First encounters

6th October 2000 at 01:00
Kate Taylor suddenly has doubts about her career

I don't think I have ever been so scared. I have a recurrent nightmare that I am standing in front of a class and can't say anything.

It follows my decision to leave my nice, safe accountancy job to embark on a PGCE course. In my last few weeks at work everyone told me I was crazy. Why did I want to leave a job that would make me rich and where I would deal with supposedly sane adults? Why give all that up to embark on a profession where I would surely be underpaid and undervalued? I told them there were more important things in life than money. While their grubby, materialistic calculators were devising endless, boring accounts, I would be doing something worthwhile. I would be shaping the fabric of society.

Now I don't know if I can do it. I guess I had just been thinking about the nice parts of teaching and dealing with a subject I love. I forgot that teaching involves confidently standing in front of a class - not easy for someone who has never liked being in the spotlight. Teachers keep telling me that everyone feels tis way, but I am not sure that everyone feels it so strongly. When I got a place on the course, I went to watch an experienced teacher for a day. Sure, the pupils could be naughty but he seemed to bring them round to his way of thinking quite easily.

I was able to convince myself that, like him, I would be able to reach that pinnacle of calm control. When concerned family and friends asked me if I had the right character to deal with 30 screeching children I told them I would be fine; that children are not as intimidating as adults. I believed that once I was faced with a class I would be able to keep order. Now I'm not so sure. Last month I spent a few days helping out in a school, and everyone but me seemed to know what they were doing.

Yet there is still something that makes me want to give it a go. Maybe I will rue the day that I walked out of my old job thinking I was embarking on a more challenging yet more exciting way of life. But you never know until you try, and I want to give this a try.

Kate Taylor is a PGCE student at the University of East Anglia

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