Kia ora e te kaupapa whānau to the recent EC-Menz Wellington hui participants – what an inspiring day! A collection of nearly fifty men and women from across the sector gathered at the Childspace Workshop in beautiful Ōhāriu Valley to exchange ideas and celebrate the many roles of good men in early childhood education.
After coffee and karakia, Ben Clark started the day with a great look at his work around big-body play and positive risk-taking with toddlers and older infants. His video footage was especially striking and was combined with some fascinating results out of Norway in this very under-researched area.
Morning tea was combined with a team photograph and a play in the experimental play-laboratory at the Childspace Workshop known as ‘Dopamine Forest’. This pine forest is full of ropes, nets, swings, and giant musical instruments, so much fun was had by all. The Victoria University students also discovered the golf driving range in the top paddock and peppered the south coast with balls.
The Victoria University EC-Menz chapter led us back in with a run-down on their engagement with VUW students from across the different years. Congratulations to Max and Josh and all these young people for supporting their fellow students through the long journey to their degree. They also spoke about their recent stall at the Taita College Careers day in the Hutt Valley, sharing the joy of ECE with the next generation of potential male teachers.
ECE pioneer Bob Drummond then gave us a fascinating insight into his own journey, as well as a really opening our eyes up to the hard work that has gone into creating the world-class ECE system we enjoy here in Aotearoa. He sparked group conversations that were lively and humorous but also dealt with extremely sensitive subjects.
Robin Christie then explored the joy of loose parts in children’s play, with examples ranging from bamboo poles to hay bales.
Toni Christie closed with a blessing and a beautiful waiata before the refreshments and lunch were served. The true networking then began, with the brazier being lit, the guitars tuned up, the Wellington ‘craft’ refreshments poured, and the hacky-sacks produced from hidden pockets!
Huge thanks to all the students, teachers, and policymakers who attended this marvelous event. Please keep up your work making this world a better place for young children and their whānau.