In The Name of Passion
In The Name of Passion
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of OMEP Ireland.
As a graduate coming into the Early Childhood sector, I have spent some time in a variety of settings over my time studying, in Ireland and abroad in Norway. I have learned quite a lot through observing staff and the environments they work in. One thing I have noticed, universally, is the passion that educators hold for the work that they do, and their love of working with and supporting children. A job that I have always seen as quite a heroic one. We are so much more than ‘teachers’ or ‘child minders’ to young children, we are carers, supporters, number one fans, idea creators, developmental enthusiasts, artists, nurses, scientists, psychologists, and comfort in a home away from home. Caring for children who are not your own entails a huge level of responsibility, trust, patience, and care. It is selfless work that is often more rewarding for us than for the children. However, over my four years of studies, I have also learned that quite often, passion is not enough to encourage early childhood professionals to remain within the sector.
There is a significant discourse among early childhood professionals surrounding levels of satisfaction within the sector which can be seen in studies such as the Big Start Early Years Professionals Survey. This survey highlights areas of dissatisfaction such as pay, recognition and working conditions and sparked my initial interest in understanding this topic further. Pay in particular has become a true source of dissatisfaction for our sector. Sadly, passion cannot pay our bills, feed our families, or support us in further professional development. We saw the need for improvement in these areas as over 30,000 of us from all over the country took to the streets of Dublin to protest these issues. Our voices were heard that day, our passion was displayed for all to see, but there is so much more that can and needs to be done. We cannot go on like this. We work incredibly hard to earn our degrees, to understand the best ways to support children’s holistic development, to provide high quality care for young children and we continue to do this throughout our careers. As a workforce we are overlooked and our pay does not reflect the work that we do.
Another thing I have learned about early years professionals is that we are entirely dedicated to what we do and commit ourselves to this career knowing that we more than likely will not receive a fair wage for our work, but we do it anyway, because we are passionate, because we care, and because we hope that one day things will change. As a graduate starting off in the sector, I aim to not only hope for change, but to drive the change. To advocate alongside one another to fight for improvements in the sector that we are all so passionate about. Passion may not be enough sometimes, but we as a united sector are more than enough and are always going to be enough to one day see the change that we strive for.
The author, Emily McNamara, is 22 years old and has just completed her four-year level 8 Bachelor of Early Childhood Education degree from Dublin City University. Over her four years of study she has learned a lot and experienced a lot. Emily has been placed in a variety of settings within the sector in Ireland and has lived abroad in Norway for over half a year, studying their kindergarten’s and observing their approach to learning. Emily has developed a growing interest in environments for children and environments for staff. For her dissertation, levels of job satisfaction and motivators took the lead. The undeniable need for change in the sector has become more and more evident each year and so her interest for the satisfaction of professionals in the sector has too. The demand for a fair wage for Early Childhood Professionals has become abundantly clear to the country over the last few months and I believe this is an issue that we can progress further in the hope to see some change.