Review Point 5 (The new world order of Covid-19)

Subject knowledge

Though Covid-19 resides as a global norm, for PGCE review points and beyond, it is inescapable to mention. Teaching has ceased for the rest of the course. For this section, and for the section entitled teaching and learning, the reflective practitioner must adopt new and novel lenses to produce relevant and critical content.

Knowledge of all things expands infinitely. Transience from one era to the next brings with it new concepts, reformed ideas, and intertextual creations. Thus, the watchful teacher must not succumb to a comfortable nest of complacency, all too often inspired by proudful ownership of a rouge honours degree.

To increase my subject knowledge, I picked a random topic that I knew nothing about within my field of expertise. My choice has been Hermeticism. When Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, as one did, he learnt of the Egyptian God Thoth, a God primarily representative of magic. Syncretism, the blending of two religious’ beliefs, followed.

Merging the Greek God Hermes and the Egyptian God Thoth gave birth to Hermes Trismegistus, the mythical composer of the Corpus Hermeticum. The Corpus Hermeticum contains a fascinating blend of magic and ancient philosophy, which I have been thoroughly enjoying. Interestingly, an ancient form of magic was seen to be subvocalizing a request to differing Gods, making sure to mention that the request should only take place if the corresponding God wills it to. That Catholics officially define magic as heresy seems rather hypocritical, like prayer, to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, is magic.

Whilst this may all seem irrelevant to teaching, I would strongly argue against such a short-sighted observation. To be good teachers we do not just need to know about our subject, we need to inspire the curiosity of the subject and pleasure of learning. To do this all teachers should have the freedom to better study their subject, and in doing so modelling a love of lifelong learning. 

Teaching and Learning

Online teaching seems to be the new world order. I am starting a job with EF Teach, solely focused on teaching adults. My training day is on the 1st of June. Teaching ESOL online makes sense to a degree, as eliciting the action of speaking is easy. When it comes to teaching philosophy, I am less convinced.

I am less convinced largely because of a lack of movement. This may seem like a small feature, but many teaching activities involve physical movement. Without physical movement, it is harder to get learners to work with a wider variety of students. Whilst some teaching platforms have a means of mixing which learner works with which learner, not all do. The physical aspect of movement also helps to stimulate and energise learners, if learners are simply sitting by computer screens it is harder to engage and motivate them. 

Academic writing

I did not do well with my academic writing, getting a level 6 rather than a level 7. Though I was not far of, I think my biggest mistake in the assignment was to try and leave the needs of learners at ‘doing philosophy’ rather than prescribing it. Religion and Philosophy is a level 2 subject, and its main purpose is to create dialogue. I think I should have gone for a different topic, and used it in an A-Level class, as I would have had much more to write about concerning the needs of my learners. My developmental points were:

Try to find a balance between discussing theory and context (this assignment is leaning towards the former, to stay within allotted word count (+/-10%) and to check Harvard referencing guide for both in-text and reference list.

(I resubmitted and attained a Level 7 in the LTA assignment) 

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Published by Coffee & Alex

Alexander Clarke is a sole trader who writes and teaches. He’s published articles, blog posts, short stories and poems. He’s taught philosophy, theology, ESOL and PSHE.

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