We were interested to read that TACTYC is celebrating 40 years of existence this year and took some time to look at the latest edition of their journal Early Years: An International Research Journal. The foreword is written by Sacha Powell who quotes one of the founder members of TACTYC, Janet Moyles, who refers to the passion early years practitioners have for their profession. This struck a chord with us because we had the very same week met with a book publisher who had discussed with us how impressed she had been with the values and vision of the many Early Childhood students she had met with.
Practitioners will define passion in different ways depending on the context they are working within but certainly it is a word that practitioners often use (Moyles, 2001), or some might say overuse, to describe how they engage with their work. But what do they actually mean when they use the word ‘passion’, do practitioners have a shared understanding and why might this matter? Colley (2006) uses the term ‘emotional labour’ to describe the passion and commitment to their vocation that practitioners can adopt but warns at the same time that this disposition is one that can be taken advantage of. Moyles (2001) holds a similar view suggesting that this passion ‘can work for or against them’ (p. 81). However, she also demonstrates how this passion can be harnessed both for the good of children and the workforce in general by providing opportunities for practitioners to work with researchers and engage in critical reflection on this element of their role.
However rewarding it may be working with young children and their families it is recognised that this is not a job for the faint hearted. There are many reasons that people want to work with young children (Cooke and Lawton, 2008). Many will want to have a positive impact on outcomes for young children’s lives; for example, Koch and Farquhar (2015) cite Williams’ assertion (2011) that they have ‘a desire to be involved in something socially significant’ (p. 381). Yet at the same time they are not rewarded financially for this important work and their voices ‘are rarely heard’ (Brownhill and Oates, 2016, p. 658). It seems that practitioners have this passion when they enter the sector but how do they manage to maintain it in difficult circumstances?
We think passion can be seen as resilience, creativity and wanting to be an agent of change; these are characteristics that have always defined those who work with young children. Passion may be an overused word but without it how could we remain motivated on such a rewarding but difficult task. What about you? Do you feel passionate about the work you do with young children? How do you keep going and stay motivated with the many challenges you can find in the work place? Please do share your thoughts with us.