My previous post included some tips on how to approach the PGCEi Module 1 (Nottingham) process work. This post moves on to the assignment itself. A reminder that the process work was…
- A 1000-word piece of process work outlining your own educational beliefs and values.
And the assignment is…
- A 4000-word assignment in which you critique a model of schooling based on those values.
So, 4000 words to play with. I got a Distinction for my assignment so there might be a few suggestions in this post that set you on the right path. However, do read with caution. I am not a tutor and can only share my personal experience, not ‘official guidance’.
Start with an introduction that frames the assignment
I might be stating the obvious, but a) use the intro to signpost essay stages, and b) highlight context and explain important acronyms early if poss.
- In this assignment I will critique BLAH BLAH
- I will begin by framing some of my own beliefs and values related to education
- I will relate these values to practice
- I will then critique my current model of international schooling in relation to my values
Outline your own educational values
Begin by providing a short statement summarizing your core educational values. I’m sure you’ll find this pretty tricky to write as I’d say it’s hard for any educator to reduce their educational philosophy down to such key details. Still, that the assignment task…
Here’s my example:
Word your statement carefully. Make sure everything you say can be clearly justified and purposeful. Ask yourself questions as you construct this statement:
Why did I say ‘actively want to learn’ instead of just ‘want to learn’?
What is the learning journey beyond and around formal schooling?
Why refer to educators/learners as agents? Am I tapping into the literature/theory somehow there?
Why knowledge, skills and traits? What traits?
Then spend the next few paragraphs attempting to unpack all that.
- Hone in on the wording and try to expand on it.
- Relate your statement to the literature from the course and beyond where possible!
- Critique your own statement too. Concede that not all your beliefs may be evidence-based/backed.
Key reads for this section:
- Bottery’s educational codes
- Gert Biesta’s philosophy of education
- Certain learning theories if they relate to your overarching values (say Montessori for example, or Freire)
Outline your subject or area-specific values of education
The first section is more about your general educational values. After that, focus more on your values in relation to a more specific context. Examples:
- Outline your educational values in the context of international primary schooling
- Outline your educational values in the context of delivering certain curricula like IB
- Outline your educational values in the context of teaching EFL (I did that)
I found this useful for a few reasons. It helps to highlight conflict and tensions between your overarching values and those within your narrower field of focus. It shows that you recognize how fluid your educational values might be, and it might also help to draw out your TRUE ‘constants’ – those non-negotiable educational values of yours that are present regardless of context.
I took the same approach as the previous section – write a statement of values, then unpack it.
Key reading for this section will vary depending on context
Link your general and specific values to actual real-world teaching
Outlining your educational values is fundamental to the assignment, but they can read as a bit fluffy. I think it’s important to outline how those values might play out in an actual educational setting. For example, I think you could mention the following:
- How might your values shape the ethos of a school?
- What impact might your values have on a curriculum?
- How might they shape the school environment?
- What type of learner / parent / other stakeholders might share your values?
Etc. I guess this section kind of answers the question ‘What do my values look like?’
I linked my values to three different area of schooling (above, in bold). For each one I did this:
Etc. Once you outline your ‘values in action’ (lol), clearly link them back to the core values you mentioned in the previous sections. E.g.
In my statement of values I mentioned that education should result in a desire to learn. I feel that giving learners input into the learning content (see curriculum point 1) will my result in a feeling of ownership and lead to more engagement…
And you can back this up with research if needed.
*PAGE BREAK! I’d say all the above is a quite chunky ‘Part 1’ to the assignment.
On to Part Two…*
Summarise your current context and model of international schooling
- Introduce your school or institution. Pick out key info on their philosophy and approach from their mission statement.
- Talk about their implied ethos or values based on curriculums they follow. For example, you can learn quite a bit about a school just by whether they follow a curriculum like IB
- Frame the identity of your school based on the literature…
Move on to looking at how the school values are realized in the educational setting – the curriculum, the school environment, etc
- Note, try to be as objective as possible here. For example, if you are looking at the curriculum of the school, look more at the content as it is intended to be delivered according to syllabus documents. Don’t fall into the trap of critiquing everything straight away at it will seem biased. Facts first if possible.
- Give objective evidence (if possible) of constraints and freedoms, such as whether teachers are given autonomy over curriculum content, whether the school environment can be adapted, etc.
- Mention external factors impacting the school such as government legislation (ie. ‘You must include certain curricula content’), stakeholder expectations (e.g. parents!), etc.
Now critique the model of schooling based on your values
- Relate the institution values directly to your core values and see how well they align.
- Where there might be conflicts between your values versus those of the school, describe your feelings towards this on balance.
Your values as realized within the actual setting
- Explain how well the school curriculum, environment, and the other more practical/tangible/physical realisations of your institution’s values align with your own beliefs.
- Where they don’t, describe the conflicts and perhaps how they are overcome
- Mention the constraints and freedoms within your current model of schooling, and how they may/may not allow you to shape the model of schooling to better fit with your own values. Refer to external factors now but in practice and in your personal experience.
Share an overview of your findings and perhaps draw out a theme or a take-home point, such as:
- ‘While my own values and those of the school align well in principle, the way teachers are expected to deliver learning is not an accurate realization of these values.’
- ‘My own educational values cannot be truly realized in my current educational context, although I am happy to adapt to the values expected by the school as … meh, they’re alright.’
Refer back to some of the literature as you reflect on the model of schooling. Pick out something else you read on the course that seems to make more sense now.
This critique has helped me to…
Through this assignment I have realized that…
As I said, this is one way to approach things that did work. Feel free to get in touch to chat through your ideas 😊
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