Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Ryan Fahey, US Play Ambassador Coordinator by Mike Prochaska
Ryan Fahey is a PE teacher in Abu Dhabi and lead U.S. play ambassador coordinator for the US Play Coalition. He opened up about the importance of play and the role of males in Early Childhood Education.
Q. How did you get into this field?
“In 2013, I attended the US Play Coalition Conference in Clemson, S.C. While there, I realized that I was among family and friends who all share the common philosophy of the value of play. From this conference experience, I chose to plant my feet in the field of play and education wellness. I am forever grateful for that opportunity.”
Q. What do you see as the advantages of having male teachers?
“Currently, I am teaching Physical Education in Abu Dhabi. In the UAE, it is expected that male teachers will teach male students in physical education. The advantages of this in the Arab world is critical to student success and learning. Students respond differently to male and female teachers and a balance of both is very important for learning and for their social development.”
Q. What age group do you work with?
“I work with children and youth ages 6 to 16.”
Q. What is your favorite memory working with kids?
“I remember working as an activities director at a children’s camp a few years back. I remember making an amazing race relay for the teams of youth to complete. Seeing youth portage canoes, problem solve, swim and critically think about how to win the race was a very cool experience for me. The reward was in the process of seeing them come together, grow and learn together.”
Q. Anything else you want to tell us about working with young children?
“Play is an important part of childhood development and practitioners, parents and governments must grow to understand this for the health and well-being of all children.”
Q. What’s your favorite book?
“My favorite book is the one that I am writing. It is coming out this year and ideal for youth and adults. I have used concepts from my book in my Physical Education classrooms to help support literacy in the PE environment.”
Q. Why is play important for children?
“There is a ton of research in this area, but ultimately it is about the health and learning of all students as they development. Great organizations like the US Play Coalition are critical for sharing the importance of this fact.”
Q. Anything inspiring to tell anyone thinking of going into this field?
“Play is in the eye of the doer. Sometimes we need to get out of the way to allow play to be a rich learning experience. If you enter into the Education/Play field, approach it with an open mind and a willingness to learn.