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MA vs. PGCE

Since the beginning of this term I have been considering two routes of progression after I graduate. One of my main concerns is that I am already a mature student and if I want to pursue any further education - I don't really want to be taking any more years out and dragging out the perpetual student status longer than it needs to be. I feel like if I complete the degree and go into employment it would be to take a position with the intention of sticking it out for a while - not a short term 1-2 year position. I know it is still possible to have a part time job and complete a degree but quite frankly I am not sure I am one of those people. This past year I have had to be completely focused on completing the degree and when I try to bring other aspects of my life into focus I feel myself start to lose control, obviously this is something I need to work on as you cant go through life only focusing on one aspect at a time - life just isn't convenient like that however while I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do this I have taken complete advantage of my situation.


Career wise I had always considered pursuing teaching or some kind of educational position after completing this course, and as I have been at the college I have established that ideally I would want to teach at FE or HE level. This has brought in different aspects for me to consider in particular the importance of a MA. Thinking about it, it is not beyond the realms of possibility to have completed both an MA and a PGCE within the next 5 years. What I need to establish at this point is which of these routes is more important for me to pursue - and take in to consideration both what I want to achieve and what will make me happy.


The PGCE route has had considerable doubt cast over it the more I discuss this idea, my mum works in a school and the feedback from the art teachers there is that it is the wrong time to be pursuing teaching in the creative arts and that a position within a gallery that offers and educational program would be more appropriate. Past students and other friends of mine who have gone on to PGCE generally have nothing positive to say about it - it comes across as a gruelling, intense and thankless task with little satisfaction or and less time. Not only does the PGCE come under quite negative scrutiny whenever it is brought up but I have also recently found myself being challenged with questions - "why not do an MA?" or "why wouldn't you pursue art as a career" and the suggestion that the potential in my work would hugely benefit from pursuing that route instead - as would my confidence. Now this is not to say that I am easily swayed by public opinion. I have after all also been told on several occasions that my communication and approachability would also make me well suited to a teaching role.


With these questions running round my head I knew I would benefit from some form of hands on experience to see which route would be best for me. Other than open days and other public events it is quite hard to get a real feel for an MA course before you've actually started it, but after a conversation with Mick I realised that there were ways I could gain experience in a classroom situation without even having to leave campus by offering to volunteer with the foundation year group I would get an opportunity to see how I respond to being on the other side of tutorials/crits/presentations and weather that line of work would suit me in the future.


So in order to work out which route is best for me I have set myself two tasks - the first being to fully research and identify potential MA courses, and the second to volunteer with the foundation group once a week as needed.

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