The undergraduate Education course at Cambridge isn’t teacher training! It’s a very interdisciplinary degree in which you follow one of three tracks, combining in-depth study of a particular field of interest with an examination of wider educational and social issues: Education, Psychology and Learning; Education, Policy and International Development; or Education, English, Drama and the Arts.
Are there any myths and misconceptions surrounding the Education course at Cambridge?
Yes! The greatest misconception that I have encountered is people thinking that because I am studying Education, I will necessarily become a teacher. The truth is that the course encompasses such a wide range of disciplines, from sociology to psychology, history and language, that it offers opportunities to pursue many different careers. This ranges from international development and NGOs, to the world of theatre and the arts and research in psychology and cognitive development. People are amazed when I tell them!
What about studying Education appealed to you?
When I was applying to university I did not know exactly what I wanted to study, and what I found special about studying Education was that I would be able to explore a wide range of social sciences in depth, while learning about a field that has direct implications in our everyday lives. This has been my favourite thing about it: I have acquired knowledge about things which affect me in many ways, while having had the time to discover what I am really interested in.
What is your faculty/department like?
First of all, I think that the Faculty of Education, housed in the Donald McIntyre building, is the prettiest that I have been to so far! It is modern and bright with a cosy wooden library which overlooks a garden, definitely worth the infamous 15 minute cycle ride from town to get here! The librarians are also very friendly: they make sure that we have found all the books we need and occasionally treat us with sweets and cakes, and the Faculty Library is one of the few that will not charge us if we happen to hand books in late.
What types of work do you have to do?
I write on average one essay per week on that week’s lecture topic, drawing from a list of readings and key texts, which I can find either in the Faculty, my College or University-wide Library. Then, I have a supervision for my essay, which means that I will meet a professor or a PhD student for one hour, alone or with a maximum of two other students, to discuss the topic in general and my essay in particular. Sometimes, certain supervisors arrange two supervisions for the same essay, so that they make sure that I am on the right track. These supervisions are very helpful, as I receive personal feedback on my work and have the opportunity to ask any questions to someone who is an expert in their field!
Do you have career plans?
So far, I do not have any specific careers plan. What I do know however, is that the role of education in international development increasingly interests me, so I am thinking of orienting myself towards that sector. This is not uncommon for Education students, as there is still much to discover in the course, while many others wish to opt for a teaching career in the future
Typical timetable of a 1st year Education student
Usually, I start the day by doing some readings: in total, I have about 10 or 11 essays to write per term, which means a little more than one supervision per week. I then prepare lunch and cycle towards the Faculty of Education. All my lectures last for two hours, with a half-hour break in the middle, and when they finish, I spend some time in the Library to continue working before going back to college for a much-awaited dinner. After dinner, I have time for social activities, whether it is sports or attending one of the many interesting events around town. I usually end the day by spending time in the College Bar with my friends, and occasionally go out in town: it really depends on what anyone prefers and the amount of work that I have to do!
What has been going on at Education?
- Recent Events -
Talk: English as a Lingua Franca: Past, Present and (Possible) Future
We all speak it, but what do we really know about the phenomenon of ‘English as a Lingua Franca’: what does it mean, how has it evolved, and what might be its future?
Perfect way to start our second-to-last lecture of term, with the librarians bringing in sweets and reminding us of the many ways they can help us with our work and readings.
Seminar: Using numbers to understand the world.
A seminar that explores children’s development of mathematical knowledge and how they apply it in their relation to the world. I wish I had known about that when I was doing maths!
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