Category Archives: 2.3 Pedagogical Theories & Practice

Day 1 at Somerset

Okay. So. Somerset is AMAZING!

Arriving at the school this morning was incredible. The campus is so big there are separate gates for pre-prep, junior and high school. I am still overwhelmed at the size of this school and the amount of staff they have for everything. They even have a snake catcher!

The beginning of my day was spent getting photos taken, completing inductions and collecting my “blue card” which permits me to work with children in Australia. I was also shown around the school a bit more getting a glimpse of their library, staff rooms and all of the fire evacuation points. Fire procedures etc are similar to those in Scotland, but it was so interesting to hear abut their “lock down” procedure they have in place “just in case”. When this happens the song “the man from snowy river” plays over the loudspeakers, which prompts all doors to be locked and the children to hide away out of sight.

The classroom routine is also noticeable different. Between the beginning of school and recess, children stop to have a “brain snack”. It was so lovely to see a study break being encouraged and the children learning about the importance of relaxing their mind. It was also a shock to see how much the sun influences the day. All classrooms have approved sun tan lotion for children to apply, and “no hat no play” is enforced school-wide to provide extra protection to the children’s heads and necks. Additionally, the majority of the school is actually underneath shade to ensure the safety of the children.

I particularly loved the work ethics in the classroom. In the afternoon the children were working on their “rainforest cafe” as part of their assessment for the end of their first line of inquiry. The children all went off to more “comfortable” working areas. I was astonished at how to motivate the children were not only to get a substantial amount of work done but also to do so at a high standard. All without prompting from the teacher! No one was off task, no one was chatting off topic – it was incredible!

At the end of the day, we went along to the week 8 assembly. I definitely had not anticipated how formal this would be. The school head, as well as the head of the junior school, were sat on the stage as well as a selected few pupils who ran the assembly. I was even asked to stand up and wished a happy birthday in front of the whole school (which was a very nice touch!) Then, they only went and announced the national anthem. I wanted the ground to swallow me whole as I didn’t have a clue what the words were. I definitely have some homework to do!

Now for day 2! I am so excited to see more inquiry in action, specialist teachers and lots of sports!

Placement Jitters

Current mode: panic!

No, not really. However, I am feeling very nervous about placement which begins TOMORROW. I say placement but is, in fact, a “prac”. I arrived in Australia Friday just passed and about to undertake a placement in Somerset College, an International Baccalaureate world school in Queensland!

As well as all of the nerves I felt before my last placement, I’ve accumulated about ten zillion more. Well. Ish. This is a totally different curriculum to Scotland and I am so incredibly excited to learn more about it.  An (unexpected) tour around the school when I was

An (unexpected) tour around the school when I was fresh off the plane has really given me a feel for the place. It is nothing like any of the schools I’ve been in before. It has an Olympic-sized swimming pool (which actual Olympic teams come over to train in!), a massive gym complex, sports fields, running tracks, multiple buildings, hugely facilitated classrooms all on a campus about four times the size of the campus at Dundee Uni! A short introduction to my class and a quick chat with the teacher has given me a little insight into the class dynamics. Lots of excitable little faces that I can’t wait to teach and learn from!

Australia as a place is EXTREMELY HOT. I am boiling, but it is way better than chilly Scotland. I
am very intrigued to learn about how the sun affects the daily routines of the school. I am so excited to learn more about Somerset and Australia, which just happens to have the cutest koalas EVER.



What standards we should be attaining as student teachers?

smartboardThe General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) has their own standards for registration. These are split into two parts, The Standards for Provisional Registration (SPR), and The Standard for Full Registration (SFR). These are a series of standards put in place to make clear how teachers should act, and the values they should possess as a professional. For those of us looking forward to when we apply for Provisional Registration, it is good to use as guidance and support.

The SPR lays down what is expected of us as student teachers, and we should use it to shape ourselves into the teachers of the future. It is stated that once you have gained the SPR, and then the SFR, you should continue to develop yourself as a person. These standards are set down to set us up for a “Career of lifelong learning”.

The professional standards we are seeking to attain are vital in shaping us into the best teachers we can be.

It is interesting that the code is essentially the criteria we need to meet to ensure we are fit to A GOOD TEACHERteach. I find it very beneficial that the document States the Professional Values and Personal Commitment that I should have as a teacher. These include:

  • Social Justice
  • Integrity
  • Trust and Respect
  • Professional Commitment

I like how it goes into great depth about which areas we should be knowledgeable about, such as the curriculum, teaching programmes and assessments. It is very helpful that it has a breakdown of the things within education policy (such as laws and legislations), as well as the education system we should be aware of as students.

