Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Glenn Denny, the Male Practitioner by Mike Prochaska
Glenn Denny writes the blog, The Male Practitioner, and works in early learning and child care in Scotland. He's been doing this job for over 20 years, despite the ever-changing landscape – and still loves it. Glenn is currently working with 3- to 5-year-old children, but has worked with babies and toddlers, too. Here's a little more about Glenn...
Q. How did you get into this field?
"I wasn't sure what I wanted to do when I left school. I knew I was good at looking after children as I did a lot of babysitting, so I tried work experience in a playgroup and it went from there."
Q. What's it like teaching in Scotland?
"In terms of early learning and child care, it's a constantly evolving area. The Scottish government has made a great deal of changes to the framework we use, to include up-to-date theory and practice, which is exciting."
Q. What are the advantages of being a man in Early Childhood Education?
"I don't know if there are advantages as such, you're there to do the same job as your female counterpart so I don't feel it brings you an advantage. In my experience the majority of parents are interested in you and what you can do. It's tricky being sort of in the 'spotlight,' but at the same time you know you can do an awesome job and want to do your best."
Q. Why is play important for children?
"Play is learning; it's how children figure things out. It's our role to provide the thoughtful provocations to scaffold that play to meaningful conclusions ... Children need the freedom to explore; this freedom can only come from the outdoors. Trees to climb, sticks to collect and mud pies to make are all important tools for learning."
Q. What's your favorite memory working with kids?
"Too many to name. The best thing is when a child comes up to you and gives a random cuddle though."
Q. Did you hear about the man who got fired for just being male? How do you feel about that?
"It baffles me, truly it does. We live in a society where people strive for equality and yet we are tearing down our children's first opportunity to experience gender equality."
Q. What's your favorite book to read to the classroom?
"So many to choose from. One of my new favorites is 'Oi Frog!' by Kes Gray and Jim Field."
Q. What are your favorite activities to do with your kids?
"Singing.I can't hold a note in a paper bag but it doesn't stop me singing."
Q. Anything inspiring to tell anyone thinking of going into this field?
"If you're not afraid of hard work but want to know that you are having a positive influence in the early years of the child, then this is for you."
Q. Are passionate about in this field?
"Absolutely! If I wasn't passionate about what I do then I don't think I'd still be doing it 20 years later. I am very much for outdoor learning. I got a place on a forest kindergarten course as a present for my 40th birthday."
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