Education and its place in our society is a topic that is constantly making headlines. In recent decades, efforts have been made to transition towards improved assessment methods, technology is increasingly being harnessed to deliver more personal learning to students, and access to materials is at an all time high. Long gone is the stern image of the teacher of old. Instead, rather than actively ‘teach’, educators are encouraged to be ‘facilitators of knowledge’, handing the main responsibility of learning to the students themselves, on the premise that independent thinking and problem solving skills are allowed to be cultivated in students from a young age.
A new era of teaching practice has been unfolding, with more engaging lessons, innovative methods and a greater focus on creativity and critical thinking in the classroom. This is an exciting time to enter the teaching profession, as further developments are in sight for the future.
But these innovative uses of technology and pedagogy aside, a school’s greatest resource remains its teachers. In a way they are the foundations of our society and nation. Good teachers can inspire, educate and empower students to grow into forerunners in their chosen profession and become an asset to themselves and their society. Although it has its challenges, teaching is undeniably one of the most rewarding vocations, and good teachers will always be in demand.
Studying the theory of education is both fascinating and eye opening for training teachers, and the theories are constantly being tested and developed. Furthermore, different schools of thought exist, and all teachers will have their own preferred methods and practices of teaching, depending on their specific classroom needs and their own strengths as a teacher. Studying a degree in education will expose you to these different ideas, and allow you to develop your own practices in teaching to the optimum level.
What will you study?
Students can expect to learn about education as a discipline, through a lens of cultural, economic, and social progress, all of which have led to practices of education in our current, globalised world. Education is an interdisciplinary degree, so expect a broad syllabus combining psychology, sociology, philosophy and history. Theory is only half of the coin in an education degree and there is strong emphasis on practical learning. Students usually undertake a placement in their second or third year, applying their knowledge to real classroom situations, often in local schools.
Some of the skills aspiring teachers can expect to gain are:
- Written and oral communication, through writing essays and teaching practice.
- Team working skills, through collaborative project work.
- Research skills and the ability to take in a large amount of information, analyse it and form a judgement around it.
- Time management and organisational skills, especially the ability to prioritise and ensure crucial social and academic commitments are carried out accurately and to tight deadlines.
- The ability to address sensitive issues surrounding your work and manage a position of responsibility, honouring confidentiality and discretion.
- A variety of IT skills.
Teaching is the obvious destination for Education students, but this in itself is an extremely broad field. Opportunities are available in primary and secondary schools, as well as specialised colleges, social work, community teaching and much more. For those wishing to continue education as an academic pursuit, areas to explore are policy making, psychology and research in academia.
https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/teaching-and-school-leadership – gov.uk teaching and school leadership
https://getintoteaching.education.gov.uk – Information on requirements and routes into teaching in the UK including funding options
http://www.oxfam.org.uk/education/whole-school/other-resources-and-support – Oxfam Education website
https://teachers.theguardian.com/resources.aspx – The Guardian Teacher Network
http://www.primaryresources.co.uk – Primary Teaching Resources
https://www.tes.com/teaching-resources – Lesson resources for all stages and levels
https://www.filmclub.org/about – Into Film – using film in education
https://www.ase.org.uk/home/ – Association for Science Education
http://itte.org.uk/wp/ – Association for Information Technology in Teacher Education
https://www.atm.org.uk – Association of Teachers of Mathematics
https://www.rsb.org.uk/education/teaching-resources – Royal Society of Biology teaching resources
http://www.siemens.co.uk/education/en/teachers/teaching-resources.htm – Siemens Education website teaching resources
https://education.scholastic.co.uk – Scholastic website with resources for teachers
http://www.discoveryeducation.com Discovery Education digital textbooks and resources
http://www.parliament.uk/education/teaching-resources-lesson-plans/ – Parliament UK general teaching resources
http://www.educationworld.com – Education World – articles related to education and free lesson plans
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education – BBC Education news
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news – Independent Education News
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/news/ – Telegraph Education News
https://www.theguardian.com/education – Guardian Education News