First encounters

26th January 2001 at 00:00
Mature student Alison Narracott picks and mixes

Let's face it, mature students are seriously deranged. Between early mornings spent fumbling in shadowy bathrooms, and that twilight hour when we are supposed to attempt something called sleep, we must somehow find the passion not only to sample the government-directed teacher training roller coaster but to retain a vague memory of what our loved ones look like. Welcome to the real world of PGCE for those of us 30-somethings mad enough to want to teach.

The innocents during our first school placement were unaware of our fraud, which we endeavoured to perpetrate again after half- term. Amazingly, there were no cries of, "This teacher is a cardboard cut-out photocopied from a recently published scheme of work".

Having the usual bulging PGCE student saddlebag of tasks to complete, my partner and I accomplished one by extracting pupils' ideas about scientists. These were few, as it turned out, mostly involving bald men in white coats brandishing magnifying glasses and the odd test tube. Confusingly, neither f us two scientists fits this category. I sense an impending identity crisis as we scour respective homes for moth-eaten lab coats.

At college it is show time - dropped into a sweet shop world of pick-and-mix core and foundation, which we stir, digest and carry home in ever-increasing volume. This is the land of boom and bust, of enthusiasm and exhilaration, tempered with runny nose, hacking cough and mind-bending exhaustion.

No, I don't wish to discuss just how much work I should be doing as I escape to write this piece. No, I don't want even the tiniest peep at the pile of papers and stacks of books which I have strategically positioned just out of sight. This is my Friday nightI or is that Thursday? Trouble is, it will never be mine again. It will be theirs; my class of 30-something innocents next year will possess it, demanding that I create new and inspiring lesson plans as I reproduce that facsimile of a teacher yet again. Pass me my file, would you? Family, who are they?

Alison Narracott is a PGCE student at Oxford Brookes University

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