Part twelve in a series exploring my work history, revealing how I ended up working in a library. This post: back to school.
Back to school
So here I was, a full-time student again, in a foreign country, at age 34. I went from having nothing to occupy myself with, to suddenly having a full schedule of classes to attend, lists of books to read and assignment deadlines to meet. How exactly did this happen?
A few months after moving to America, I made the decision that I wanted to be a teacher. This thought had been bubbling under the surface for quite a long time; ever since I had taught English in Japan, I’d been toying with the idea of doing a course to convert my degree to a teaching qualification (in the UK the course is called a PGCE, and takes a year to complete). I even got as far as filling out a course application form, but lingering doubts kept me back from actually submitting it. Now, in America, I suddenly regretted not having that qualification, and tried to find a way to get it. My wife worked at a small liberal arts college, and suggested I meet the Education faculty to see if they could help; free tuition was available to me as the spouse of a college employee.
The college didn’t offer a fast-track education qualification; instead I had to enroll to do a full Education degree, which would take four years to complete. However, I was able to reduce this by transferring in credits from my earlier Media Art and English degree, meaning I could graduate with a new degree in Education & Youth Studies in about two years.
For the most part, the classes were engaging and I appreciated the variety of new experiences; I read stories to young children at an after-school club, supported middle-school students in their study of classic children’s literature, helped disadvantaged teenagers complete their high school diploma, completed an internship with a charity that supported neglected and abused children going through the legal and social services system, taught lessons at elementary and middle schools, and wrote more essays than I care to remember.
Alongside my major in Education, I also declared a minor in Museum Studies, a subject that I had serendipitously discovered a passion for, which in turn, led me to my next job. What I learned from this experience: sometimes it feels like you are in completely the wrong place, but it turns out you are exactly where you need to be.
Part thirteen to follow.
It’s a pleasure to have you visit Under Western Skies again. You have quite a diverse background. Beloit resonates with me, because one of its native sons, and a graduate of the college was Roy Chapman Andrews, who had a notable career as a naturalist, explorer and director of the American Museum of Natural History. I was fascinated by his 1920s Gobi Desert expeditions when I was a kid.
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Yes, Roy Chapman Andrews is a famous Beloit figure. I studied Museum Studies at the Logan Museum of Anthropology in Beloit, which together with the Roy Chapman Andrews Society, presents the Distinguished Explorer Award to a suitable person each year.
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Good to know. Thank you. Not every aspect of Mr. Andrews’ persona was entirely admirable, but he made some great contributions to the field.