Maia's education: Taking Liberal Arts into schools
From semester one at University, I was sure the philosophical ‘Liberal Arts’ education I was studying had something to offer beyond my own education at university. I saw so much potential in the educational approach of my degree being extended to schools, and this conviction only grew over my three years of study.
Before I came to University I attended a Steiner school. Here, as at university, I had wonderful experiences of education and learning in that it was more than just digesting facts, something much more meaningful. But I realise these experiences are not shared by all students. In contrast to my own educational experiences many students find education lacking, lifeless and meaningless. Seeing that something else is possible, this affects me most deeply. The Liberal Arts for Teachers project (LAT) is exactly the work that I wanted to engage in, broadening Liberal Arts education for children, bringing depth, meaning and, perhaps I could say, ‘soul’ back into learning.
The Liberal Arts days with John Scurr Primary School in Tower Hamlets were highlights of my degree. We visited the school in November each year and they would return with about 15 pupils in the following March. They were the most inspirational days. For me, the LAT work culminated in my leading a year five lesson on Plato. I don’t think anything can prepare you for that first moment, standing in front of a class, thirty pairs of eyes expectantly looking at you. But how much more beautiful can a first lesson be than one where you’re engaging with the ‘big questions’ of life and wondering what the ‘soul’ might be and a child tells the class that it is ‘a burning ball of light inside you’? There was education in preparing and teaching the lesson too. Introducing Plato’s tripartite soul to a group of 9-10 year-olds was far from a simple task. It took us hours to pull out what was most central. But, for me, there was education in the act of teaching too, in standing at the front of the room. It was there in that moment where you feel the butterflies in your stomach, seeing the children’s eyes sparkle full of life, wondering, struggling, questioning, thinking, talking, and listening. It was in these moments that I knew for certain that this is the work I have got to do.
I had wonderful experiences of education and learning in that it was more than just digesting facts, something much more meaningful. But I realise these experiences are not shared by all students.
I feel privileged to have been a part of this project. It offered me the opportunity to take my Liberal Arts education, its ideals and values out into the classroom. It was through studying Liberal Arts and doing these Liberal Arts school days, that I truly developed my vocation to teach. I now seek to bring something of the educational philosophy of my degree into the classroom for children. To this end, I am now undertaking a Steiner teacher training course in Germany. The Liberal Arts days I did with John Scurr during the past three years were an inspiration and springboard into the ways I now seek to live and work for education.
About the author:
Maia Pritchard graduated in 2018 BA (Hons) Liberal ArtsBack to blog