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Janet Dixon: "Investing in teachers is investing in children - our future leaders"

ECE Teacher Pay meeting - a presentation by Janet DixonKia ora, Talofa, my name is Janet Dixon. I have been involved with ECE in some way since 1967!

I remember a friend of my father said “Janet is too intelligent to be an Early Childhood teacher” of course that only increased my determination to be an ECE Teacher.

Recently I have been wondering if that is still the way this country thinks – you don’t need a brain to be with children!

What has happened to New Zealand? To the reputation of our wonderful holistic curriculum, quality centres and well qualified committed teachers.

The curriculum still has a strong reputation overseas. We can be incredibly proud of that.

The well-qualified committed teachers are certainly still here!

But, whatever happened to higher numbers of qualified teachers, smaller group numbers especially for younger children and financial support for trained teachers doing a professional job?

Is what we are seeing part of the lack of value for babies and young children and misunderstanding about how these children grow and develop?

Some exciting things have been substantially researched bout how young brains develop in cortisol free situations with adults who understand the effect of attachment and this calmness.

But wait, I heard recently that there has been a large increase in the number of reports about children and teachers in centres being hurt (sometimes seriously) by other children. Does this describe a cortisol free environment with wise trained teachers?

Are our young children happy and learning in a “safe environment”?

Does this situation rather reflect minimum numbers of professionally trained teachers on the lowest pay scale with other untrained adults with maximum regulation numbers of children so that employers can cream off an $18 mill profit annually?

Where are the ethics in that?

Otago University’s longitudinal study which is being carried out with more than 1000 New Zealanders since they were born, fore fronts the degree of self-control children attain at the age of three, and predicts how happy, healthy and wealthy they will be as adults. Ritchie Poulton, the director of the study says that self- control is an incredibly important trait….. you could even think of it as an essential raw ingredient for life success!”

What huge expectations we have of ECE Teachers to support each child to achieve this!

In addition, teachers have a lot of occupational hazards. For example, teachers are dealing with:

  • Back pain and injuries from carrying babies, children and heavy play equipment
  • Loss of hearing (from being in an environment of constant loud noises)
  • Being hurt by a child (accidentally or-----?
  • Subject to ongoing infection, illness and disease
  • Job insecurity (Currently many Community Centres are under threat of closure and/or are actually closing).
  • A lack of sufficient recognition
  • Low monetary reward for hours worked

Why would such conditions attract you into this profession?

Isn’t it simple

These children are our future leaders and politicians - a long-term investment for us all.

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