I don’t know about my fellow trainees, but I put a lot of thought into the age group I wanted to teach eventually. I wonder if most of us ‘just know’ which is the right level for us or if everyone puts lots of thought into it or if some trainee/aspiring teachers really struggle to find their niche.
These factors influenced me greatly:
1. My age. Although I love little kids and can’t wait to be a grandma and love the sticking and gluing, teaching to read, write, early maths, building, nursery rhymes and all of that I think I’m a bit past it to be doing that every day. But also my reasons for disregarding early years link into my second factor:
2. My specialism. I’ve amassed years of experience in a range of business settings and in a range of roles and I wanted to pass on that experience to other people. I can’t really see pre-schoolers or the very young being overly enthused about supply and demand and marketing planning. I also feel that my experience of recruitment and selection is valuable to those who are seeking to go into work or to find direction for future careers. This is already leading me towards older teens or adults.
3. My education. I found that I struggled to be motivated after my basic education. I found the freedom of having left school and being old enough to go to work if I chose, the state of semi independence from my parents meant that I could do what I wanted and unfortunately that wasn’t always what was best for me. I noted that my peers struggled too and many of them abandoned education and training and settled for an extension of their Saturday job and many of them are still doing that today. I was ambitious but didn’t have the push I needed from parents or from teachers and so I finished my A levels and drifted from education and didn’t return for a number of years. I finally started studying for my first degree in 2000 when I was 32. As a mother I observed the same thing happening with my daughter and many of her friends who I nudged back onto the tracks. I felt that this was a key age where young adults need inspiring, they need encouraging, they need a little push in the right direction to get the best for their future. I thought this was where I would probably be most useful as a teacher, before university and after school.
4. My children. I have two children one is almost 21 and the other 14 and I see the frustrations they had in the state school system as high achievers. I saw how they were let down by the system in schools which sought to achieve average status for most and where above average happened because of genetics and parental efforts. I see how they struggled having been raised as individuals to fit into what one of them calls “robot factory philosophy” and I didn’t want to be a part of that. I look at things I don’t like and ask myself “if I got involved in that in any way could I change it at all?” and if the answer is “no” or the answer is “I don’t think I’d have the energy, drive or commitment to” then I leave well alone. I feel that we are lucky to have such good free education in this country but it’s a one size fits all approach and I’m not the sort of person who believes in squashing round pegs into square holes. Secondary didn’t appeal. I feel there is a little more ‘give’ in FE and even more in HE.
5. My academic knowledge. So ultimately really I was left with two choices FE or HE (besides other more niche teaching like prisons, overseas etc which are things I’m thinking of for the future). I felt that as a teacher with a level 7 PGCE and a degree in Business Management and half a degree (long story) in Social and Behavioral Studies that I wasn’t equipped academically to teach in HE. I would personally prefer a teacher who had a greater level of knowledge or experience of a subject than I was expected to achieve. I know this isn’t always what everyone wants but personally I want to feel as if I have really consolidated my learning and really delved deep into academia before I start teaching anyone else. So that ruled out HE although I do feel that my level of management experience does stand me in good stead to add value to that area and am going on to a Masters so HE could be the future.
FE it was and this feels right to me intuitively too.
It’d be interesting to hear how others arrived at their decision.