A Whole New World (or the Experience of a Teacher Trainee)
“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” Sydney J. Harris
Have you ever wondered about the main aim of education? What is the reason behind our everyday struggle for reaching the desired academic degree? One would say that there are personal dreams beyond every single step one takes. An educational philosopher Robert Maynard Hutchins once said that the object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives. This statement is definitely true. Education is no longer considered preparation for life, but rather it is life itself.
Every year, all students of teaching programmes at the Faculty of Arts experience classroom observations at a selected high school in Bratislava. This way they are able to see what it is like to stand in front of students. It is great to participate in running of the class, watching a real teacher managing it. There are of course many different things that you come across during the lesson. The best thing about it is undoubtedly the fact that you never know what can happen next...
When you are a student at the Faculty of Arts, you usually “visit” high school lessons following the national curriculum. But...Imagine that there are also lessons conducted exclusively in English... while you are still in Slovakia. Would you like to find out more? I can assure you it is definitely an enriching and unforgettable experience that will last a lifetime.
DESTINATION: GYMNÁZIUM JURA HRONCA
Being lucky, I was given a chance to visit real classes at Novohradská Joint School in Bratislava. This is actually a combined school formed of Jur Hronec Gymnázium and Košická Elementary School. Together they offer five different educational programmes for their students, four of which are completely in English. It should be emphasised that Jur Hronec Gymnázium is the only institution in Slovakia accredited by the International Baccalaureate Organization to offer these 3 special programmes: PYP (Primary Years Programme), MYP (Middle Years Programme) and Diploma Programmes.
It would be interesting to find out more about it all, wouldn’t it? That is exactly what I thought... Myself being a teacher, I decided to find out more about MYP or the “Middle Years Programme”. It is designed especially for students aged 11 to 16. One of the biggest advantages is no doubt the option of receiving grades internationally accredited by the above mentioned IB Organisation. That is also why the programme is so popular, especially among parents.
It is important to mention that MYP differs from the national programme in two main aspects. The first is the way subjects are taught. The second is how students are assessed. Pupils are exposed to seven subject groups each year. These are Humanities, Technology, Mathematics, Arts, Sciences, Physical Education and three languages – Slovak, English plus another foreign language (they can choose between German and Spanish). In order to be awarded the special MYP certificate, one has to meet requirements in all these subjects. Furthermore, each student has to submit a Personal Project. I have learned that this can be any work produced in the final year of the programme.
MYP is not only about knowledge and excellence though. The curriculum also contains a core made up of five areas of interaction. And that is exactly what makes the programme so special. At Novohradská Joint School, students are taught to take responsibility for their own learning. Furthermore, together with the teachers they learn to explore human creativity. They are taught to deal with physical, social and emotional health and intelligence. It is obvious that the programme is very complex. Its main aim is to produce knowledgeable, open minded and caring students. The values they learn are no doubt beneficial in the long run.
ENGLISH, ENGLISH, ENGLISH
MYP can actually be taught in any language. However, to be eligible for the certificate, students must reach sufficient competence in one of these four languages: English, French, Spanish or Chinese. At Gymnázium Jura Hronca, MYP is taught in English. Overhearing the conversations of these teenagers who are already fluent in two languages is something that can make one feel truly jealous.
TRUE MYP EXPERIENCE
As a teacher trainee, you can enjoy MYP as an outsider looking in. It is a unique experience and can help you get to know more about the teaching process. However, what does it feel like to be a MYP student? In order to find out more, I conducted some informal research. I asked 21 current MYP students about their attitudes, likes and dislikes.
66 % of them also attended Primary Years Programme (designed for students aged 6 to 11) and so have previous experience with the IB-style education. Interestingly, the remaining 44 % (who had come out of the national system of education) would all choose MYP again over the national programme if they had the choice.
What makes MYP so special for them? Actually, most students simply love its uniqueness! All of them agreed that the greatest benefit of MYP is English. I found it amazing that 43 % of students said that English is actually their favourite subject. 24 % love Science (especially Biology), 14 % chose Arts and the rest equally share their passion for P.E. and Maths.
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