Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Randall Ramoutar, Teacher, Storyteller & Martial Arts Pro by Mike Prochaska
Randall Ramoutar is a daycare teacher, storyteller, martial arts teacher and a strong believer in the power of play. He lives in Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. I loved his honesty! He just came out and said it how he sees it!
Q. Can tell us about being into martial arts?
"I am martial artist to the core. Over 10 years officially. Been practicing punching and kicking since I was in the womb though. I am actually the leader of Meifu Shinkage Ryu in Manitobar right now. We practice a modern Japanese martial art involving nail throwing. Very different from my primary martial art, Bujinkan Budo."
Q. Do you teach martial arts to children?
"Just in my daycare program. Martial arts concepts like self restraint, self reflection, etc. As for actual techniques, ukemi (rolling) and simple take downs."
Q. So does that mean you allow children to roughhouse in your classroom?
"Roughhousing should totally be allowed, in the right context. Supervised, structured and safe."
Q. What do you tell parents who don’t believe it safe to roughhouse at school?
"Developmentally appropriate practice is the number one litmus test for all of my activities. How can this activity be scaled for each child regardless of age. Rough and tumble (RnT) play is a huge benefit for growth and development. Through RnT they get to explore their physical as well as cognitive and socioemotional domains. Their physical domain is challenged by whoever they are playing with. They learn limits of self and what other feel. Thus connecting the socio-emotional domain of learning. 'You're being too rough!' 'Are you OK?' These simple questions teach kids about each other.
"I haven't had a parent that wasn't OK with it after it has explained to them. Procedures and benefits are the most important things for any parent. I have shown them research of how it benefits their child from a developmental stand point and how it can be done safely. If they are ever worried I can always reassure them of the procedure and benefits. If they really don't want it I will explain what their child is missing out on and they will realize that it is a necessary part of play. I mean, if they really don't want it I will plan other activities for that child but this has literally never happened."
Q. Why is play important for children?
"Obviously play is important because that's how children learn most skills and knowledge. Imagining and extrapolating based on what they know. Unfortunately, we as adults stop learning like this. I have found that this is the best way to get information to stick though. Have fun with educating yourself. Textbook education is dryer than Cape Town, South Africa, come April."
Q. What about outdoor play? Is it important?
"Oh man, nature play is great. I have said this before and I'll say it again, pogs, playing cards, fidget spinners came and went. Sticks are always going be in style. There is so much freedom to explore, build, observe and learn. Unfortunately, Winnipeg winters can get colder than Mars (legit fact) so I take advantage of the situations we get."
Q. How did you get into this field?
"I was in Civil Engineering and was not big on the prolonged desk work. My mom took on foster kids and I always loved being the good kind of big brother. I've always been a big kid and wanted to revisit that as a career. I was working towards my Bachelor of Education and was working part time at a daycare. After my second practicum I became very aware of the stringent archaic methods of teaching in a classroom and fell in love with the idea of emergent curriculum. I left university to follow a more active role in Early Childhood Education. I have plans to revamp childcare. Also, change the way we as ECEs are viewed and make my program the benchmark locally, then city, provicially and eventually nationally."
Q. What is your favorite memory working with children?
"My favorite memory was actually while I was in the ECE workplace co-op program in college. I had two days in school and three days on site. Got paid the full work week, too. Sick deals. 10 points for Manitoba. My grandma and my uncle use to sit me down and tell me stories from South America. Their lives, folklore, etc. So I was kind of nurtured into a bookless story teller, too. The kids started saying, "Not a book ... tell us one of your head stories!" So one day I come back from to the center and this little guy says he started story time with Dane. I mean I was so tickled that it resonated with him so much that at 4 years old he had to take up the mantle when I was away. And here's the kicker, the other kids ate it up! Proud educator moment for sure."
Q. What's your favorite book to read to your class?
"I am a little biased here for sure. I started writing my own stories down. Just piecing things together and reworking them over time. My favorite is about a mysterious noise in a forest called, 'The Grumblewood.' Kids love it. Ooooooo, as a total initiation rite type of shenanigan I make new staff read 'Fox in Socks' by Dr. Seuss. If you can get through that book, and manage to keep the kids with you, you are a certified storyteller in my books."
Q. What is your favorite activities to do with your class?
"Answering questions. Seems simple but nothing gets me going like the honest pure curiosity for learning sake. I taught two kids to do Rubiks cubes this week because one of them had one for Christmas and vowed to figure it out by the end of the year. He asked me what to do, and now we have four of them in the program. A couple kids asked about World War ll and we took off. Subject to subject. From war to machinery to aftermath. To politics and peace. Into global awareness and eventually into environment and space. This is what I live for. So emergent. Love it."
Q. What advice do you give men and women thinking about going into this field?
"This is going to sound harsh, but do not enter this field for money or an easy job. Just because you have brothers or sisters or children of your own does not make you a good educator. This is difficult work, and it is not financially rewarding. There is much deeper things to study over being a baby sitter. This not our role. With all of that said, it is the most fulfilling job I have ever had, and can't picture doing anything else."
So what do you do?
I work at a daycare.
Does the role of mass babysitter sound at all fair?
I am NO sitter, just listen and count them, there's more to this role than I think that you fathom.
I am a Doctor
A small cut no worries, I'll bandage it quick. Body temperature close to forty, you are getting sick.
I'm a Lawyer
Who had the toy first, what did the accused call you? Were you the only one hurt, or did the plaintiff fall too?
I am an Architect
The base is too weak. It will never get that high. Proper reinforcements, and we can build to the sky.
I'm a Chemist
Borax, glue and water, a Non-Newtonian goo. It's liquid when slowed, but now it's rock hard too?!
I am an Artist
Use these colours. Add glue for the start. Wow that's amazing, it truly is art!
I am a Singer
Though there's no angel voice from me, you see, in the key of me, I sing to thee.
I am an Actor
For me? Yes, Hello? Where are you? Wait, is this thing on? Who ever was calling me surely has gone.
I am a Mathematician
5 fingers left on my lonely left hand. Take away 1 more, and the quintet is a 4-man band.
I am a Coach
Pass the ball, work together, play as a team, that's the way to the top, listen to the fans scream!
I am a Psychologist
You don't want to clean up, you hate when things end. Just remember that new things are beginning, my friend.
Everyday new solutions to solve problem number one, five, or the other.
You name it and I've done it, in one way or another.
A jack of all trades and a master of none. The sum of these tasks leads to but one.
The single job that can sum up all of these?
I am no sitter, I am an ECE.