Friday Two Cents: Why I Do What I Do


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This past week I read through the paper, like I always do and I was surprised to find an article focused on male, Early Childhood Education (ECE) teachers entitled “Men stand out as daycare workers”.  Being a male ECE teacher I was intrigued and wanted to know what the article was about.  What I read did not surprise me but also shocked me.

The shocking issue was the amount of male ECE teachers there are out there. The figures in the article stated, in Ontario the College of Early Childhood Educators records show that there are 41,700 members with only 599 who are male.  That is only 1.4%, WOW!  I never imagined that it was that small.

I have been in the field as an ECE teacher for 20+ years and I have met many male teachers.  I have always known that I was part of a small minority in this field but I did not know how small.

The other significant issue was the mixed message male teachers get from parents and staff for their chosen career.  This bit of information I was not surprised with.

On one hand many think it is fantastic there is a male teacher working with the children.  The benefits are apparent when you see the children gravitate to him on many different levels.  Then there is the other hand that feels apprehension or questions why there is a man with children.  All they think about is sexual misconduct, abuse or about his sexuality.

In my own experience I have seen all of these.  There are many parents and teachers who say it is great to have a male but then they always look at me with suspicion if the child hugs me.  One incident, looking back, was with a parent who was beyond surprised when she found out that I was not a homosexual.  Oh and get this, after she asked me and I told I was not, I asked her, “What made you think I was?”  Her response was, “Well you are so smart, well dressed and you work with kids.”  When I heard this I smiled and side nothing but I was thinking, “OH MY GOD.  Are people really this narrow-minded?”  Unfortunately, yes some are.

I expected this reaction when I first started 20 years ago, however the cold reality is that I have to endure this type of behavior every year.  At the beginning of the school year there are always a few parents or new staff who think like this.  And to be quite honest, I am sick of it.  How long must I endure the swings and arrows of people’s narrow mindedness?  The sad realization is I will always have to endure it.

Perhaps if there were more men in the ECE field it would be different.  However, many debate why there isn’t that many.  Some argue that looking after children is not “man’s work” and only women look after children.

My colleague and I have had many debates about this subject matter and she sites that our society undervalues the care of children because society sees child care as a mother’s natural responsibility.  That she must stay home and look after the children and therefore, why value something that should come natural to a woman.  Why should a man enter a field that is natural for a woman and is undervalued by many in society.

Sadly she might be right. We think we have progressed in our thinking about how we treat others in our society, but then there are incidents that take us back to the 19th century or more recently the 1950s.

I love working with children and there are times when I ask myself why continue to do it?  All you get is people looking at you with suspicion, you constantly have to be aware of your interaction with them and so on.

Then I think about when I teach the children something new and their eyes light up. Or when you know you have made a positive contribution in their life.  I will leave you with a story about why I love teaching.

I teach a co-ed baseball league at the school I am in and there was a girl who wanted to play but not bat because she was afraid of embarrassing herself.  She would cry whenever it was her turn at bat.  But I said to her, if she did not want to bat that was OK.

I did ask the captain and her teammates to help her with batting and during practice I would help her too.  She eventually did bat.  She struck-out a few times but she got on base too and I would always encourage her because she tried and that was all I asked of her.

Her team made it to the finals and during the game she got two big hits and brought in two runs.  She helped her team win the championship game.  After the game I give out the Most Valuable Player Award for a boy and girl.  The MVP is someone who shows teamwork, sportsmanship and has improved over the season.  I gave it to her because I thought that she showed all these traits.  Well when she won, her smile was from ear to ear and I told her that I was proud of her for all her efforts and that she really earned this award.

After the game her mother came up to me and thanked me for the award but she told me what her daughter said.  She said, “Mom, this has been the best day of my life.”  Well when her mother told me this, all the struggles and the hardships of the past year were wiped away.

That’s the reason why I work with children.  If I can touch the life of a child and make their life that much better, then all the trials and tribulations are worth it.

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3 Responses to Friday Two Cents: Why I Do What I Do

  1. mamacormier says:

    Well said, Paul.

  2. Good for you! It’s refreshing to see men choose caring professions and I agree that it can make a huge difference in children’s lives when the genders are more balanced in teaching.

    • paulgauchi says:

      Thanks. It is trying at times but I do enjoy working with the kids.

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