One of our TDT’s this week was to watch this clip from RSAnimate:
This video discusses the fact that our education system remains very much unchanged from when schooling became available to all, whereas our children and the needs of our society have changed greatly. I was particularly interested in the part about Divergent Thinking and the fact that children start by being able to think laterally about concepts but this ability declines as they are ‘educated’. It reminded me of this cartoon which really illustrates the idea that we are not teaching our children to think for themselves, only to conform and think in the way that ‘we’ have decided is right. It also shows that a teacher cannot teach children to think in new and different ways if they continue to think in the same, closed and traditional ways.
I am a strong believer that this needs to change and children need to be allowed and encouraged to be individuals; learning in ways that excite and inspire them. I feel that the Curriculum for Excellence has begun to take steps in the right direction, placing more focus on children’s interests however this seems to become less important as children move through their school life and have to focus on learning the concepts and information which will be covered within formal tests and assessments.
By challenging our traditional approaches to teaching and learning, we may be able to open up education to those who are currently failed by the system, and (as mentioned in the above video) we can hopefully move away from sorting individuals into the two very narrow categories of ‘academic’ or ‘non academic’.
This evening I was fortunate enough to attend a cpd course held at the Verdant Works which encouraged us to explore the possibilities of this setting for STEM based learning and lessons. The course was open to a wide range of teaching professionals including postgrads and high school teachers and so this was a good opportunity to meet and mix with those who have had different experiences to my own.
As part of this course we were invited to explore the museum and exhibitions, as well as the learning areas which can be used if teachers were to bring groups. One of the most interesting features of the visit was the huge steam engine, which I am told will be functioning soon so that visitors can get an understanding of how it worked. There are also wonderful displays of the process of creating Jute – from the plant to the finished product which included demonstrations of real, working machines.
Although I was excited and interested in what I saw, I found that I was struggling to take this into a STEM mindset and think about how I could plan learning activities and experiences appropriately around this subject matter. I tend to find that I lean towards creative and literary learning ideas and this experienced caused me to realise that I need to strengthen my knowledge of the STEM outcomes. I plan to do some research and reading to this end and this will help me during the second session of this cpd where we plan to carry out some of the possible activities.
From a very young age, I always knew that I wanted to work with children. I was inspired by my mother who worked both as a child minder and nursery nurse and as I spent time with her in these roles, I experienced the satisfaction of sharing in the children’s achievements.
On completing my GCSE’s I felt that my strengths were not within academia, but rather I was eager to get out into the working world. I chose to undertake a BTEC National Diploma in Early Years which allowed me to develop my professional knowledge while undertaking many hours of practical placements. This course allowed me to spend time with children aged from babies to 10 years and it was at this time that I began to recognise that my strengths laid within the education rather than care side of childcare. My favourite placements were within schools where I was able to work with and support the most fantastic and inspirational teachers. I also enjoyed my time within pre-school settings and at that point I felt that this age group would be the most suited to my skills.
After the BTEC course I worked within numerous nursery settings both within England and Scotland, always working with older children and finding a great joy in helping them to learn and develop. While working, my confidence began to grow, allowing me to take on positions of responsibility such as room leader and later Deputy Manager.
The decision to move into Primary Teaching came while working as the Deputy Manager at my last job within a fantastic nature nursery. When taking the position I had been promised that I would continue to spend the majority of my time interacting with the children, but as the management workload had built up I was finding that I spent less and less time doing what I loved best. I spent many hours discussing with colleagues and loved ones about where I felt my career was heading and with their support I decided to push myself and take a chance on moving into higher education, specifically; to undertake the MA Education Course.
I was incredibly nervous when making this life change as I had never considered myself to be particularly academic and I wondered whether I would be able to cope with the demands that would be placed on me. I undertook an Access course which allowed me to gain the qualifications that I needed for teacher training and while there I discovered my love for learning and was amazed to find that my hard work allowed me to achieve better grades than I believed possible!
What kind of teacher do I want to become?
During my time working in early years settings, I have come to understand the importance of strong bonds and relationships between adults and children. I have found that the best practitioners are those who are open, honest and have a true interest in what the children and their families have to say. I hope to bring these skills to my work within the classroom and to become the kind of teacher who allows every pupil to feel valued and listened to.
My work within the nature nursery has opened my eyes to the many benefits of outdoor learning, from greater concentration and focus to creative skills and health and wellbeing. This is an area which I have found a great passion for and would like to continue as I begin working with older children.
Finally, I feel that I am an enthusiastic and positive individual and I would like to become the type of teacher who other staff can approach for support, ideas and guidance where possible. Within a School setting, no teacher is an individual and everyone is working with a common goal which is to provide children with the greatest possible experiences and opportunities throughout their education. I hope that in the future I can be a valuable member of any team that I am a part of.