MA Education (Creative & Critical Practice) - Student Case Studies

Comments from some of the MA Education (Creative and Critical Practice) Students

Sarah Jacques

Sarah began her higher education at Wolverhampton University, achieving 2:1 in Theatre Studies.  She went on to study a Post Graduate Diploma in Acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.  After several years working as a professional actress and singer, Sarah decided to train as a drama teacher.  She has worked as a drama teacher for Staffordshire County  Council for the last three years.

The MA in Creative and Critical Practice was particularly appealing as it encourages teachers to look at their current classroom practice and reflect on how this could be improved. As a relatively new teacher, I was keen to continue to develop my knowledge and understanding of the education system as well as improving my own day-to-day practice.

The best aspect of the programme has been working with new people. Within our school a group of nine students was    selected to undertake the course. With the support of the Keele tutors we have established a strong working group with some powerful dialogue about the education system and current practice. In addition to our work in school we have been offered the opportunity to come in to Keele for a series of seminars with key thinkers in our field of study. Each of the seminars has been incredibly thought provoking and has enabled a dialogue to develop with people from other educational establishments.  Being part of the MA programme has significantly increased my confidence as an educationalist. I hope to use my knowledge, experience and understanding to further my career within the field of education.

The course has been very demanding as I am still working full time; submission dates for assignments have sometimes clashed with exams, school shows or reports, which has been a little stressful.  However, I have found the course incredibly enjoyable and rewarding. The Keele tutors provide a great deal of support both through the provision of excellent support material and on a more personal level through one to one discussion.  

Initially, careful time management is needed. However, I soon found my ‘flow’ with my studies, enjoying the additional challenge that the course provided.  There have been stressful moments but the Keele tutors are very supportive and they understand the demands that teachers face.

I would definitely recommend the MA in Critical and Creative Practice in Educational Settings. I believe that the course gives you the opportunity to understand more about current issues in education whilst developing skills in critical thinking. It gives you the confidence to question decisions made at Government, school and classroom level. The programme helps you to understand what you do and why you do it, whilst providing strategies for implementing a more democratic approach to learning and teaching. The programme undoubtedly makes you a more rounded teacher as well as a better academic. It is a fantastic opportunity so if you are considering enrolling – go for it!

Kim Greenwood

Kim owned her own business for 18 years and came into teaching in 2004. She has worked in 3 schools, and has settled in her current school, which is a large 11-18 mixed Technology and Sport College in Staffordshire, where she has she is second in charge of a large Design Technology department.

Keele was the only local university offering the particular focus that I was interested in.  Undertaking the MA has been a very positive and self affirming process which I believe has had a positive impact on the quality of learning of the pupils in my care.  The focus on criticality has enabled me to reflect on my own practice and identify areas for change and development.   

The demands of assessment deadlines has been a challenge, but has intensified the learning process.  The support sessions for each module, which have been led by very skilled lecturers, have enabled our group to critically explore a range of complex professional and theoretical issues and develop increasingly sophisticated understanding of our own practice as educators.  A particular strength of the Masters programme is Keele’s fabulous library that I have had access too and made extensive use of.

I would recommend the programme to others as it allows for an individual response to the experience. There is significant history and theory involved which situates the educational experience of the individual teacher.

My recommendations for anyone undertaking a similar course is to pace themselves to get the full benefit of each module as it builds on the previous module. Also, to fully partake in discussions to help deepen the experience;  I have learned so much from the contribution of other course members and from opportunities to ‘bounce’ ideas around.

I feel the experience for me has developed my teaching philosophy much more quickly than if I had not done this particular MA.  I have always wanted to study educational practice to a higher level but have found other courses too prescriptive.  The learning that has come from this programme has encouraged me to undertake a PhD.

Anthony Webster

A previous course at Keele had left me with good impressions.  I knew the campus to be welcoming, the staff approachable and the institution well-respected. When I discovered that Keele offered a masters course which enabled me to explore the relationship between my work as a creative professional and education, I had little hesitation in enrolling.

The programme is delivered on a semi distance learning basis, which involves taught sessions for each module that are supported by a range of on-line and text based materials.  For me, this allows my present work commitments to continue, yet offers the chance to mix with creative professionals from across the country, from all walks of life.  The perspectives this opens up can’t be underestimated.  At master’s level, where you’re encouraged to critique your own views and those of others, and what better opportunity could there be?

Anyone taking the course must be prepared to work for their award. Reading what’s been written, assessing the evidence for arguments made, making honest consideration of your own perspective: all this makes for a challenging course. To keep down a job while writing assignments takes some effort. I can vouch for the wealth of experience, resource and support available, but ultimately it’s the work of your own hand that brings the rewards.

I had already gained some discipline of independent study, having undertaken Open University courses leading to a degree. In preparation for Keele’s programme I had considered the time implications and the type of work roles I could cope with whilst studying. I’ve found that properly planning my diary has helped a lot during the course.

I find that knowing that my colleagues on the course are engaged in the same tasks is reassuring. The conversations that take place during tutorial sessions can spark off some dormant thought or recollection, or spin me around to a point of view I had’t really considered.

Satisfying and stimulating would be the words I’d use to encapsulate the Keele learning experience.

This programme compels you to look at what creativity might mean, and what it might be in education. It asks that you evaluate educational practice and issues of fairness and opportunity. I’d say consider this course if any of these aspects concern you, especially if you feel you are creative yourself.

I would recommend willingness to, and practice at being honest with yourself. I feel that the reflection on my own practice and awareness of my own circumstances and viewpoint demanded by the course make this quality indispensable. It would also be a good idea to get into the habit of reading for purpose if this is something you are not familiar with.

Rachael Ward

Rachael Ward attended Keele University after completing her A’levels in History, English and Psychology. At University she achieved a First Class Degree Honours in English and History. She then went on to complete a PGCE at Keele University and started teaching on completion. She is now a Secondary English Consultant for the Local Authority.

I feel that sustaining a critical awareness is an integral part of my profession. Keeping abreast of current practices and consistently seeking to challenge, question and develop them is fundamental to teaching. It is a skill that I feel will help me understand my own practice and that of others in greater depth. Being able to scrutinize practices, ideologies and policies is a key part, not only of my own education, but those that I teach.  One of the most rewarding aspects of the course is being able to discuss and share other perspectives. It is also rewarding to have my own perceptions challenged.  Such critical debates are extremely enjoyable. 

It is a challenging course in terms of the time management and the balance that needs to be struck between work and the course. It is also demanding in that you need to consistently link the course to your practice, ensuring that the material, ideas and perspectives you have gained have a noticeable impact.

In terms of time management, my ability to meet these demands has varied. It is frustrating sometimes when I have not been able to read as much as I would have liked. I have tried to overcome these by allocating setting aside clear time for my assignments.

I found it extremely interesting to see teaching from the many different ‘worlds’ that exist in education. This course opens these worlds to you so that good practice, ideas and different perspectives can be accessed.

If I was to sum my experience of the course in three words, they would be: challenging, revealing and empowering. 

I would recommend this course with the words that I used to sum up my experience. It is healthy to be challenged sometimes and without this course, you could continue to be the mouthpiece for policies and practices that you do not necessarily agree with, hence it is revealing. Furthermore, once you begin to appreciate the layers that lie behind such policies you are not only empowered but you can empower others to stimulate change.

My advice to any prospective students to this course would be for them to ask whether they have a desire to change things, or even just understand their profession at a deeper level, as this intrinsic curiosity will drive you through the most challenging aspects of the course. I would also advise future students to be prepared to allocate time to reading the set texts and around the course and to remember that only one thing can be done at any one time.