Thursday, June 30, 2011

On Being a Dad and a Teacher - Part 4

So far I've been telling my story in a linear fashion. Moving along a timeline so to speak. At this point however, I am going to break that sequence so that I may relate some of the positive and negative experiences I've had along the way. As a father I have generally only had positive feedback from others when they have seen me engaging with my children, whether it be at the park, shopping, sport, playgroup, preschool, school or wherever. I digress for a moment to share something I omitted before. That I also often took my children to playgroup. That was my first taste of an organised social environment for my children. What I will say about that is that while I was often the only dad there, there were other dads that came from time to time. Sadly, it was almost always us dads who were out playing with the children, or down on the floor with them inside. With only a couple of exceptions the mothers almost always remained inside for the majority of their time their apparently content to drink coffee & socialise. That's not to say the mothers did nothing. Many of them worked hard to prepare the area inside & out each day, often made treats for the children and were the ones actively seeking support for the service. This is not an opinionated statement, rather a factual recount.

Back on task now. As I said, I have usually received positive feedback from those around me. The only negative vibe I have received as a father was when I volunteered at the children's preschool. I have already told this story in Part 2 so I won't retell it here. However, I have experienced a few more negative moments in my teaching capacity. Some secretively or even subconsciously, while others more openly. My worst experience came at the hands of a Director during my internship, which I withdrew from because of what transpired. I won't go into details, but she was covert to begin with. Undermining my efforts and belittling my achievements. When I finally informed her that I would be withdrawing she openly told me (in private) that it was the first decent thing she had witnessed me do as men don't belong in childcare. I eventually completed my internship the following year with a Director with the completely opposite outlook & hence had a fabulous experience, regaining the confidence & self worth that had been sapped from me in the other setting. However, even in that positive environment I found out afterwards there was one snake in the grass. A coworker who apparently made some accusations against me & even fabricated evidence to back up her story. her lies were discovered easily enough, but I was left unaware until after I completed my 10 weeks. I am grateful for that as I am unsure how I would have dealt with that sort of information. There have been other minor incidents, but insignificant compared to these two.

I must say, it is disturbing that almost every negative comment or experience has involved a so called early childhood professional. Apart from the incident at my children's preschool I have only had encouraging feedback from parents & families. I even had one family follow me over 100 km when I moved from one centre to another because they couldn't imagine anyone else teaching their preschooler. While the negative comments & experiences took their toll, it's all the wonderful things I hear almost every day that stay with me. I have made some enduring friendships because families keep in touch after their child has left my care. That is what makes this job worthwhile, along with the warm greetings I get each morning from the children as I walk in the room. I have been hurt, but my heart is too full of the love of children to be broken down by some sad individuals.



  1. Woah ... I'm embarrassed and ashamed to think women treated you that way Greg when all I hear from so many women is ... WHERE ARE THE MEN IN EARLY CHILDHOOD?! ... I hope they were the exception and not the rule.
    Donna :( :(

  2. No Need for you to be ashamed or embarrased Donna. They are most definitely in the minority, but the sad truth is they are still out there. There are even men who look upon males working with children with suspicion. Although I have perceived 'that look' and I've only ever had something said to me once & that was when I first began studying. A guy I was playing golf with made the quip, "You like them young then?" It was said in jest & I let it slide. The me now might have acted very differently. Over 99% of people are supportive & express their delight in seeing a male working in early childhood.
    By remaining at the coalface I hope to be as positive an example of how importantly children require effective caring & nurturing adults in their lives regardless of their gender.
    Wow, my response is almost as long as my post.
    Greg ;) *thumbs up*