… by Emma / from NJ, USA / BSc Mathematics / 2nd Year (UG)
One of the beauties of being a student in a city is that more often than not, the students become influential in the city. This is certainly the case here in Edinburgh. Back home, as a high school student, I was also able to be quite integrated in the city I went to school in. For instance, I was not only a peer tutor at my high school for math, but I also tutored younger, primary-school students at a local church. So, when I came to Edinburgh, I was ultimately keen for a similar opportunity.
Last year, I decided to apply to become a Curriculum Ambassadors. Curriculum Ambassadors is a scheme where University students partner with local primary schools in need of assistance where there is a lack of resources or people in a specific subject. I applied for the position hoping to help a primary school class with math. The application process was rather straightforward – submitting your CV, writing a statement as to why you would like the position, and an informal interview. I was fortunate enough to receive the position and was partnered with a nearby primary school in Liberton.
Walking into the primary school for the first time, I realized that I quite frankly hadn’t been in a primary school in a very long time. I also admittedly was a bit nervous as children can be intimidating! However, the students and the teacher who I would be working with were very welcoming and keen to learn math. In my first class, I simply observed the students and the class, asking here and there who enjoyed math. I found it interesting that there were some who did indeed enjoy math, while some were “good” at it but did not find it terribly fun, and some who neither enjoyed it nor considered themselves “good” at it. As with most subjects, the students possessed different levels of understanding. I admit I was not very up to date on Primary 6 math curriculum, however each week that I visited the school, the teacher would explain to me that week’s topic and aims.
Because of the varying levels of students in the class, I was able to work specifically with a group of about five to six students each week who were particularly excelling at math. So, for the most part, I did not need to create any sort of curriculum of my own. I did, however, bring “challenge” problems for the students to complete once we finished working through the assigned material. I was ultimately able to work with the students once a week from around mid-October to the beginning of April.
It was overall quite an enjoyable experience for me. For one, working with children is much different than working with university students, and I must say it was quite a nice change to the rigorous and fast-paced life that is being a University student. I also learned quite a bit from the students, perhaps as much as they learned from me.
Although at the moment I’m still indecisive about whether or not teaching is something I would like to pursue in the future as a career, I am quite passionate about education. The opportunity was neat to see how students at such a young age have already somewhat determined what path of curriculum they enjoy studying.
I would certainly recommend this opportunity to those who are considering education as a career or who, like myself, are simply interested in working with children in classroom setting.