I understood that "des" is usually an indefinite article used to indicate a not quantified amount bigger than one (1). So it can never be translated into "the" which is a definite/specific group or person. So "des enfants" can be "some children" or just "children". "Du" is the singular of "des", "du pain" is again "some bread" or just "bread".
I think "des" is an indefinite article and when used like that it has no translation to english, like when we learned before: "du riz" was just "rice" or "some rice". Here "des" works the same: "des homme" is "men" or "some men", just an indefinite article to make our lives that little bit harder :)
We must remember this...Duolingo is teaching us how French is spoken. Sentences and words are not structured the same way as in English. When one accepts the French way to say "children, women, and men" is said in this manner: "des enfants (prounounced like days zaunfaun),"des femmes (pronounced day fahm), and "des hommes" (pronounced days zohm), one will not be so put off while learning a new language, any new language. Just accept the fact another language is not going to follow the same format as your naive tongue and enjoy the learning process. One cannot learn about something else joyfully when constantly comparing instead of studying how it's done. This goes for languages, people, cultures, etc. Enjoy the Process, Enjoy Life!