Ayrshire College encourages the recruitment and promotion of men into early years and childcare courses. As part of the College’s ambition to tackle gender imbalance in courses, the campaign #ThisManCares aims to inspire men into typically female dominated industries such as early years and health and social care.
“If I could say one last thing it would be that you’re changing gender roles for young people” – Evan McKiernan-Dooner
Evan didn’t expect that a year ago he would change his career pathway from business to early education and childcare. We caught up with him before the end of term to find out more about his future ambitions.
Why did you decide to study NC Higher Early Education and Childcare?
My end goal has always been to teach. I have always had an interest in education but I didn’t start off thinking it would be the route I would take.
I completed an HND in Business at college before I decided that it wasn’t the route for me. At 23 years old I decided that my career path is actually in early education.
Did you have any experience in early education and childcare before the course?
I hadn’t studied anything to do with early education and childcare. I also had no experience in the industry either. The only experience I had was looking after my little cousins.
What did you do on the course?
It’s a bit of everything really. You learn how to play, which is not something you ever think you would need to study. We looked at analysing child behaviour and learnt about the Hierarchy of Needs Model (Maslow), which I had actually studied in business and now understand it in a completely new way. I also completed work experience in a primary school for two days per week during the course.
What did you like best about the course?
Definitely the work placement. It was daunting at first as I didn’t know what to do and I was worried about being the only man in the school. Essentially it was me and the Janitor, but that didn’t put me off. Everyone was really supportive at the school.
My placement was in a primary one class which was challenging at first. I acted as a teaching assistant for the class teacher. One of my favourite moments was teaching a group of pupils about quantity. I gave them a plastic pound coin and then showed them that 100 pennies made the value of that one pound coin. Just seeing that lightbulb moment is incredible. You can almost see the moment that it just clicks and they have understood. It’s worth it all for that moment.
What has been the most challenging part of the course?
I don’t think anything has been too difficult, it is more the volume of work that you have to complete. I have completed an HND so I am used to studying. Throughout the year you have 16 activities and for each one you have to plan it, write it up and evaluate it, which is time-consuming.
Working with children is also challenging. It can be hard to understand what level a 5-year-old actually works at; and how to create activities and communicate information so they fully understand. You do learn this over time.
What have you learnt about yourself from this course?
I have learnt that I can walk into a class and complete some tasks that a classroom assistant does. I feel more confident, especially around children. Funnily enough I actually like children more now, not that I didn’t, it’s just now I can understand why they are behaving in a certain way. I am definitely much more patient and tolerant as well. This has actually made me better at my part-time job in hospitality. I feel like I am so much more confident when families come in. I can talk to the kids in a way they find engaging which parents really appreciate in a restaurant.
What are your future ambitions?
I would like to either become a Primary School Teacher or a School Counsellor. I would like to go to university and feel my qualifications from college will help me get there. I also want to travel, I could teach all over the world which is really exciting.
What advice would you give anyone thinking of taking the course, especially men?
It’s a worthwhile and enjoyable course. The career routes with this qualification are stable and well-paid jobs. You also don’t have to be ‘kid crazy’ if that makes sense, you learn to be tolerant and understanding with the pupils.
I think for men it’s important to acknowledge that you probably will be the minority in the college class and the workplace but that shouldn’t stop you. Working with women in a school is no different than working with women in a bar, or a restaurant or in any business really. The only difference is there might be more female teachers than male teachers in that school.
I have never experienced any stigma from friends or family, quite the opposite actually. Not once has anyone asked me why I would want to do this course or work in that industry.
If I could say one last thing it would be that you’re changing gender roles for young people. When male and female pupils see you as a teacher they learn what is normal and they learn if they want to be a teacher they can be. The primary one class didn’t know any different and totally accepted it as normal, and older classes really enjoyed having a male teacher as well.
It’s one of the most fulfilling jobs so don’t be afraid to try it out!
Lecturer, Germaine Dudgeon highly praised Evans contribution to the class: “Evan has been an asset to the class group bringing a male point of view to many discussions and has fit in well among the female-dominated course.
He has demonstrated his confident and caring nature while being helpful towards staff and colleagues. Evan received positive feedback from his placement where he provided the children with a positive male role model. He has successfully completed an NC Higher Early Education and Childcare and will be progressing onto our HNC Childhood Practice course in order to become a qualified Early Year’s Practitioner.”
If you think this might be the career route for you, click here to view the courses we have on offer.