Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Preschool Teacher Blake Stewart by Mike Prochaska
This week I interviewed Blake Stewart, a fellow male who works in early childhood education in Australia. I’m very thankful that Blake took the time to answer a few of my questions, as I believe it is important to shine a light on men who work in this field to lead the way for other men to follow in their footsteps.
Q. How did you get into this field?
“After leaving high school determined to study primary school teaching, I didn’t have a good enough grade to get into university. Instead, I enrolled in a TAFE NSW. [I got a] Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care, and then switched back to university with credit towards a primary school teaching degree. Within weeks of studying early childhood education at TAFE NSW in the Illawarra, I had suddenly found my calling. I was hooked. I just found learning about early childhood care phenomenal; I realized that I had a passion for it. Two weeks into my degree and I was completely committed to it.”
Q. What are the advantages of being a male teacher?
“I can only talk about the advantages from my personal perspective. I believe I can’t speak on behalf of all male teachers, as we all have different teaching philosophies. I believe that I bring a sense of risk taking and rough-and-tumble play into the indoor and outdoor classroom. I feel that I present myself to children as a nurturer, as well as a teacher and provider. This allows children to change their perspective on males who are already in their lives. I believe children value both male and female teachers. I believe that all teachers bring a different perspective and teaching philosophy into the classroom."
Q. What are the disadvantages of being a male teacher?
“Like I said in previous question, I can only speak on behalf of myself and my own experiences in early childhood education. I believe I have to develop stronger professional boundaries with staff, families and children. Female teachers can easily become nurturers and emotional support in a holistic way for the entire family and community. Whereas I believe I need to set in place a professional boundary in between myself and the children/family.”
“I also believe I have to be transparent and above reproach in all that I do within the early childhood service AND outside of the service (including social media). Ensuring I keep accountable to my director and team members all the time. To continue to balance this professional boundary, as well as being relational and a nurturing teacher can be very exhausting, and I believe I will never get the perfect balance.”
I want to thank Blake for taking time out of his busy day to answer my questions.