Minority report

David Watkins

Throughout his 33 year career David Watkins has been a member of a tiny minority.

He’s a male teacher who’s been working in early childhood since 1983.

At every school he’s taught at, be it Trinity Grammar School, Loquat Valley Anglican School and currently Arden Anglican Primary School (where he is the Primary Principal), he has taught preschool to Year 2.

When asked why his answer was simple: “fun”.

“The talk of lack of males in the profession, especially primary and early childhood, hasn’t changed in the 30 years that I’ve been a teacher,” David said.

“A lot of males prioritise pay rather than doing something they love. I never wanted to sit behind a desk. I didn’t want to do something very academic.”

Initially David thought he would be a PE teacher, but his scholarship led him into primary and he hasn’t looked back.

“When I was at the University of Sydney I realised the PE students were very different from me. I like being active and hands on but I’m not into the competitive side of sport.

“Young children are so imaginative, innocent and questioning. They just want to have fun.

“I’ve taught Year 6 and by then they are getting self conscious and they don’t want to join in so much.

“That’s one of the sad things about education, how we want kids to be socialised and conform. I don’t think education is well set up for boys a lot of the time.”

The talk of lack of males in the profession, especially primary and early childhood, hasn’t changed in the 30 years that I’ve been a teacher.

David was recently presented with a badge honouring his 30 year continuous membership of the IEU. He used the occasion to address his staff about why he feels the Union has stayed relevant to him for 30 years.

“I joined in my first year of teaching because I realised the Union was ensuring the rights of myself and other teachers.

“I could sit back and get the benefits without contributing or do the right thing. Trinity had really strong Union groups at the time.”

“I deal a lot with the AIS [Association of Independent Schools] and I don’t think they view the Union as the enemy, but just someone they need to deal with to get things done.

“I don’t envision trouble but who would I turn to if there was? The school boards and councils are not out to do the wrong thing but they do often just see the bottom line. Schools are about so much more than that. I think the IEU and the AIS are aware of that.”

David said he has found other benefits such as Union publications, Union Shopper and Teachers Health have been an added bonus over the years.

“The foundational thing about my career is the relationship with children. That has never changed. Children must be the focus but we can’t forget the adults that work in school.

“Schools should be child centred but adult friendly.”

Sue Osborne