New names for old tricks

14th March 2008 at 00:00
Wow, aren't you brave. Well done you." Eyebrows shoot up and a genuine look of amazement and incredulity spreads across their faces. This is the reaction I receive from friends and neighbours when I tell them of my new venture.

Am I about to circumnavigate the globe in a dinghy or learn to juggle blazing torches? No. At 48 I have just begun my PGCE course in secondary education.

Well, it did take courage to apply and I was apprehensive about being 25 years older than most of my colleagues - and even some of the teachers and lecturers. But I have no regrets yet. After all, I have brought up four children, run a business and have lashings of life experience, which must count for something.

And then there were the lectures. What joy. While younger students bemoaned the length and tedium of some sessions, I was enjoying every syllable. What luxury to sit and be enlightened in a truly interesting subject. And you know what? It all made sense.

How could I have reached such mature years without hearing the names of philosophers of education such as Skinner, Vygotsky, Piaget and Bruner? And yet their philosophies have been active throughout my life. I have been familiar with differentiation within my own family since my oldest child was diagnosed with dyslexia and my younger twin boys' reading age exceeded hers by years.

When literature arrived from the student union about the latest bands, cocktail happy hours and half-price McSomething burgers, my children laughed at the thought of Mum strutting her stuff at the freshers' ball - so I was relieved when my post-grad colleagues, in their ripe old mid-20s, considered themselves far too mature for such antics.

There was the embarrassing occasion when a caretaker mistook me for the subject leader, but luckily everyone's sense of humour was intact.

This old dog has discovered that many shiny new tricks are actually cleverly packaged old ones with new names. "Every Child Matters" - thank goodness I have waited so long to come into the profession if it was not always true.

Kate Sanger-Davies is a student teacher at the University of Gloucestershire.

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