Wednesday, August 1, 2012

We're Teachers Too!

Every time I hear a debate about school teachers it gets my back up. It doesn't matter if it's concerning the call for more men in our schools, particularly the primary/elementary level (although this is a specific bugbear given the actual numbers of males teaching in schools compared to those in prior-to-school settings). Or the innovations occurring within classrooms in regard to how learning is taking place, often ideas and initiatives taken from or inspired by early years practitioners. Or even the scrutiny over pay, class sizes, teacher effectiveness or any other number of so called measurables.
Despite the fact that there has been quite a bit of focus on early childhood education and care within Australia recently resulting in widespread changes, I still feel there is a clear dichotomy when education issues arise. Namely the separation of formal schooling and early years settings.
Whenever I hear a discussion about how difficult school teachers have it, which for the most part I agree they do, a voice inside me begins screaming, "Well we have it just as tough, if not tougher!" And while there has been scrutiny of late of teachers in school, it's been more about how to weed out the bad ones. That's an issue everywhere in society, not just in education. Although it has far reaching consequences when so called 'bad' teachers are present throughout our systems.

Now I'm not bagging school teachers here. I am quite close with a number of them. it's the focus that teachers with school systems seem to get from the media and society in general while those of us dedicated to the education and development of younger children are often forgotten about, or worse still, disregarded.

Now there will always be things to 'fix' in any education system, but I truly believe an integrated approach that sees all educational professionals as belonging to the same community rather than entities separated by the buildings in which they work.

Even during my time at university I heard those studying primary and secondary teaching that us early childhood students had it easy and will continue to to do so out in the real world. I invite any teacher, no matter what their qualifications, and other members of society, particularly the media, to spend some time in an early childhood educational environment. To see them take on the daily role of an early years educator and let's see if they still think we have it easy or if they will be so quick to overlook us in the future.

I fear I will be waiting a long time and even if I have those willing to take me up on my offer, I doubt the status quo will change very much. I look forward to be proven wrong.

By the way, that wasn't an open invitation for everyone to come rushing to my service. I would welcome your interest and be pleased to show off what I actually do all day, but I don't think those in charge would be very appreciative of a bunch of strangers turning up. What you could do is contact your local service and inquire about volunteering your time for a day. Volunteers are usually most welcome by most centres most of the time.


  1. This is always going to be an issue & I think it's sad that teaching seems to be the one job were 'we' attack each other with the your job is easier than my job refrain. i have given up getting annoyed by other teachers asking me if I am a qualified teacher because I teach preschool or if I am 'fit to' teach older children. Luckily in the UK all teachers are paid equally no matter the age group. Good issue to bring up Greg.

    1. It's not so much the individuals asking those questions that bother me Kierna, although they do. It's the seemingly lack of recognition we get from the media & society unless early childhood itself is actually being discussed. The word teacher simply drums up images of those in front of 25-30 kids in a formal classroom.

  2. I don't know if our status of 'invisible' is a problem really. The school system is a lost cause really - wrong way to learn about things that matter little basically. Once you leave ECEC, it's not until you get to post grad that you are in control of your learning once again!

    good points Greg, but that spotlight can burn when it wants to :)