Monday, July 14, 2014

What I Studied At College

Anyone who knows me can pretty much skip this post entirely. It'll be of no interest to you to read about my college studies.

I won't go through a year-by-year analysis of modules and courses, but I can break it down into three major categories: Religion, English, and Education.

The Religion aspect of my Undergrad degree covers:
- Church history,
- Liturgy,
- Scripture,
- Philosophy,
- Ethics, and
- World religions.

What that meant was trying to balance my strengths and weaknesses across several completely different fields in an effort to attain the best possible grade for Religion overall. As it happens, the history and scripture modules were always my worst in terms of grades. I put it down to (a) the amount of material and (b) the marking style of the lecturers. It's a known fact that grades at third level vary according to the student doing the writing, and the lecturer doing the correcting.

All in all, it was interesting. I loved the Religion and Science module we had in third year, and surprised myself with a high grade in one of the scripture exams in first year. And, it's safe to say, I'll never want to be examined in Religion as a field of study - like that, anyway - ever again.

The English aspect of the degree was split into:
- Fiction,
- Poetry,
- Theatre, and
- Film.

Yes, we got to watch movies as part of our lectures. Yes, it was fun. And, if you did the same course as I did, it was all scarring. Blue Velvet is just one of the prescribed texts that will forever haunt me.

The English lectures were my favourites by far, because they focused on my longest-standing interest. While I came to enjoy Religion and Education lectures, I had always been excited about what we were studying in English, whether it was Shakespeare, Tragedy, Epic and Romantic Poetry, or Adaptations - even if I had no interest in reading the text, I loved learning about them.

The Education aspect of the degree was split more dramatically than anything else into two sub-categories: theory, and practice. The theory consisted of learning about the history of education, child psychology, methodology, and other such things that are Department-prescribed. The practical aspect of it... well... did I ever tell you the story about someone throwing a table at me in the middle of class?

I won't name names, but it happened. It's my horror story. It was a one-off event, in a heated situation, and I had to learn on the spot how to handle that - because no amount of theory of education can prepare you for the real thing!

Teaching practice was, and will probably always be, the most difficult and formative experience of my life as a student. I couldn't just talk to the students blankly about the topics - which usually covered someone I might have studied myself in college. I had to figure out how to make it interesting and engaging and relevant to them - even if that meant asking them, openly, what was the first thing they thought of when they thought of Muslims? (I won't lie, 9/11 and terrorism were offered as answers most of the time, a fact of which they were ashamed. Don't worry, I set them straight during my time as their teacher - they really didn't know any better.)

Of course, that was just my Undergrad degree. From September onwards, I'll be entering the world of the Masters, with war stories from the classroom to share with people when we're introducing ourselves to one another!

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