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Will they hire me? Degree/experience enquiry

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by nicole01, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. nicole01

    nicole01 New commenter


    I am currently Assistant Director of English ( second in department KS4) at a challenging school in Birmingham. I have a BA hons in Language Literacy and Communication and a Masters in Educational Leadership (as well as PGCE and QTS). I have been teaching successfully for 4 years since qualifying. I have always worked in challenging schools and have a good track record of raising attainment particularly in the school I at atm.

    I am looking for a job either in Africa, South America or Oceania as an English teacher or Head of Department. However, I am a little concerned that as my degree is not English Literature or English Language that I won't be hired. I'm also a little concerned that experience in challenging schools in not necessarily a good thing!

    If anyone has any insight on this, it would be greatly appreciated. I may just be doubting myself but it would be good to know either way.


  2. davidbowiefan

    davidbowiefan Established commenter

    Is your degree in Language Literacy or should there be a comma between the first two words? I'm afraid I have no idea what your degree entails and an employer may not know either. How would you teach a subject up to IB level if you don't have a degree in it, let alone work as a head of department overseeing the work of others in that subject?
  3. TonyGT

    TonyGT Established commenter

    I'd wager that there's little, if any correlation between having a degree in a subject and teaching it successfully. We all know of that teacher who is qualified up to the eyeballs in a subject and can't teach it to save their life and that other teacher who has no formal Geography degree yet gets outstanding results year on year. Very few successful entrepreneurs have business and economics degrees and yet they somehow made it without one.

    OP, if you know your subject and you have quantifiable evidence that you can teach it successfully then the only problem I can see is if the visa requirements are that you have the exact degree in the subject that you teach. However, even then I doubt anyone is going to delve in to the difference between your very English sounding degree and teaching English.
  4. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Yes, and we also know that these are outliers and not really representative.
    davidbowiefan likes this.
  5. TonyGT

    TonyGT Established commenter

    How do we know that? I don't think there's been any research into this. I'm not really a believer in the innate value of university education possibly apart from a few STEM courses. Take for example Computer Science. Would a candidate who had drifted through University with little to no effort automatically be a better than a person who worked in the IT industry for 15 years and making apps for a living?
  6. davidbowiefan

    davidbowiefan Established commenter

    Maybe there isn't much need for a degree in English if you teach it in a challenging school. I can see a place for that kind of teacher in an international school which has a high number of EAL pupils, provided they have EAL experience. But how would they teach high-achieving pupils? There's a world of difference between getting a pass in a challenging school and an A at IB level.
  7. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    And how many of these cases do you know of? How many ex-IT professionals do you know of that are teaching compared to the number of trained individuals who have degrees in Computer Science?

    Actually, how many people do you know of that work in the computer industry that do not have any qualifications in the subject?

    These individuals are outliers. If you think otherwise, look at the people you teach with and work out what proportion of them are unqualified in the subject that they teach. If it is greater than 10% I would be very surprised.

    It is a romantic notion that honest toil beats book learning. It is also absolute rubbish.
  8. TonyGT

    TonyGT Established commenter

    I guess it depends on the individual. I have tutored University students who have known so little about the course they are doing that I am shocked that they even got on the course, never mind manage to pass it with a shiny certificate at the end. Undergraduate courses on the whole aren't complicated. They're not PHDs. I genuinely believe that someone with a true passion for learning and a little innate intelligence can self-teach the large part of what is taught in University BAs. While I understand that a university eduaction is a necessary quantifiable piece of evidence of at least minimal competence in a field, I don't believe that attending a University makes you more competent in a specific area than someone who has never formally taken a course. Obviously there are exceptions to this, such as many BSCs or STEM courses where a controlled, guided and hand-holding approach is appropriate due to the importance of absolutes and misconception.

    Also, while it's true that less than 10% of teachers are not formally qualified in their field, this doesn't prove that they are more competent than others whose experience comes from elsewhere. It just proves that schools prefer to (understandably) hire those who have a certain piece of paper.
  9. TonyGT

    TonyGT Established commenter

    I realise it sounds like a ridiculous question, but why couldn't you learn the contents of an English University course by yourself?
  10. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    I don't disagree with your premise (in principle), as it should be possible for anybody with the ability and time to be able to study the content of a degree course on their own. It doesn't happen in many cases due to the feedback needed to make sure you are on the right track (and other things that I cannot think of...)

    The key thing, to my mind, is relevant experience in the field that they wish to teach in. If one combines this experience with a qualification then, hopefully, you have a competent teacher.

    Now experience without qualification vs. qualification without experience? I would probably go with the latter if push came to shove but, thankfully, I have never been in a school that was faced with that situation.
  11. davidbowiefan

    davidbowiefan Established commenter

    I can't see anyone being able to educate themselves beyond A Level in an arts subject. There's no reason why they couldn't get through the reading list but this would only make them well-read, not an English graduate. What a degree course offers is the opportunity to refine your thinking in the presence of similarly educated and intelligent people. If you attend a top tier university, you have the chance to discuss ideas with some of the most prominent academics in your field. The informal feedback in tutorials and formal feedback on essays develops the student's ideas and enables them to construct an intelligent argument. A well-read person may be able to tell you that they think a work of literature is good but not why it is good, why it is significant, how it influenced subsequent generations, how the writer constructed it, how it could be interpreted in various ways, and so on.

