For most people (including me), questioning education is not something one does as they grow up. The bells, the uniform, the timetable, what you are taught and who decides this. For most of us, this goes largely unquestioned, a passing thought from time to time. We turn up, do what we are asked to do, sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes less so, always with one eye on the big wide world beyond the school gates. A world full of adventure and excitement. A world which education is preparing us for. But how well?
It is worth stopping and thinking, what has education prepared me for? How much have I learnt? How much of that do I actually need to know? How much have I already forgotten and how much will I forget? Above all, who decided upon all of this and how has what we call education changed over time? It was at university that I started asking all of these questions, and the opportunities to ask more are boundless and bolstered by enthusiastic staff and students.
This might seem overwhelming, but far from it; it’s refreshing. Indeed, it’s enlightening. During the first year of study, all of the basic concepts are covered, ensuring that you gain a strong body of knowledge to move forward with into your second and third years. Throughout your studies, you’ll be surrounded by supportive people, students and staff included. The Department of Education is full of friendly, knowledgeable and open-minded people.
Other than independent work, there are also multiple opportunities to take part in collaborative group work. I have recently been involved in two different projects. One involved designing an educational policy proposal to present to the module group, while the other involved examining how education is presented on TV. To narrow down the latter question, we decided to focus on how certain forms of challenging behaviour was represented on the Educating… series. We plan to present our findings in a few weeks time, and have enjoyed working together throughout, building our friendship, sharing ideas and creating a piece of work that we couldn’t have done alone.
During your first year, you’ll have eight hours worth of lectures – led by academics – and three hours of seminars – led by PhD students – leaving you with plenty of time to famialize yourself with the campus and all of the facilities it has to offer. The library, playing fields, cafes, bars, study rooms and multiple colleges. With your first year not counting towards your overall degree classification, this period is an ideal one for discovering which learning habits best suit you within a context of an independent learning environment. You should come prepared to ask questions, safe in the understanding that the University of York offers the perfect atmosphere for it. Education is all around us.