17 February, 2014

Molding the Minds of Young Dubliners

Much of my time in Dublin has been spent in classes or on field trips. Though I make it seem as all we do it socialize and travel and immerse within the city, we did come here to study. The liberal arts courses here with Champlain Abroad Dublin are specific to Ireland and sometimes the EU. This is specifically evident with classes that are based on the history of Ireland, both the revolutionary acts, and how Ireland came to be today. Classes that are focused on art and writing within the historical city of Dublin also make this experience all the more special. What other school could you come to where teachers make sure you are given the best chance to travel and explore? But, on the same hand, teachers make sure that you are given an absolutely special educational experience.

Personally I was not sure as too what to expect for classes arriving here, and I’m happy I had no preconceived notions of this. The classes really surprised me because I’ll be honest; there are always one or two classes that I cannot stand. But here in Ireland each of my classes is extremely enjoyable. Each of the professors is extremely unique and special with all of them coming from completely different backgrounds. One thing that I have found with the classes in Dublin is that are run very similarly to classes back in Burlington in the sense that there is a chance for a lot of open discourse. A good portion of the classes are lecture based, but do not let that scare you away. The lectures here are nothing like you would expect them to be. They are in no way monotonous, but engaging and informative. The professors do a good job of keeping the lectures easy to follow with jokes and stories sprinkled in. But, at the same time, the professors are extremely open to questions that can lead to extremely interesting discussions. So far, the classes have been one of the definite positives because the professors are able to recommend good places to eat, travel, and what attractions to see.

Mount Temple's Coat of Arms
My favorite class that I am able to be apart of is the 'Community Advocacy and Inquiry Dublin' (EHS300). This is a course directed at mainly Education, Psychology and Social work majors and it gives us a chance to either do a service learning placement in a school or community based organization. 

For the semester I am placed at the Mount Temple Comprehensive School. Mount Temple is one of the most prestigious schools in Ireland and was officially started in the 1970s after the combination of 3 schools in Clontarf.  It was the first multi-denominational public (state-funded) school under protestant management to open in Dublin. Mount Temple, ironically enough, is the same school where the international band U2 got their start. The school, rich with history, is in many ways extremely similar to an American high school. I am placed in 4 classes working with students from ages 13-16. The main thing that my supervising teachers told me was that I would have complete control over what I would be teaching. Lucky for the students I chose Walt Whitman. I’m beginning the students with Whitman because for one, he is the quintessential American poet, and secondly, if the students understand, or at least appreciate Whitman, it will make all the other poetry they read much easier to grasp. 

My first day taking over one of the classes was a train wreck. I came into the 2nd Year (13-14 years old) so excited to teach that I pretty much did not explain anything about Whitman. I stood up there with 30 blank faces staring back at me with no idea what was going on. I would honestly call those 40 minutes one of the most awkward times in my short life. But, I came back into that same class one week later and showed those kids who Walt Whitman was. I walked in with a Prezi in hand and my confidence soaring, and was able to engage 30 students who had only one-week prior unconsciously made my normally sky-high confidence, plummet down to the ground.  This one experience not only reassured that I want to teach, but also proved that I will have what it takes to keep students engaged for 40 minutes. This single opportunity is what will make this semester one that I will honestly remember forever.

Nick Veazey
Champlain Abroad Dublin, Spring ‘14
Champlain College, Secondary Education ‘15

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