della presenza maschile in Norvegia [Promotion of the male presence in Norway]. In Bambini in Europa [Children in Europe], XII, n. 23, (pp. 12–13).Google Scholar
  3. Bondioli, A., & Mantovani, S. (Eds.). (1987). Manuale critico dell’Asilo Nido. Milano: FrancoAngeli [Critical handbook of the nursery school].Google Scholar
  4. Burgess, A. (2012). Superare gli stereotipi di genere nelle esperienze della prima infanzia [Overcoming gender stereotypes in early childhood experiences]. In Bambini in Europa [Children in Europe], XII, n. 23, (pp. 4–5).Google Scholar
  5. Cameron, C., & Moss, P. (Eds.). (2011). Social pedagogy and working with children and young people. Where care and education meet. London: Jessica Kinsgley Publishers.Google Scholar
  6. Catarsi, E. (2004a). La nascita dell’asilo nido. In E. Catarsi, & A. Fortunati (Eds.), Educare al nido. Metodi di lavoro nei servizi per l’infanzia (pp. 19–31). Roma: Carocci. [The origin of the nursery school. In Educating at the nursery school. Working methods in the child care].Google Scholar
  7. Catarsi, E. (2004b). Asili nido e nuovi servizi per l’infanzia: dati, tendenze, prospettive. In E. Catarsi, & A. Fortunati (Eds.), Educare al nido. Metodi di lavoro nei servizi per l’infanzia, (pp. 33–46). Roma: Carocci. [Nursery schools and new child care: data, trends, perspectives. In Educating at the nursery school. Working methods in the child care].Google Scholar
  8. Catarsi, E. (2008). Nidi e servizi per l’infanzia. In Rassegna bibliografica. Infanzia e adolescenza, n. 1, (pp. 1–34). Firenze: Istituto degli Innocenti. [Nursery schools and child care. In Bibliographic review. Childhood and adolescence].Google Scholar
  9. Catarsi, E. (Ed.). (2010). Coordinamento pedagogico e servizi per l’infanzia. Azzano San Paolo: Junior. [Educational coordination and child care].Google Scholar
  10. Catarsi, E., & Fortunati, A. (2004). Educare al nido. Metodi di lavoro nei servizi per l’infanzia. Roma: Carocci. [Educating at the nursery school. Working methods in the child care].Google Scholar
  11. Cocever, E. (2014). La formazione delle educatrici che lavorano nei nidi. Infanzia (3), 175–177. [The formation of educators who work in nursery schools. In Infanzia].Google Scholar
  12. Council of Europe. (2014). Signposts – Policy and practice for teaching about religions and non religious world views in intercultrual education. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.Google Scholar
  13. Devoto, G. (1968). Avviamento alla etimologia italiana. Dizionario etimologico. Firenze: Felice Le Monnier [Introduction to Italian etymology].Google Scholar
  14. Ferreri, M. (1979). Chiedo asilo. Italy: Gaumont. [Seeking asylum].Google Scholar
  15. Fortunati, A. (2004). L’immagine del bambino e le sue implicazioni in educazione. In E. Catarsi, & A. Fortunati (Eds.), Educare al nido. Metodi di lavoro nei servizi per l’infanzia (pp. 47–58). Roma: Carocci. [The image of the child and its implications in education].Google Scholar
  16. Frabboni, F. (1985). Il pianeta nido. Per una pedagogia e un curricolo del nido. Firenze: La Nuova Italia [The nursery school planet. For a nursery school education and curriculum].Google Scholar
  17. Gallerani, M., Buzzi, P., & Massarenti, E. (2014). L’educazione ai generi. Riflessioni a partire da un corso di formazione. In Bambini, XXX, N. 2, (pp. 18–21). [Gender education. Reflexions starting from a training course. In Children].Google Scholar
  18. Galloni, F., & Ricucci, R. (2010). Crescere in Italia. Milano: Edizioni Unicopli. [Growing up in Italy].Google Scholar
  19. Gamberi, Di Maio, & Selmi. (2003). Educare al genere. Roma: Carocci. [Gender education].Google Scholar
  20. Ghighi, R. (2009a). Introduzione. Le differenze di genere nell’infanzia. In Infanzia, 5, (pp. 203–204). [Introduction. Gender differences in childhood. In Childhood].Google Scholar
  21. Ghighi, R. (2009b). Le bambine ancora da una parte? Prospettive e ricerche contemporanee sul genere e l’infanzia. In Infanzia, 5, (pp. 325–330). [Are girls still apart? Contemporary perspectives and research on gender and childhood. In Childhood].Google Scholar
