Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nuggets of Info - College Course

I'm just about coming to the end of my second year in college as I write this, and I suppose it helps to inform people of what I actually study. I don't think I've ever explicitly said it on my blog, mainly because my friends already know. But the rest of my readers might not be so familiar.

It's a four year course, for a start. I study three different subjects: Education, Religion and English. The Education part of it is about child psychology, teaching methodologies, the Irish curriculum in Religion and my chosen elective - English - and a number of other areas that I have not yet had the experience of studying.

During the four years, we undergo six periods of Teaching Practice. In first year, we have a brief period of teaching very short micro-lessons to primary school kids. In second year, we head out to primary schools for two weeks; we teach two Religion classes a day, and one elective class a day. In third year, we have another period of teaching micro-lessons, this time to secondary school students. Following that, we head out to secondary schools for three weeks. I'm no entirely sure of the teaching hours, but it's mainly Junior Cycle students we teach. Come fourth year, there's this lovely experience of going back to our "home" schools for two weeks to teach. That means we teach in whatever school we studied in. Later that year, we have four weeks in another school, usually in a disadvantaged area where the students are less academically minded, trouble makers, generally difficult and/or from a "lower-class" family. The combination is different for each set of pupils. I've heard good things and bad things about these schools, but generally the pupils are okay to teach when you get past the difficulties. And that's the point: the difficulties. It's supposed to be a challenge, and to stop us thinking we'll all be teaching at private schools where the students can't afford to mess about.

Naturally, while I'm there, I won't be announcing the personal details of my pupils online. I'm not that stupid.

As regards my English modules, I have four a year for the four years. This is generally divided up to include: Prose, Film, Poetry and Drama. In first year, it was a Varieties of Fiction module, Adaptations from Fiction to Film, Victorian and Modernist Poetry and Modern Irish Drama. Things got a little more complicated this year. Come fourth year, we'll be studying Ulysses in depth, as well as Moby Dick. It's going to be thrilling stuff. In the Film modules, in my experience to date, we have to write a journal based on what we saw. This is a long but generally enjoyable task. I like looking at the films in detail. It helps I go to the cinema almost every week!

For Religion, we have all sorts of modules, covering: scripture, Church history, liturgy, ethics and philosophy. There are seven or eight modules a year for Religion, some of them interesting, some of them downright boring. Religion is the main topic we have to study. Mind you, my description of it is still only limited to what I've studied. In the future, there will be chances to study Greek, Hebrew, Feminist theology, World Religions and a number of other equally exciting subjects. I am sure the fourth years can attest to having a great time sitting their lectures...

And that's my experience of college. I mean, obviously I do more than just go to class and write essays (lots of essays), but this is what my college course is like. It's full of lectures, full of different topics, and we generally go to twice as many lectures as some other colleges do, looking at a whole range of material that we haven't always heard about. It's interesting, but also challenging. And our library doesn't always have the books we need for our course. Just saying.

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