First encounters

23rd February 2001 at 00:00
Lesley Marwood is tempted to swap courses.

Of course most people think about it. Not in depth, but the idea certainly crosses your mind, especially when you're surrounded by a group of admiring five-year-olds whose dearest wish is to "sit next to you please, Miss". I defy any secondary PGCE student not to have thought - briefly - about changing to primary teaching while doing their initial primary school experience.

You see, everything at primary school just seems, well, less complicated.

The maths, for example. I'm not blessed with a maths brain, but counting backwards from 20 and doing halves of numbers up to 10 was, somehow, rewarding.

And then there's literacy. You can't help feeling excited when little Danny, who looks barely old enough to dress himself, gets to the end of "Kipper's diary" without so much as a stutter. Primary school brings out the sentimental side of me. I spent the first week thinking "bless them", while helping tie their shoelaces, putting their coats on and doig PE with them.

While I can't find it in my heart to tell little blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jessie off because she "can't be bothered to do any work", I have no such qualms when dealing with stroppy adolescents.

But then discipline does not seem to be a problem with infants. I'm not tall, but I tower over these pupils and that gives me an edge straight away. Couple this with age and your undoubted wealth of experience, and you appear the epitomy of authority.

You begin to question your sanity. Why would you want to swap all this for 30 11-year-olds and "der, die und das". A friend reassures me that I will feel similarly enamoured by the secondary school placements, but I'm not so sure.

All too soon, this primary experience is finished. Clutching cards and pictures the children have given me, and with cries of "you'll be wasted at secondary school" ringing in my ears, I walk away from its comforting environment.

Lesley Marwood is a secondary PGCE student at York University

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