Suzy Mangnall is a part-time on-campus student on the PGDip Deaf Education course at Manchester, which is aimed at qualified teachers who want to train as a Teacher of the Deaf. Here, she tells us what a typical day on the course involves…
For the last two years, I have been studying for the PGDip in Deaf Education part-time, alongside my job at Doncaster School for the Deaf. This means I attend university once a week (full-time students attend twice a week) and then work the other four days at the school, where I have been able to practice and apply what I’ve learnt.
People come from all over the country to study here and some people have very long journeys, so our day starts a little later to make sure people travelling a long way have time to get here.
I have been commuting from Sheffield by train each week, which means that I’ve been able to wake up for my university days at about the same time as I’d normally get up for work, and still easily arrive with time for a quick coffee and a chat with everyone before the day starts proper at 10:00am.
The morning session lasts for three hours, with a short comfort break at about 11.30am. Our lectures tend to be more interactive than I had expected; they often include a mix of direct lecturing, reading and discussion of relevant academic texts and watching videos, as well as some more hands-on activities designed to get us thinking about how we can use what we’ve learnt in the real world.
My favourite activities are the ones where we are given a scenario to pick apart, based on the real experiences of qualified teachers of the deaf. These activities give me a real insight into the types of issues that I may face in the future, and give me a chance to reflect on my own practice and how I can improve it.
When it’s time for lunch, there is no shortage of choice. You can either bring your own lunch or venture out to one of the many cafes nearby fairly cheaply.
I like to pop over to the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons and pick up some soup or a toastie, but in the past the whole group have gone to the Small World Café at the International Society for something more interesting.
The afternoon session will generally focus on a different unit to whatever was studied in the morning, which makes for a nice change of pace. For example, we could be learning about how a child’s language develops and considering where a deaf child may need support in the morning sessions, and then looking at the inner workings and maintenance of hearing aids in the afternoon, with a practical session where we get to play with the technology and practice the daily skills we will need as teachers of the deaf.
For me personally, one of the big benefits to being on campus is that if my brain is still reeling from the morning’s information, the lecturers can adapt their pace and approach to make sure I still benefit from the session.
There have been a few afternoons, I think, that had I been learning from home, I’d have been tempted to give up for the day, go and make a snack, or take one too many breaks to reward myself for the morning’s hard work, but the lecturers on this course know how to keep you engaged and have kept me on track.
Most days finish around 5:00pm, but that isn’t the end of our work for the week. On-campus students also have access to the fantastically thorough online materials available to e-learners and there are reading lists and online lectures and activities that you can go through at home. This is particularly useful when lecturers set reading for the following week, or when you are researching an assignment.
Over the past two years, I have been taught about Deaf Education, not just as a teacher, but also from a scientific, psychological, sociological and linguistic perspective. I can honestly say that studying the course has been one of the most interesting and eye-opening experiences of my life. It’s hard work, but it’s well worth it.
Learn more about studying for a MSc or PGDip in Deaf Education at The University of Manchester.