January seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye. Spectacular as the New Year’s fireworks in central London might be, my friends and I decided that we didn’t fancy heading into town early in the day to secure a good spot, and neither did we want to get stuck on our way home. Instead, we all met up at our place in the evening and later headed out to a great pub just around the corner to celebrate the new year and everything that it might bring.
January also saw me finishing my first school placement in South-West London. I was sad to leave pupils and fellow staff behind but didn’t have much time to wallow as I had to wrap up my final lessons and meet a deadline for a written assignment. I spent many days and some nights at the IOE library, drawing on research and my own experience to explore how teachers can use oracy and dialogue to help pupils make progress in history. Research and reflection are such important cornerstones of learning, and I really enjoyed studying a key theme such as this in more detail – but, needless to say, I was equally relived when I could finally hand in the finished assignment!
Weekends are always great for trips, and I had a lovely time heading out to the town of Canterbury in South-East England on a Sunday, which is just an hour away on the train. Canterbury is a very historic place with a famous cathedral that is the setting of many stories and myths. Despite a very intense hail storm, it was great to explore the town with my own eyes and put some British history in a personal perspective. On a separate weekend my flatmates and I went on a trip on the Northern Line to see Highgate Cemetery. The cemetery was established in 1836 and over 170,000 people are buried there, including the German philosopher Karl Marx (who was born in my hometown of Trier in the West of Germany) and other well-known figures such as the author Douglas Adams and the historian Eric Hobsbawm. The cemetery itself is architecturally stunning – it is situated on the top of a hill in North London, overseeing much of the surrounding area, and many of the 53,000 graves are old Victorian Gothic designs. It was both slightly eerie and peaceful to walk around in silence and to think about the stories behind some of the gravestone inscriptions. It’s become somewhat of a cliché tourist attraction, but I would still strongly recommend it to anyone visiting the city on a sunny day.
My classmates and I are currently back full-time at university attending lectures and seminars on a wide range of issues in education and history teaching, from Holocaust education to assessment strategies. It’s great to see how much we’ve all progressed since our first days all the way back in September. We all now have hours and hours of additional experience that we can relate to our theoretical understanding, and it will be interesting to see how this might change some of our perspectives!