Sunday, 4 October 2015

PGCE - September

Feels like ages ago I started my PGCE, but also in some ways has gone quickly. We were given quite a few tasks to complete over the summer to bring with us for our first month at the university which kept me quite busy. To start with, we had to complete a week of Primary School experience, complete with documentation and a signed certificate from the head teacher of the primary school. I was really worried I wouldn't be able to find the time or arrange this but luckily I did!
In my primary school I was with the arts and crafts helper for 2 and a half days, helping children across a variety of year groups work on art projects that had to be completed over the term and year. These were outside of lesson time but allowed the children to gain basic skills in arts and craft from a young age, as well as learning to think creatively in the older years.
With the younger years we worked on embroidery and printmaking, using designs that related to a class topic that the children were studying in other subjects.
For the rest of the week I was with a year 5 class observing lessons. It was actually really good fun, and I enjoyed seeing how creative some of their lessons could be - their music lesson involved designing a CD cover! I enjoyed helping out the children with their history lesson too which consisted of designing a timeline of WW2. 
On the final day I gave a little art lesson which tied in with the class study of WW2. My task for them was to design a suitcase for an evacuee child and to decide what the evacuee would bring with them.
It was a little slow to start with but once the project got underway the kids seemed to really enjoy it and came up with some really good suitcases!
Overall I had a really good time and found the experience very useful to my studies. I made tons of notes and took lots of pictures which will prove to be useful later on in the PGCE when we have to show documentation for the work we have done. 
Anyway, the week after my primary school experience I started officially at Institute of Education UCL.
I was a little nervous but we got stuck in very quickly. The first month of the PGCE course is spent in the university and consists of lectures, classes and workshops.
I've spent the first month making lots of notes and drinking lots of coffee...although as warned, I've been constantly inundated with viruses and colds. I had to take two days off just to cope with a fever that I still don't truly feel I've recovered from yet. Apparently the PGCE is well known for its students getting every virus going.
One of the projects we had to bring with us on the first day was our 'alter ego' sculptures. I designed a group of characters, all spontaneously, which in the end started to feel like some sort of intervention as I was designing them - my dining room was full up with beady eyed stuffed toys sitting round me!
With our alter egos we were split into groups and each student had to give a talk about themselves and their practice. It was quite interesting to see other people's styles of work. I'm one of the youngest on my course by a considerable amount of years, as I've come straight from graduating art school whereas most of the students have had careers and children already! I'm also one of the only illustrators; most people on the course are fine art based artists (think expanding foam sculptures and paintings!) and the rest are art history graduates. It's quite a mix bag of people and a totally different experience than the one I had at art school.
Amongst the many lectures and workshops, my favourite so far has been a workshop presented by arts educator Henry Ward. We were split into three groups and given 90 minutes to produce an exhibition based on random descriptive words given to each student. My work was 'rapid'. It was quite a difficult task as no one in my group could agree to an idea, so in the end we all just decided to get on with our own thing. I found it a little difficult being the only illustrator as most people in my group liked to work in a very different way to me. In the end I designed a little house suspended on thread with wheels and flames coming out the back. The door to the house opened, and inside was a little bed. The idea came from my word 'rapid' as I tried to make a little house that could speed around to and from destinations. 
Another workshop we took part in as a class was attending Dulwich College's 'big draw' day. I really enjoyed this and was exhausted by the end of the day! 
As a partner school Dulwich College invited us to observe and take part in their drawing festival where they got the year 9s to draw and build with drawing. 
My year 9 group did a variety of methods to draw, such as blindfolding themselves and describing what they were drawing to each other.
After a morning of practice drawing they went outside and drew from observation using chalk and pencils. They mostly drew the crane and the clocktower on site. 
With their observational drawings my group had to work from their images to create a 3d piece on the wall in the public space of the school. They were only able to work with nails, hammers and black thread. 
Their finished wall piece was very impressive! The kids really enjoyed producing it too. 
Another year 9 group produced a sculpture from their observational drawings, and they put it in the centre of the room for the other children to draw from.
From their drawings they drew in chalk and were made to swap their works round the class so their classmates could build on top of their designs. They got very very messy!
This post hasn't really done a lot of justice to the amount of work undertaken in the first month of the PGCE, but its just a highlight of some of my favourite things. Its been very intense and I cannot stress enough how many hours we have spent in (very long, but very interesting) lectures. We haven't had TOO much work just yet but I am bracing myself for the first school placement which starts in October. After the second week of uni we were told where we'd be spending our first school placements, I have a school in Orpington which is good because its fairly easy to get to. I'll be posting monthly updates on the PGCE just in case anyone out there is interested in finding out more about it. When I was applying for my PGCE, especially the art and design PGCE, I found that there was very little information about it from current or ex students so I'm hoping these blog posts will serve as some sort of reference in the future to others.


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