  22. Gobbo, F. (2000). Pedagogia interculturale: Il progetto educativo nelle società complesse. Roma: Carocci. [Intercultural education: The educational project in complex societies].Google Scholar
  23. Gobbo, F. (2004). Cultural intersections: The life story of a Roma cultural mediator. European Educational Research Journal, 3(3), 626–641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gobbo, F. (2007). Between the road and the town: An ethnographic study of the education of traveling attractionists. In W. T. Pink & G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International handbook of urban education (pp. 481–503). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gobbo, F. (2010). Fare apprendimento cooperativo a scuola: Una storia di vita professionale. In F.Gobbo (Ed.), Il Cooperative Learning nelle società multiculturali. Una prospettiva critica (pp. 39–52). Milano: Edizioni Unicopli. [Cooperative Learning at school: a professional life story. In Cooperative Learning in multicultural societies. A critical perspective].Google Scholar
  26. Gobbo, F. (2012). Anthropology of education in Italy. In K. M. Anderson-Levitt (Ed.), Anthropologies of education: A global guide to ethnographic studies of learning and schooling (pp. 151–165). New York: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  27. Gobbo, F. (2014). ‘Send in the clowns!’, or the imagination at work: The narratives of three pediatric ward clowns. Studia Paedagogica, 19(4), 101–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gobbo, F. (2015). People “of passage”: An intercultural educator’s interpretation of diversity and cultural identity in Italy. In P. Smeyers, D. Bridges, N. C. Burbules, & M. Griffiths (Eds.), International handbook of interpretation in educational research (pp. 505–528). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  29. Gobbo, F. (2016). Nourishing learning, nurturing culture, cultivating justice. In G. W. Noblit & W. T. Pink (Eds.), Education, equity, economy: Crafting a new intersection (pp. 25–50). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  30. Gobbo, F. (2017, forthcoming). Educational justice and occupational mobility: The role of civic commitment and of imagination. In Urban education.Google Scholar
  31. Gobbo, F., & Ricucci, R. (2010). ‘Classroom segregation? No, thanks’. Reflectionsfrom the Italian case. In G. Walraven, D. Peters, E. Denessen, & J. Bakker (Eds.), International perspectives on countering school segregation (pp. 211–226). Antewerpen/Apeldoorn: Garant.Google Scholar
  32. Gobbo, F., Ricucci, R., & Galloni, F. (2009). Strategies for supporting schools and teachers in order to foster social inclusion. Final Report & Annexes. Retrieved from
  33. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning. Legitimate peripheral participation. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Malavasi, L. (2010). Fare educazione al maschile. In Bambini, XXVI, n. 3, (pp. 11–14). [A male perspective on educational work. In Children].Google Scholar
  35. Mantovani, S. (Ed.). (1976). Asili-nido: psicologia e pedagogia. Milano: FrancoAngeli. [Nursery schools: Psychology and education].Google Scholar
  36. Mantovani, S., & Calidoni, P. (Eds.). (2008). Accogliere per educare. Lavis: Erickson. [Welcoming and educating].Google Scholar
  37. Mantovani, S., & Musatti, T. (Eds.). (1983). Adulti e bambini: Educare e comunicare. Bergamo: Juvenilia. [Adults and children: Education and communication].Google Scholar
  38. Mantovani, S., Saitta Restuccia, L., & Bove, C. (2003). Attaccamento e inserimento. Stili e storie delle relazioni al nido. Milano: FrancoAngeli. [Attachment and insertion. Styles and stories of nursery schools relations].Google Scholar
  39. Moss, P. (2004). Chi si occupa dei bambini (e dei cittadini)?. In Bambini, XX, n. 9, (pp. 8–9). [Who takes care of children (and citizens)? In Children].Google Scholar
