The Most Important Work

Being an early childhood professional has got to be one of the most demanding career choices one can make. I commend all the professionals in this field, regardless of gender, for helping to make our young children the proudest, smartest and most dignified future leaders.

That said, I am a guy (and apparently from Mars, which sometimes I feel like going back to). When I tell people I work in the field of early childhood, sometimes I think they’re wondering, is he lost? Others might say I chose a path of least resistance, an easy job. Yeah, right. One that pays too little and makes me pull what little is left of my hair out!

Early childhood education is anything but easy. In an ever changing world, early childhood education presents itself as one the most dynamic career choices one could make. Did I know this going into it? As my son says, “Probably… just a little,” his voice rising on the supposition and dead flat on the definitive, face scrunched up like he’s really thinking about it. But I really had no idea just how demanding my career choice would be.

For those who don’t think I’m lost or looking for an easy job, I am treading bold waters. But I like to think I am getting back to my roots, in more ways than one.

Men have always been teachers. We’ve come a long way from accepting a chicken as payment for endowing young hearts and minds with knowledge and wisdom (though I will still gladly receive a chicken as payment), and a lot has changed. Few men enter the field of early care and education, undoubtedly because recent history has taught us not to. Our numbers have seized to just a trickle, though in the past few years I have begun to see those numbers rise. And why shouldn’t they? For some years now we have talked about creating a more exacting representation of the world around us in the early childhood classroom. We have talked about diversity and the need to reflect that in our environments. We discuss the importance in the development of a young child’s self-efficacy and self-esteem and the correlating importance of having gender specific role models. So, where are you, men? Don’t you see this is THE important work to do?