Module 1 of PGCEi through Nottingham is on Educational Aims and Values. I’ve shared an overview and some tips for the module here.
I mentioned the assessment criteria for the module:
- A 1000-word piece of process work outlining your own educational beliefs and values.
- A 4000-word assignment in which you critique a model of schooling based on those values.
Here is the task for the process work (if it’s still the same from a few years ago):
I enjoyed this part for sure of the module. Here are a few things to consider when writing your 1000 words…
First person is okay
I said before that it’s a like a diary entry. I used a lot of first person, which did feel unusual but kinda hard to avoid when reflecting on your own values. So, just embrace that I guess.
Rant a bit
This process is reflective and cathartic. You can say things in ways that wouldn’t normally cut it in academic writing. You can make fleeting remarks about stakeholders in your context, or play devil’s advocate with ideas from the reading to see other sides and consolidate understanding.
Process work is NOT your assignment
You can afford to do this (in limited space of course) because you are not tied to writing about the same content in your actual assignment. Some of my process work was directly relevant to my assignment, some of it wasn’t. I still wanted to say all the stuff that wasn’t as relevant somewhere though – it was playing on my mind and blocking me from honing in on my focus for the actual assignment. The process work offers a chance to do that AND gain some feedback on it, so it’s really useful.
Think of process work as an extension of the forum
It’s a great chance to gather your thoughts on the module reading. You are encouraged to reflect on what you’ve read and how this has shaped your understanding of your own educational values. However, you’ve been doing that through the module forum anyway, unless that’s been a tick-box exercise for you. I’d recommend (if you didn’t write your forum comments in your commonplace book first) copying all your posts from the forum into a doc, rereading them and drawing out themes. When I did this, I noticed a couple of things:
- I’d come back to Bottery’s educational codes quite a bit in the forums, so the idea was clearly something I valued
- I’d also come back to Gert Biesta’s thoughts on education A LOT, so these were clearly something I needed to draw upon for the essay
- ‘The absent curriculum’ had popped up a few times in my comments, and this was certainly something that linked to my professional practice at the time
All I’m saying really is that you’re not gathering thoughts from scratch, your collecting thoughts you’ve already had – so make sure you go back and look at them!
Notice the emphasis on experience
It says in the module task that ‘you must demonstrate how your values have been critically informed by your experiences, reading (during module 1)… and engagement in the literature’.
Note that they mention experiences first, and that it’s ‘experiences’.
- Don’t forget that your educational values may have come from your time as a learner as well as an educator
- Don’t forget that (practice wise) your current teaching context is not the whole story, your values will have been shaped by past teaching experiences too
- Don’t forget that your experiences are not just classroom experiences. Think about the bigger picture such as the ethos of the institutions you’ve worked for, constraints you may have faced, knowledge of different models of education and how you feel about them, how your values accommodate (or have accommodated) the views of other stakeholders such as learners, parents, etc. Also how aspects of your identity may have shaped your educational values (class, race, nationality, etc).
I’m not saying you need to think about all those things, and you’ll likely narrow things down given space limitations. I’m just suggesting that it’s important to look beyond immediate experience.
Note the year of Claxton’s quote. PGCEi’s didn’t even exist then (as far as I’m aware). Was the model of teacher training that Claxton was familiar with perhaps more rigid? Research into teacher identities, especially international school teacher identities was perhaps more limited. We know this from the key reading on the course, such as Bailey and Cooker’s ‘Key concepts in research’ paper.
The teachers entering international education come from a range of backgrounds and have varied experiences. Based on my cohort, most had years of classroom experience already. Suggesting their personal learning theories may be variously idiosyncratic makes sense, but variously ‘unexamined’ ‘archaic’, ‘simplistic’, ‘rigid’, ‘intuitive’? Meh – the ‘variously’ hedge there doesn’t do enough for me. The task is to respond to Claxton’s quote – I say critique it, as it wasn’t designed to be used in the context of international teacher training.
Anyhow, there’s some food for thought as you’re writing your process work! Good luck. Best of luck in particular to my colleague Paul, who I know is working on his right now!
One final thought: It’s only pass/fail.