Shalini Patabiraman PGDE student

PGDE Secondary Education - English Shalini Pattabiraman, India

In movement we learn forever!

I think human life is in constant oscillation and deeply involved in communicating experiences through symbols, gestures and stories. In some ways that makes us all lifelong learners because every moment we are experiencing something that results in awareness or observation.

At the same time, it turns us all into story tellers because we are constantly trying to share these experiences we have had. One form of this expression is in the shape of literature that offers a mirror to life, relationships, time, society (in its state of flux or transition), perception of self, human development, et al. Examples of such expression can be found in art, architecture, photography, music, movies, design, culture, costume, and technology as well.

In my quest for sampling life and discovering a unique way to express myself, I landed up dabbling with a career in marketing that led to journalism and eventually teaching. This exposure put me in a position to view communication from different perspectives and I have been able to apply it creatively in my role as a facilitator.

My teaching journey started in 2002 when I joined the Julia Gabriel Centre for Learning and found drama in education as a pedagogical tool. Julia my mentor and teacher offered me a philosophy and approach that resonated completely. I believe education is a gift and a privilege that everyone must have access to. As a teacher I facilitate that process and make learning accessible through ideas that are fun and engaging. When I relocated to Scotland from Singapore in 2017, it became apparent that I had to undergo a PGDE to continue doing what I loved doing.

Coming from the education sector, I found the PGDE programme at Strathclyde offered a fantastic module in educational perspectives and policies (EPP). These not only stimulated my thinking but became the bulwark for understanding context of education in Scotland. Scotland is a beautiful country with a rich heritage and a complex history. Teaching in a new environment demands that I understand the place, its people and their narrative. The EPP lectures gave me that and much more. The writing of an essay on equality in education, led to many discoveries but primarily it gave me the narrative that explained education in Scotland. The idea of social justice and sustainability throughout this narrative speaks to me just like Julia’s philosophy did. It reinforced some of the things I knew through academic study while it made me aware of many new things that I wasn’t aware of.

The placement experience was intense and fantastic. I had great mentors and both teams at the schools where I was placed went out of their way to support and guide me. I had so many questions and sometimes I asked them of more than one person, but they all answered and responded very positively. I discovered a lot through these dialogues and conversations at the workplace and I would encourage future participants to do the same.

The experience of what we take with us from any course depends on our personalities. The course is there as a stimulus to engage with the ideas. The rest of the process is in our hands. What we do with that idea, how we explore it and experiment with it is something we need to try and find out. Learning is a continuous process and no matter how experienced one is there is always something new and meaningful to learn when observing others and reflecting on our own work. Constructive feedback through the placement experience both from mentors and from University tutors during the observations ensured this journey was well-supported.