One of my favourite things about the Education Department is it’s quite small. It means that classes are smaller, so you get more chances to engage with people and get help from lecturers or seminar leaders. I know the idea of having more contact with ‘scary, intimidating university teachers’ can be a terrifying thought, but I promise it is so much nicer knowing that you have more opportunities to chat to them and clarify things, instead of stressing about putting your hand up and speaking out in a class of 100 or more.
Another considerable stress that often comes with starting university is the looming terror of assignments and how different they are from high school. I’ll be honest with you – they are definitely different and are more academically rigorous. However, I didn’t feel stressed about university assignments at all. I did stress about them, but a lot less than I expected because of the help we got from the department.
The lecturers, module convenors and seminar leaders were always so friendly and supportive. They knew university was a new and intimidating experience for all of us, so they created plenty of opportunities to get help and advice about our assignments, including seminars geared around university-level academic writing. How awesome is that?!
I know that makes me sound like a bit of a nerd, but having that level of support when you’re starting university was a huge comfort. If you take advantage of it, it really does make the first year much less stressful, leaving you time to enjoy your degree and all the other aspects of university life that you don’t experience in a lecture hall.
One event in particular though truly made my first year doing Education Studies fantastic. One of our core modules was all about the different philosophical and historical ideas in education. One of our summative assignments was to create a digital story and reflective essay linked to one of the twenty topics we had covered. The reflective essay was similar to a typical academic essay, but doing a digital story as a university assignment was one of the most fun and exciting bits of work I’ve done in school. Ever!
Essentially we had complete creative freedom to tell a story about a transformative experience that happened at some point in our educational journey, and it had to link up in some way to one of our module topics. I loved it so much because it’s really unusual that you get to do something so open and creative as an assignment. The best part is the department set up workshop-style lectures to help us work through the whole process. Not only did we get step-by-step help on a big summative assignment, but it also ended up being a really relaxing and therapeutic task, so win-win!
Anyway, I hope this blog post has helped give you a little insight into what it is like doing Education at Durham. It’s hard work, but it’s also really fun, and what’s most important is that it is a really supportive and open community (both staff and students), so no matter what, I guarantee you won’t feel like you’re doing it alone. If you have any more questions about doing an Education degree or life as an Education Studies student at Durham, you can always reach out to me, or another Durham University Ambassador on Unibuddy and we will do our best to answer all your questions.
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