The standards do however state that we should have high expectations of all learners (3.1.4). Whereas I do feel our expectations should be relatively high, is it not unrealistic to have high expectations of everyone? Not everyone has the same abilities, and expectations should be specific to each individual learner.

Within a separate document, The Student Teacher Code, there are different rules laid down. I didn’t realise that after we gain the SFR, as well as having our PVG’s and by that time tonnes of experience in the classroom, the GTC STILL assess our fitness to teach. I do however understand the seriousness of a criminal conviction, and agree with GTC’s need to investigate any allegations.

downloadI found the “Key Principles of the Student Teacher Code” Very helpful. They state that as a student we should be good role models, make our pupils our main focus, and be respectful of others along with a few others.

When we are working with pupils we should show good moral values. Part 1 of the code is about how we work with pupils. It contains points about us having to keep sensitive information confidential, and that we should be a role model in EVERYTHING we do and say. I like the way they have written this into an easy to read document.

Part 2 is about how us as a student teacher works with others. As I took the Working Together module for my elective, it is nice to see the=is document including the importance of working cooperatively with those in other professions. I also think it is fair that it states you should not comment on other teachers or professionals within the educational community. I can only imagine the damage this could cause and I would not wish it on anyone.integrity_definition

Part 3 is mainly about how we should be honest and show integrity as a student teacher. Whilst
reading this part of the comment, it is very evident that a lot of these points. No matter what profession I could have chosen to go into I would never engage in criminal behaviour. I also find it very upsetting that some serious offences must have taken place in the past for some of these points to be added to this document. The point on social networking stands out a lot. I agree as professionals we should definitely be careful of how we portray ourselves on social media. We do not want our reputation ruined. 

Overall, the whole Student-Teacher Code is beneficial in highlighting how we should and should not act as professionals. The importance of equality and diversity are extremely important, especially when considering the Equality Act (2010). I can see how this code coincides with the standards for provisional education, which are both very useful documents.

Do we ever stop learning?

The brain never stops absorbing information. It is constantly processing thought and controlling our bodies, right through to our old age.

At birth, we already have all the brain cells we need along with billions of interconnected neurons. By age three, our brains have made almost 1000 trillion connections. 

Many of these neuronal connections have to be cut back, and this process is called pruning. The rate of this, and what is cut back, depends on your environment and what you are interested in.

Our brains “plasticity”, is its ability to continually change and adapt to and from different circumstances. This sets up our brains for lifelong learning.

However, in terms of learning our brains are most receptive in our early years. It is like a muscle, and it will degrades as and when it is not used. Therefore we are in prime shape to learn and absorb lots of information when we are younger. So, we do not stop learning, we simply begin to take longer to learn. This in turn can be frustrating and cause a lot of people to give up learning, but it certainly does not mean we are incapable.

Brain Development Timeline

4000 BC

Ancient Sumerian records with the first recorded writing of the brain found. An anonymous writing documenting mind changing sensations caused by ingesting a poppy plant.

2500 BC

The Egyptians come to believe that the heart is the body’s most important organ. They believe the brain is minor and of no importance, discarding it during the process of mummification. Despite this, there is an ancient Egyptian record known as the “Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus” that contains the first written account of the anatomy of the brain. It includes 26 separate cases of brain injury along with recommendations of treatment.

2000 BC

There is evidence from archaeologists that during this time “trepanion”, a form of surgery involving boring a hole through the skull, was practiced widely.

Skulls with evidence pf healing have been recovered suggesting the subjects of these procedure survived. There is no known reason for the high volume of trepanioned skulls but it is suggested it was done for both spiritual reasons. And to treat thins such as headaches, mental illnesses and epilepsy.

450 BC

An early Greek physician, Alcmaeon, is the very first to use animal dissection as a basis for his theories. From his studies he concluded that the brain is the central organ of sensation and thought, not like the heart which the Egyptians believed. He also suggests that the optic nerves are “light-bearing paths” up to the eyes and brain.

335 BC

Aristotle comes to the conclusion that the heart is the organ of thought and sensation, and that the brain is merely a “radiator designed to cool it”. He believes that the basis of thought cannot be found within the body.

His theories of memory are more successful, correctly surmising that the process of short term memory (“immediate recall”) are different from those involved in long term memory.


