What’s it really like to study education at UQ? What does the day in the life of an education student look like? What kind of job can I get with an education degree? And how will UQ give me the skills I need to face the future, when I don’t know what the future looks like?
Jason is an education student and Dr Simone Smala is a lecturer in education at the University of Queensland. They’ve teamed up to answer some of your questions, and help you decide what’s right for you.
What is it about UQ’s approach that makes us the most employable graduates in the state?
Simone: We are a university that really looks after our students. We nurture our students we have small cohorts, we have small tutorials, we really look after every student, and that kind of personal involvement with students means that I can walk around the university campus for example, and I will know people. I will know you, I would say “hi Jason!” And I think that personal approach is really, really important and makes a difference for our graduates.
What are you looking forward to most in you degree?
Jason: I'm definitely looking forward to the placements. You get to apply all the knowledge that you've learned, and get to teach kids.
What opportunities to your students have to get hands-on experience in our industry?
Simone: One of our most important things is that we send our students out to practicums straight away. You will have the experience of being at a school, pretty much from year one, and that's just wonderful because it's not just this theoretical idea.
We engage with what we call industry, we engage with schools, we send our students back, they can observe other teachers they can then start after initial observations, they can start to apply this knowledge themselves in designing learning activities, maybe small activities first but then whole lessons. It’s a scaffolded approach where you will learn by being exposed to the real environment of a school.
What is the most interesting thing you've learned that has not been part of your coursework?
Jason: I've learned that it's a very valuable skill to be able to adapt to online learning as well as on campus learning, it's quite a challenge but it's something that you adapt to and overcome. And these are very valuable skills for the rest of the degree, and even into the workplace.
How do you prepare students for the future when we don't know what the future looks like?
Simone: We never know what the future looks like, do we? What we know, though, is that we are all in it together. Basically, we are focused on the global community. We are focused on global citizenship. We want our graduates here at UQ to be part of the global community. And that means that we equip them with things like an understanding of world history, and understanding of languages and understanding of politics and understanding of how education might take place in other countries, Finland, for example, often comes up in the media, we talk about these things we make sure our graduates are part of a global community, a part of global citizenship, so that they can actually work anywhere in the world.
If you were employing the next education graduate, what would you be looking for?
Simone: If I was the employer and looking for a new teacher, I'll be looking for people with an open mind, and I'd be looking for people who ask me questions about the school that I'm working in, because what I would want to know is, are graduates who are coming into my school interested in this particular environment in which they might be working? Because every school is different.
We really have to ask people to have this open mind and to be able to engage with different contexts, be able to take in the specifics and the questions or the issues and problems that might actually occur in school. So the more a UQ graduate asks about the place they want to work, the better because that would show me they have an open mind, they’re curious, they're interested in my world as an employer, and they're interested in becoming a new contributing part of this world.
What are the most valuable skills you've learned as part of your degree so far?
Jason: One of the most important skills that tested is interpersonal skills. There's just so many people to meet and to get to know it really kind of pushes you forward and builds your confidence up.
If you could give one piece of advice that would set me apart as a job candidate, what would it be?
Simone: First of all, you can rely on UQ, being an environment that gives you a holistic view of the world. And if you hop back to this understanding of the world as an integrated whole. This is something that employers really will be looking for, they will be looking for your deep intellectual engagement with the world, and you will receive this deep intellectual engagement here at UQ.
The approach at UQ is very much around having a view of many different perspectives, taking these perspectives on-board, critically evaluating these perspectives and understanding how you can use this for your own development and for your own working skills and broader skills. Bringing that attitude with you to job interviews, an attitude of a broad intellectual engagement with the world will certainly be your most important aspect.