Recently, I heard a saying that really resonated with me: When you do what you love, it's never work. This could not be truer for me when I think about my decision to make Early Childhood Education my career. That's right, a career. It's not just a job that provides me money to pursue other passions, but rather it's a livelihood that keeps me inspired and yearning for growth as a human being. Humans are social creatures, where relationships are at the core of our well-being, and in these relationships reciprocity emerges. In all facets of all relationships there are levels of Teaching and Learning.
When I am with the toddlers I work with, I embrace the children as my teachers and guides because they help me learn and grow as a teacher and a person. They ground me in what's important in life: to always approach situations with a sense of wonderment, to be unafraid of taking risks mentally, socially, emotionally, and physically. We humans tend to start off bold and courageous in the world around us, but somewhere down the line we lose that; but if we are lucky enough to have people in our lives to keep us inspired and hungry for growth and knowledge, then we might not lose those elements that make the human spirit so great. This is the person I want to be, not only for the children and families in my care, but for everyone I meet in this wonderful life.
As I grow as an educator (and person), I see the niche I am carving out for myself and, as it becomes clearer and clearer, I also begin to see the impact and responsibility that comes with it. Whether we like it or not, men in early care and education are tasked with an unspoken task to be champions of social and gender equality. By simply working with young children, we are performing a task of advocacy that directly challenges Western ideas on gender roles, masculinity/femininity, and misconceptions about men in early care and education. This is a task, or mission if you will, that I am more than willing to champion by any means necessary. Often times this happens in the classroom where I am fortunate enough to hear the children's theories and questions about the world around them.
Opportunities like this implore me to give children an unbiased experience where their interactions, theories, and questions are met with support, guidance, and compassion. This also happens in my everyday life when someone new I meet asks what I do for a living. I often have to batten down the hatches of frustration to discuss why it's important for gender balance in the classrooms, and how it isn't an "adorable" thing, and how it is actually unfortunate that we don't see more men working with children — young or old. And while it feels like a daunting task that is being fought uphill, I find myself with like-minded spirits who support and invigorate me, keeping my fire bright and hot.
The saying that laughter is contagious could also be said for passion. Passion is contagious, and I hope that with every opportunity I am provided with to share my passion, no matter how small or big, and that it spreads like wildfire and instills hope and awareness about the importance of Early Childhood Education for children, adults, and society.