How to know and love Doubt, Fear and Anger
Calling all PGCE students! Stop what you're doing. Put your pens down and look this way. I'm waitingI I don't want to have to raise my voiceI Look, if you want to stay after school to talk about this, that's fine by me! Thank you. That's better. Now, if you could all just relax please.
They were right, back in week one, when they said this course would be crazy. It's easy to lose touch when your head is full of lesson plans and cognitive theory.
But look how far we've come. We've met lots of weird and wonderful children and even weirder, more wonderful teachers. We've stood in rowdy classrooms and not known what the hell to do to calm things down.
We've broken photocopiers and burnt out OHPs. We've got lost on our way to class and had to be shown the way by a Year 7 kid who has only been in school a few days longer than us.
We've also broken up fights, stopped kids snogging in the hallways, and been asked extremely personal questions about our sex lives by Year 9. We've even faced harsh criticism from Year 11 for our dress sense and taste in music.
The list is endless. And then there are the essays, the pupil profiles, the assignments written late at night, linguistics, philosophy, syllabuses, curricula, SEN, NQT, GCSE, AEB, the Internet, ICT, numeracy; 1,2,3, literacy; a, b, cI When I first went to college, my parents gave me the following advice: don't have too much sex, don't drink too much and don't go talking to any religious weirdos who might carry you off to join some cult. Words of wisdom.
Parental advice aside, I had no problems with the sex and alcohol bits - universities were reat at teaching those subjects back in the Eighties - but, 10 years later, I am beginning to worry that I might finally have been sucked into a cult: the Cult of Education.
Think about it. The PGCE course is classic cult territory. They get you when you're vulnerable, impressionable, full of idealism and wanting to change the world. They tell you the way is steep and harsh; that there will be times when you'll cry out for help in the wilderness. But don't worry: your mentor will be there to guide you.
Like Yoda training Skywalker to be a Jedi, the PGCE course deprives you of sleep, makes you run about the swamp carrying heavy bags full of books and files, tempts you with Fear, Doubt and Anger and encourages you to trust your own instincts, perhaps for the first time in your life.
Then there is the Dark Side. You start eating badly, sleeping worse, getting irritable. You lose your friends - they can no longer understand you when you start babbling at parties about differentiation, Piaget and Vigotsky - and you lose your family, unless they were teachers themselves, in which case you are really in trouble.
Before long you are immersed in the Cult of Education. You are already a teacher. You think about it day and night. You have become a reflective practitioner - and its wonderful!
For those of you out there who are feeling as fried as I am, take heart; we're more than a third of the way through the course. And if you are really clever, like me, and have wangled a QTS target which demands a more bearable pace than last term, well done. We've almost cracked it.
Jon Croose is studying for a PGCE at Bristol University