Early childhood job for the boys

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Men are lining up to become early childhood teachers.

They are swapping traditionally 'male' jobs, like a career in the building trade, to train as early childhood teachers at Vision College campuses in Hamilton, Auckland and Christchurch.

Early childhood education students David Mason and Corey Moore, 19, both set out to become builders but changed their minds to study early childhood in Hamilton. Caleb Goulsbro, 17, is studying alongside them.

They are among six men training at Vision College nationally this year, a record number since the one year national certificate course was introduced in 2003.

Only two per cent of early childhood educators are male, according to the latest census report from 2014.

"So far, there's never been a bad day as a teacher in training," said Corey who made the switch from building in mid-2015.

"If the day gets off to a rough start, children have a way of making the negativity disappear.

You walk into an environment full of children and you can't help but smile."

According to Corey men bring healthy risk to the childcare centre.

"They throw them up in the air and have rough and tumble fun."

He and his mates have found there's a stigma attached to men in such roles when they explain what they are studying to others for the first time.

"The reaction I get when I tell people I'm training to be an early childhood teacher is most often awkward surprise," Caleb said.

"I've even been told things like 'your job is meant for women and a mechanic is meant for men'. There seems to be an automatic judgement or suspicion of men in this industry, mainly from other males our age."

Laughing it off was the best approach, said David.

"When you wake up in the morning and want to go to college straight away, you know you've got a good career path lined up. None of us would change it for the world," he said.

They are so passionate about their course that they are keen to become ambassadors for it, encouraging other men to think about joining them.

"All three of us went to all-boys' schools, and not one of us had early childhood education presented to us as a career option. In fact, I was at school for five prize givings and not one graduate was going into early childhood education," Corey said.

"Having since discovered early childhood education, we'd all make ourselves available to go into schools to promote it, if it means other guys get to experience what we are."

Men brought a different dimension from women to early childhood teaching, Caleb said.

"My mother is widowed, so I know how it feels to live without a father. Male early childhood education teachers can be great male role models to such children by doing what a father does without replacing the father," he said.

Vision College early childhood education head of school Pam Wilson said the college had never had so many men enrolled in early childhood education.

"This year we have three young men studying ECE in Hamilton, two in Christchurch and one in Auckland," Pam said.

"We have had male early childhood education students before, but never this many at once. It is great that they can support one another in a strongly female-dominated field."

And the more men the better.

"Males are a rare but important demographic in this industry. They bring a wonderful balance into the classroom. Having men and women teachers better represents the community and society children live in," she said.

- Hamilton News

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