Student talk

12th June 2009 at 01:00

Today I bought tickets for my "graduation" and attended a lecture on how to write a personal statement - both significant milestones pointing in opposite directions. One signals that my life as a student teacher is almost over, and the other relentlessly moves me onwards to probation and beyond.

I might have guessed that we would not be allowed to stand still and enjoy the view for more than a few moments, even at the end of this frantically compact PGDE course. The lecturer spent two hours in a sweltering hall explaining how we could identify our "unique combination of strengths".

I understand that this will hopefully help me get a job, if there are any after probation. But all I could think about was fresh air, so it was a relief to head outdoors and join some fellow post-grads on the lawn. Momentarily, I was transported back 16 months to a winter morning when I crunched across this same university park, heading for my PGDE interview. I remember looking across the snowy grounds and having a vision of life as a student; I imagined leisurely afternoons sitting in sunshine, enjoying learned conversations Educating Rita style.

Of course, anyone who knows anything about teacher training could have told me that I was seriously deluded. I found out for myself quick enough. Leisure is not a landmark on the PGDE road map. The journey does not involve any tootling along country lanes. PGDE cartographers know only how to draw motorways, and for a year, students are locked into fifth gear, hurtling along in the outside lane. (There is so much to learn, that this approach, while extremely tough, is absolutely necessary when you only have a year - and to be fair, we were warned.)

But I digress - that was then and this was now! Here I was enjoying some free time, outdoors AND in glorious sunshine. My vision had finally been realised . minus the intellectual bit. I sat chatting with my new friends and Vygotsky was never mentioned. We talked instead about our real lives: about watching the Oscar-winning film we missed (Slumdog Millionaire on DVD); about a weekend BBQ; about donning protective clothing and cleaning the long-neglected bathroom.

I realised that we had, without realising it, already moved on. Final placement is finished and we have all been allocated a council for our probation year. The lives we stepped out of voluntarily 10 months ago beckon invitingly, for the summer at least. I know that come August, it will be time to hit the road again, but until then, I plan to enjoy chugging along behind the holiday caravans.

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