Why do we do it?

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Amid all the doom and gloom, it is important to remember why we work in the early years and what we, and others, get out of it


Michael Petteval

I’ve had the luxury of a few days off, and as a result am feeling slightly more relaxed. Having more time to garden, walk and potter about has left me in a reflective mood, especially with the current level of doom on every newspaper front page and website.

It is easy to revert to the negative. There was an interesting comment on the radio about populism. Populism flourishes in the discourse of discontent, primarily because it’s so much easier to agree on what is awful than what is good.

There is a great deal to be negative about in the world of early years. Poor wages, long hours, high levels of accountability and responsibility, little respect; the list could go on. In an effort to put a stick in the spinning wheel of pessimism, I thought I would try to focus on why I do what I do.

I wake in the morning and someone else’s welfare is at the forefront of my mind; I get ready for work looking forward to the greeting I will get when I arrive at work from people who are genuinely happy to see me. I am genuinely concerned about the happiness of those I work with and I want the very best for them so that together we can make a difference.

I celebrate so many different successes during the day, many of which others wouldn’t or couldn’t notice. I laugh when I am happy and feel the pain of others quite deeply and literally, trying to think: what can I do to make this better?

I help ease blocks in relationships when I see them, and feel genuinely happy when something I have done makes a difference (no matter how small) to someone else. I often get to work outdoors and sometimes I manage to avoid the glare of the computer screen.

I do internal cartwheels when something I have done has helped others think or question or I have introduced a new skill or area of knowledge. I revel in conversations about both the ridiculous and philosophical, am awestruck by the depth and purity of thought of those I work for and I feel honoured and privileged to have been put in a position of so much trust. I do feel valued by my community.

Most of all it helps me feel hope – hope that there can be change and hope because, if we can help facilitate a love for learning and tolerance of each other, then the future can be good.

Now that’s a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

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