“So you want to be a teacher?” – From Bangkok to BSc Education at the University of Manchester
You would think that people would want to know about my specialism in Education or perhaps that they might ask me about the highlights of my degree, but the most common question I get asked is whether or not I want to be a teacher. It is interesting as most would not assume that a Chemistry student would exclusively be working in science labs mixing fancy liquids or that all English Literature students are merely aspiring authors.
My name is Jaja Choktanasiri and in this blog, I discuss the highlights of being a neurodivergent, international student on the BSc Education course – a Manchester Institute of Education Undergraduate program.
Throughout my (coming-up-to) 2 years at Manchester, I have learnt many University tips that I would love to share with prospective students. Like my Fresher self, we often forget the obvious advice which is to ask for help and utilize the different support services the university has. If you are a neurodivergent student like me, there is a specialized advisor within the University’s Disability Advisory and Support Service (DASS). From exam arrangements to extended library loans, you will not be walking alone in the process.
By the same token, contrary to popular belief, there is no need to worry about reading in advance of starting your course. Your university lecturers and academic advisor (we are all assigned one for the entirety of our degree!) will be there to guide you. On our BSc Education course, we are eased into the content and the professors are incredibly friendly. If anything, the difference between university and sixth form/college is that you are viewed as independent adults.
Before starting university, my chief concerns were academia and living independently. However, one of the key messages is that sometimes the challenges you face are the ones you least expect. It turns out that needing extra social support was a walk in the park and things were more complicated with the question that I often get when I tell people I am studying Education.
I graduated from a British international school in Bangkok, Thailand and gained 3 strong A-Levels. Many did not understand why I chose to study Education and many were even intrigued that I would vaguely consider a career in teaching. Without being too trivial, I think there is an undervaluation of teachers and Education in general.
Certain occupations were more ‘honorary’ than others where I am from.
For me, realizing that Education is so integral to our everyday lives is the highlight of my course. Free Maths videos on Youtube, platforms for engineers to model their next invention, Lego instructions, reading sight music and learning to cut your hair during quarantine involves some form of learning, un-learning and re-learning. This is something that has always been instilled in me by the Manchester staff in the Education department. Therefore, if you are thinking about taking a similar route into Education, my best tip is to welcome new challenges with an open arm and an open mind.
Again, it turns out that my biggest challenge became the highlight of my university career. Educating people on the importance and intersectionality of the field of education became my passion. It is my biggest undergraduate hurdle but also the source of my most exciting leaps.