  40. Ndjapou, F. (2009). Uomini nei servizi della prima infanzia, in Bambini, XXV, n. 8, (pp. 10–15). [Men in early child care. In Children].Google Scholar
  41. Noblit, G. W., & Pink, W. T. (2007). Preface. In W. T. Pink & G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International handbook of urban education (pp. xi–xiv). Dordercht: Springer.Google Scholar
  42. Onions, C. T. (Ed.). (1966). The Oxford dictionary of English etymology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Peeters, J. (2005). I maschi nei servizi per l’infanzia. In Bambini, XXI, n. 2, (pp. 24–29). [Males in child care. In Children].Google Scholar
  44. Peeters, J. (2007). Including men in early childhood education: Insights from the European experience. NZ Research in Early Childhood Education, 10, 1–13.Google Scholar
  45. Peeters, J. (2012). Uomini ‘prudenti’ nei servizi per l’infanzia. In Bambini in Europa, XII, n. 23, (pp. 16–17). [‘Cautious’ men in child care. In Children in Europe].Google Scholar
  46. Peeters, J., Rohrmann, T., & Emilsen, K. (2015). Gender balance in ECEC: Why is there so little progress?. In European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 23(3), pp. 1–13. doi: 10.1080/1350293X.2015.1043805.
  47. Ragazzini, N. (2011). Uomini e lavoro di cura al nido. In quaderno del centro di documentazione gift - genitorialità e infanzia, famiglie e territorio (pp. 85–95). Ferrara: Comune di Ferrara. [Men and care work in the nursery school. In Documentation Center notebook gift – Parenthood and childhood, families and territory].Google Scholar
  48. Rohrmann, T. (2012). Gli uomini nei servizi educativi in Germania. In Bambini in Europa, XII, n. 23, (pp. 10–11). [Men in educational services in Germany. In Children in Europe].Google Scholar
  49. Rossi, E. (2009). La socializzazione e l’educazione di genere nella prima infanzia. Infanzia, 5, 337–341. [Socialization and gender education in early childhood. In Childhood].Google Scholar
  50. Rubio, M. N. (2012). Il maschile nell’educazione e nella cura della prima infanzia. In Bambini in Europa, XII, n. 23, (pp. 2–3). [Masculinity in early child education and care. In Children in Europe].Google Scholar
  51. Scheffler, I. (1985). Of human potential: An essay in the philosophy of education. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  52. Scheffler, I. (1991). Four languages of education. In In praise of the cognitive emotions (pp. 118–125). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  53. Trufarelli, E. (2013). Rappresentazioni dell’educazione di genere in famiglia e a scuola. Il velo che cela le differenze. Infanzia, 6, 340–345. [Representations of gender education in family and at school. The veil hiding differences. In Childhood].Google Scholar
  54. Van Laere, K., Peeters, J., & Vandenbroeck, M. (2012). The education and care divide: The role of the early childhood workforce in 15 European countries. European Journal of Education, 47(2), 528–541.Google Scholar
  55. Van Laere, K., Vandenbroeck, M., Roets, G., & Peeters, J. (2014). Challenging the feminisation of the workforce: Rethinking the mind-body dualism in early childhood education and care. Gender and Education, 26(3), 232–245.Google Scholar
  56. Vandenbroeck, M., & Peeters, J. (2008). Gender and professionalism: A critical analysis of overt and covert curricula. Early Child Development and Care, 178(7&8), 703–715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Vandenbroeck, M., & Peeters, J. (2014). Challenging the feminisation of the workforce: Rethinking the mind-body dualism in Early Childhood Education and Care. Gender and Education, 26(3), [Special Issue on Gender, Teaching, Care], 232–245.Google Scholar
  58. Zaninelli, F. L. (2010). Pedagogia e infanzia. Questioni educative nei servizi. Milano: FrancoAngeli. [Education and childhood. Educational issues in services].Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Former Professor at the University of TurinTurinItaly

Personalised recommendations