Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Educator & Author Matt Leslie From New South Wales by Mike Prochaska
Matt Leslie works for an organization called Big Fat Smile and is a director at Woronora Heights Community Preschool in Sydney, New South Wales. Matt also wrote an amazing article about men in Early Childhood Education.
“I suppose you could say that I accidentally fell into the industry,” says Matt. “Back in ‘07 I started a Certificate 3 in Children’s Service and was going to use it as a stepping stone to head to primary education. I was then offered a job by the CEO of Illawarra Children’s Services (now Big Fat Smile) who convinced me to stay and I’ve been here ever since. Big Fat Smile supported me through further study and sponsored my degree, I wouldn’t be here without them.” Read on to learn more about Matt…
Q. What do you see as the advantages of having male teachers?
"I’m always careful to highlight that I don’t consider male teachers to be the solution to the challenges that the industry faces – that kind of assumption tends to suggest that women are the source of the problems which is not the case. What I will say is that I believe we provide balance, which is crucial to the operation of our services. Furthermore, I believe the inclusion of men in EC is an important way to role model/promote positive interactions between males and females and also males and males.
"For any male looking to join the industry but that might need a push, I’d just like to mention that my career thus far has provided me with more fulfillment than I ever could have hoped for. I’ve been in the industry, working directly with children for more than 10 years and couldn’t picture ever doing anything else. If you’re ready and willing, there’ll always be a home for you here."
Q. What is a favorite memory working with kids?
"I have too many to name, we’d be here all day if I had to list them, but one of the coolest things to happen, was getting to see some of the first children I ever taught, reach out to say hello and to thank me for the work I did. I was originally based in a low socioeconomic area and so to see some of these kids almost a decade later, while in high school was incredibly humbling. Crazy to think how important those interactions in the early years can be. We have the power to shape a child’s entire life. How many people can say they have that type of power?"
Q. What is your favorite book to read to your class?
"Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems. It’s a hilarious story and promotes child engagement. I recommend it to all my staff and believe it should be a part of every good book catalog."
Q. What is your favorite activity to do with your kids?
"I love science. Watching children hypothesize and experiment is just an incredible experience. The process behind the learning is just something else and to be there when they finally grasp a concept, well, I don’t think there’s anything cooler."
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