An Oxford professor, Thomas Wills wrote a book about the cerebral hemispheres which account for 70% of the human brain. In it he states that they determine thought and action, and are completely different from other parts of the brain that control basic motor skills. In his book he introduces the words; ‘hemisphere,’ ‘pyramid,’ ‘lobe,’ ‘neurology,’ and ‘corpus striatum’ into modern vocabulary. His work is extremely influential in leading future neuroscientists with their studies of the brain


A railroad worker, Phineas Gage, survives a bizarre accident where an iron tod pierces the frontal lobe of his brain during an explosion. Although he recovered, he did experience some mood and behaviour changes. He went from being a quiet, hard worker, to someone who could not complete a job. It has been suggested that key parts of the personality reside in the frontal lobe. This lead to a procedure called lobotomy, which involved removing portions of the frontal lobe in the hope of curing mental illnesses and depression.


Sir Francis Galton published his work called the “Hereditary Genius”. This claimed that intelligence can only be inherited, and high levels of intellectual achievement are passed down through genetics.

He also made the first attempt to measure intelligence by setting up an “anthropometric laboratory”. In here he used visual acuity, auditory accuracy and breathing capacity to assess intelligence levels.


Wilhem Windt sets up the first human behaviour lab in Leipzig, Germany. He suggested that psychology should be regarded as a complementary scientific discipline to physiology and anatomy.

His lab is was known as the Institute for Experimental Psychology. Here student were taught philosopic and psychologic subjects including the studies of attention and sensory processes. The Institute became the model for most psychological laboratories established in Euorpoe thereafter.


Leading French psychologist, Alfred Binet, disputes Galton’s use pf sensory discrimination as an intelligence measure. He believed that individual differences in intelligence could be detected through measures of processes such as imagination, memory, comprehension and attention.

He is appointed to a commission concerned with integrating special needs children into the public school system in Paris. The committee decided a special education programme should be creates, and a system should be designed to identify these slower learning pupils entering school.

He collaborated with Theodore Simon to create a scale which measures higher mental processes such as imagination and memory. To test it, they drew samples from groups of children from schools, orphanages, hospitals and asylums. They carried out various cognitive tests which clearly discriminated between the normal school population and those in need of additional support. They introduced the scale in 1905, stressing it should only assess whether a child is of inferior intelligence and is not designed to identify the psychologically unstable.


A British neuroscientist, Henry Head publishes “Studies in Neurology”. Within it he documents his important students on the neurophysiology of sensory perception in the cerebral cortex. He especially focusses on patients’ spatial perceptions of their own bodies.


The Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach develops the ink blot test, or the Rorschach test as it is now known. This consists of ten standardised ink blots. Half in black and white, and half in colour. The subject is asked to describe what he sees in the “pictures” and his responses are analysed by the test giver on three areas, location, determinants and content.

Many psychiatrists have found animal and human sight to be useful clues to the patient’s psyches. It was used to identify personality traits and disorders, but it now not used so much as it is hard to independently validate the results.


Walter Rudolph Hess wins the Nobel Prize for work regarding the interbrain (hypothalamus, subthalamus and parts of the thalamus). His research indicates that the interbrain is responsible for the coordination of the body’s internal organs.


M.E Phelps, E.J Hoffman and M.M TER Pogossian develop the very first Positron Emission Topography (PET) scanner. This provides visual information about the activity of the brain. Patients are given a substance with radioactive atoms that emit positively charged particles (known as positrons). The gamma radiation resulting from this process is sensed by detectors and converted into cross-sectioned images of the brain by the computer. These scans are used to monitor things such as oxygen utilisation in the brain and blood flow.


US President George Bush declares this decade as the “Decade of the Brain”


Stanley B. Prusiner wins Nobel Prize for his discovery of a new genre of infectious agents called prions. Prions normally exist as harmless cellular proteins however they have the capacity to change their structures to configurations that can lead to a formation of harmful particles. Pruisner’s research found that prions can lead to  several brain diseases that can cause dementia in both animals and humans. This has also helped provide important insights into researching other types of illnesses related to dementia, such as Alzheimer’s.


The Nobel Prize is awarded to Arvid Carlsson, Paul Greengard and Eric Kandel for their discoveries of signal transduction in the nervous system. This happens when a message is sent from one nerve cell to another through a chemical transmitter. Carlsson, Greengard, and Kandel’s research hones in on signal transduction between nerve cells known as “slow synaptic transmission”. Their discovery has highlighted how disturbances in this can cause neurologic and psychiatric diseases.