Tell us a bit about your background.
Born in Edinburgh, formative years were spent in Aberdeen. On leaving school I spent a year teaching English as a second language in Sri Lanka before returning to take up a place training at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). Gaining a BA (Hons) in Contemporary Theatre Practice, I continued to work in the theatre industry for nearly 15 years, running my own company, directing youth theatre and working for several established theatre arts organisations across Scotland.
Philosophy has long been an interest of mine and I continued studying at Aberdeen followed by Stirling University, gaining a Certificate in Philosophy.
What inspired you to study an Education degree?
A lot of my theatre work involved working with the Education sector. This led me in due course to decide to change career to become a primary teacher. While I was keen to work towards a Masters through doing the PGDE, I had not decided on any specific area to focus on. However, I was inspired to learn more on hearing about the Philosophy with Children module, having always had an interest in this area.
Becoming a primary teacher means more than just being a teacher: I can share my expertise in theatre arts, and now facilitate philosophical inquiry with children, making the vocation of being teacher ever more fulfilling and rounded.
What has been the highlight of your time at Strathclyde?
One lecture I vividly remember was Prof Claire Cassidy’s introduction to PwC during the PGDE. What came from this undoubtedly means that studying PwC and being awarded an MEd has been the highlight of my time at Strathclyde. It has also been an opportunity to meet incredible people and make valuable new friendships. I continue to use PwC weekly with my class, and plan to continue to apply it, be it as a class teacher, or as a teacher/facilitator in other contexts.
What would be your advice for people considering taking this course?
PGDE: This is not a walk in the park! While it can be all consuming, give time for yourself. Further to this – don’t expect to know it all. As an established teacher of 7 years, I’m forever learning and recognise that teaching is not knowing the curriculum inside out but knowing what you need to know to draw the full potential from your pupils.
Philosophy with Children: I could not recommend this enough. How it benefits children’s critical and reflexive thinking skills, and the care and creativity they share in exploring complex ideas, always amazes me. Further, it enables me as a practitioner to listen better to what children talk about when exploring ideas – be they philosophical, mathematical or on a subject or topic we are doing in class.
Tell us a little bit about where you work now and your responsibilities.
I currently work as a class teacher (P6) in an inspiring village school in Argyll & Bute.
What specialist knowledge/professional skills have you developed whilst studying the course?
Most obviously, the pedagogical knowledge regarding the Philosophy with Children practice. The skills are immensely transferable – such as active listening and creative and critical thinking skills – across a host of curricular areas. Furthermore, I have also published work, having co-authored an article with Prof Cassidy, drawn from my MEd dissertation, for the peer-reviewed British Journal of Religious Education.
What did you think of the support available at Strathclyde?
The support from tutors on the PGDE was excellent. The rigorous, honest and constructive feedback during placements I found really supportive. The support given throughout the MEd was in-depth, enabling me to be ever more reflective, and constructively challenge my ideas. Ultimately, I was enabled to push myself further than I would have imagined. I continue to value the support and friendship I have made with academic staff and others at the University.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I would love to do a PhD / EdD in Philosophy with Children in due course. In the meantime, to find opportunities to facilitate and support the practice of PwC beyond my classroom – preferably through my association with the University of Strathclyde. This year I also plan to do Education Scotland’s Aspiring to Middle Leadership Programme.