Giovanna Correa Theme
We interviewed international student Giovanna Correa Theme. Here is what she had to say about undertaking the PGCE Secondary Art and Design course at the Institute of Education, University of Reading.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I have lived in eight cities, across four countries, spanning three continents. I firmly identify as a Third Culture Kid. The appreciation and empathy that this has afforded me is one of the driving factors in wanting to become a teacher in a world that is increasingly inter-connected.
Growing up mainly in Brazil, spending a year in the Philippines, three in Japan, and studying at university in the United Kingdom, has meant that I have experienced a range of cultures, and one of my greatest aspirations is to keep travelling. No trip I have ever been on has felt like a waste of time, on the contrary, it has made me immensely grateful to learn new things, and I would like to combine this learning with my teaching practice, wherever it may take me.
When selecting which universities to apply to, I did refer to rankings as a starting point. This led me to take note that the University of Reading has been at the top of the league tables across subjects for several years running, especially with its PGCE courses.
When investigating further, I discovered how lovely the town seemed to be to live in, and how beautiful the campus was. With the university I chose for my Bachelor's, it was a small, specialist institution with buildings dotted around the city centre, which felt like the right setup for me at the time, but now I felt ready for a large campus experience, with the town centre a stone's throw away.
As an international student, most of my research prior to the interview was done online, but the face-to-face interview only confirmed all my expectations. The campus is beautiful and welcoming, the facilities are modern, well-kept and diverse, with teaching staff that are experts in their field and nurturing of their students. It was the perfect combination, and I left the interview knowing I wanted to pick this university as my firm choice.
Why Art & Design? Why should pupils study it?
As a Third Culture Kid, I moved around a lot because of my father's job, and this meant that I had developed gaps in my learning due to moving schools so often. However, art & design classes were the only constant, and for as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed and been encouraged to be creative.
It was only logical that I finally decided to study graphic design at university for my Bachelor's, and within this course, I was still allowed to pursue various avenues and media while also learning how to use the latest graphics software. All these skills combined to make me very interested in providing the same safe, creative environments I had access to as a student.
As cliche as it may sound, art and design are expressions of the human spirit, and can build emotional maturity, develop fine motor skills, critical thinking as well as creative problem-solving.
All of these qualities are highly sought after in current job markets around the world, so if the cliche (but all too true) aspect of teaching art and design is too much for you, feel secure in knowing that fostering creativity in young minds within our ever-changing world is more important than it ever was.
What were your placements like?
As part of the PGCE course, we all started our placements early on, to maximise the amount of time and experience we can build to prepare us for our future teaching careers. The first part of my main placement eased me into the routines of the school, the curriculum content across Key Stages, and allowed me to develop meaningful professional relationships with colleagues from various departments.
My second placement was at a school with a contrasting culture and demographic, but while my first placement taught me how to effectively be firm and fair with students, my second placement taught me the importance of praise and how to allow students to have some freedom with their projects.
This combination has ultimately made me a more well-rounded teacher, and while each lesson entails being aware of a never-ending list of things to be mindful of, I feel confident in my ability to harness what I have learned so far.
What aspects of your course have inspired you most?
To be honest, I find the sheer amount of combined experience of our university tutors very inspiring. We are given the opportunity throughout the course to sign-up for Professional Studies seminars hosted by tutors of all PGCE subjects, which provides us with a vast array of experiences, subject knowledge and perspectives. From the outset, (as in, literally during my interview while applying for the course) I felt not only listened to, but inspired by the woman that would become my tutor during the PGCE course. Her open-mindedness, empathy, experience and understanding of the subject were the best evidence in convincing me I wanted to study here.
This level of support is sustained throughout the course, and extends to all staff at the university and its accommodation. There is plenty of provision to ensure students have someone to contact if needed, and transparency in how issues will be dealt with, should they even arise.
Anything you'd like to add about your experiences?
All in all, while I thankfully had offers from all my university choices, I confidently chose the University of Reading. Its diverse student body, supportive and knowledgeable staff, beautiful campus, and the professional development opportunities on offer here make it a sound choice. If all that is not enough to convince you, bear in mind that I moved here all the way from Japan!