I’m not the best person probably to give advice but I’ll share anyway. I recently stumbled on something 14-year-old me said that well they wanted to be a nursery teacher yup I said that out loud for the world on Radio – well West of Scotland to hear at one point (if you know you know, if you don’t, ask and I may share).
Point is I wanted to be a nursery teacher and then got told at some point in school nah you should aim higher as you are too brainy for that sort of job. I went into 5th year not knowing then what I should do and well grasped at straws during 6th year, then when UCAS time came around (yes kids UCAS was around then and at that time cost £15) I was thrown into well what are you applying for and why aren’t you going to Uni open days so I clung to the only thing I enjoyed – Maths and applied to universities for that. It was short lived, and I ended up dropping out of uni and going to do voluntary work with Stepping Stones for Families (did a few months with awesome folk working with kids). Life moved on and well children and a job later then I moved back to study. I chose Computing as that’s what caught me during my work life. Small matter of earnings which I thought was important at that time – kind of was as when computing guy left work it was me who got asked questions and yeah, I was nowhere near the scale this guy was getting paid. Computing/gaming has always been an interest of mine from when I was a kid (we were the first family in the street to have a Spectrum despite being in a very less affluent area). This moved through computer games and my younger brother getting consoles to finally me studying at school about it. So anyway, back to uni I went and lo and behold landed a job – degree then PhD studies – 8 years ago lecturing (3 years into the PhD). I’d like to give the Disney story of happy ever after but yeah got the first job which was only a few hours a week which soon mounted to 2 jobs and more hours. Granted not being full time suited as by this point, I was a single parent to 3 school aged children. At one point I was working 4 different jobs teaching however while this sounds awful gave me experience and one that’s probably a bit rarer as I was able to work in college and university concurrently and so saw the path my college students chose. In one case I ended up teaching students at uni that I had taught at college. While this may sound odd it was a great insight for me and I was able to share that with colleagues from both institutions to help inform progression which I still try to share to this date.
Ok so I have digressed a little (well a lot) why is any of this important. Honestly, I don’t know until you read that statement of “you are too brainy for that type of job” I have my sister-in-law (and her sister) who would strongly disagree on that and I would now as well. Like why would I be too brainy? How is that even a thing? Sorry, but shaping the future must be THE most important job? I’ve seen what nursery teachers do, it’s not just play, play, play. There’s so much more thought behind what that play is and preparing them for what comes next. It’s not just leave them to it but so much thought and care goes into nurturing your child and well every child in that room. That goes for all teachers I’m not saying other stage teachers are less important as everyone plays their part in shaping education however nursery teachers are our children’s first interactions with any form of education. I know only too well how important all my girls nursery education was to them – granted they all had varying experience my oldest went when she was 3, middle 2 and youngest 16 months. But it was so important to them all.
I have only really appreciated how wrong that statement was in the past few years as I have become responsible for students coming through our courses. I would never dream of telling a student that their choice is based on their intellect (how can you fully even judge anyway – every student is unique and has their own interests, so we all don’t get the same version of that student). Some students open up only when they are fully invested in a particular area that really captures them and if its not something you teach then that’s fine you are still part of their journey and still need to ensure they do their best. As an example, I teach 3D modelling to HND Games students and it’s a bit of a marmite thing. For those who love it they are invested and may apply to uni to study 3D work. For those who hate it – they have gained a whole new appreciation of the 3D artists out there and see the bigger picture of how the games development process works. There’s a certain frustration in 3D work that sends students either way. But that doesn’t mean anyone gives up far from it. Those who don’t like it don’t just give up they try their hardest and work on their project but get a sense of relief when it’s handed in and over and done with. However, it at least shapes the understanding of the whole process that all parts (design, art & programming) are needed to create that game – as well as planning and getting things documented. For me what I’m trying to say is no matter what your student wants to study never discourage them. Even if you, yourself have no confidence or knowledge in the subject area your student want’s to pursue then find out more don’t just dismiss it. Did you know even from a young age girls are put off subjects like maths due to teacher confidence in the subject. So yeah ask your local college/university even ask the question on Twitter but don’t just dismiss what your student wants to study as something they can’t do as they are to intelligent for or just because you don’t know. Heck when I was a kid being a games lecturer wasn’t a thing to be fair we did at least have a computer in the P7 class (classic BBC Micro)!!