    Writing a university essay requires thinking skills of a very high level. These are skills that can only be refined by teachers who have gone through the process themselves and can help the student to improve.

    I'm not sure how anyone could self-educate themselves to a high level in any subject. A teacher is necessary to point out mistakes and encourage the student when they are moving in the right direction. The word 'educate' means 'to bring out'. Isn't that why we do it, to bring out the best in pupils?
  12. TonyGT

    TonyGT Established commenter

    True. In a University you might be surrounded by 100 like minded individuals to discuss your ideas with if you're on a particularly popular course. But with technology in the modern world, you're surrounded by millions. Learning outside of an institution is no longer a solitary slog with no feedback or opportunity to discuss and develop collectively. In my field at least, there are user forums with thousands upon thousands of active professionals, guru-style experts and learners to answer questions, get involved in discussions and combat misconceptions and mistakes. The resources available to you if you look int he right (and reputable) places far out-weight what any individual university can offer.

    I'm talking solely about undergraduate degrees here. For anything higher then the research equipment, environment and certified guidance of a dedicated institution is understandably somewhat of a must.
  13. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    'Writing a university essay requires thinking skills of a very high level. These are skills that can only be refined by teachers who have gone through the process themselves and can help the student to improve.'

    Cripes! Academic standards in universities must have risen immeasurably since I took my English BA in nineteen-hundred-and-frozen-to-death. The only person who ever taught me anything about essay writing was Eric Wells, one of my A Level teachers, a splendid fellow who drove a post-vintage Alvis. He made me precis all my efforts at half the original length, a skill which stood me in good stead until 20 years later when I had to write B Tech submissions and got into trouble for not including enough edubabble.
  14. davidbowiefan

    davidbowiefan Established commenter

    It depends on the university. I did my first degree in English at one of the best universities for that subject and it wasn't unusual to hear our lecturers pontificating on TV and radio 4. They didn't teach anything about essay-writing as they would have thought that beneath them. Its the Socratic method style of teaching that I am talking about and no online community will give you that.
  15. davidbowiefan

    davidbowiefan Established commenter

    I think you may be talking only about computer science. There are lots of online blogs and discussion threads for books, but they aren't populated by Eng Lit graduates. As I said above, many people online may be able to tell you they like something but not why they like it or why you should read it. They don't have any sense of how literature works. Its the same for history buffs. They may know many more facts about World War 1 than you do but they can't use them to draw wider conclusions.

    Even in your own subject, I don't know how you can tell that the person online knows what they are talking about. I have done a couple of short courses with futurelearn and I found them very useful but the course moderators are university lecturers, usually at Russell Group universities. The OU also has online discussion boards but they are supplemented by essays, meetings with a tutor and a summer school every year. Students need guidance from someone more experienced otherwise their studies will be haphazard.
  16. davidbowiefan

    davidbowiefan Established commenter

    I don't know what your academic background is but essay-writing technique is taught at A Level, not university. Its fair for staff to assume that an English student has already learned to write an essay if they're studying the subject at university level. By the way, it isn't just my judgement that its one of the best. I would never make such a claim without evidence.

    I would be interested to know which universities teach essay-writing techniques on an English degree. Can you supply the names of these institutions?
  17. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    University of Portsmouth, Department of Sociology.
  18. davidbowiefan

    davidbowiefan Established commenter

    No it isn't.

    You appear to be mistaking an English degree for KS2.

    I asked for evidence. If the answer is "I suspect", it proves my points about learning from the internet.
  19. davidbowiefan

    davidbowiefan Established commenter

    This isn't an English degree.

    The University of Portsmouth isn't exactly a top tier institution and an A Level in Sociology isn't recognised by universities which can afford to be choosy.
  20. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    'Writing a university essay requires thinking skills of a very high level. These are skills that can only be refined by teachers who have gone through the process themselves and can help the student to improve.'

    This does seem to imply that university teachers in the kind of institution you endorse actually do teach essay writing skills. However, a few posts later, you appear to have shifted your ground in favour of a sort of lofty Platonic osmosis. I also have a piece of paper from a Russell Group university, but as for celebrity dons, give me strength. I chaired a BBC debate involving one of mine. He was as obscure on the telly as in the lecture theatre. Of my three effectively Socratic lecturers two were ex A level teachers (Classics and Chemistry) and the doyen of all, the splendidly polymathic Austin Woolrych, started working life as a salesman in Harrods

    'I'm not sure how anyone could self-educate themselves to a high level in any subject.'

    Many have done so. Wren had no training in architecture but the dome hasn't fallen down yet.

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