By: Sofia Soledad D.G. De Guzman, M.A. | September 2020
Being able to study abroad is perhaps a dream of every educator. The need to continuously learn stems from a teacher’s desire to be the best he or she can be in class. This is more important at this time of technological advancements and innovations. A teacher could find one’s self in awe of how much information a student could access, retrieve and use in this age of social media and online resources. Knowing this, a teacher could feel both excitement and fear.
I am one of those teachers who wish to find ways to better guide my students. I believe that educating myself continuously is one of the ways I could remain effective in both my instruction and relation to students. I have always desired to learn from the best. Hence, when the College of Education of Miriam College offered a joint master’s degree in designing education, I did not hesitate. I immediately forwarded my requirements and hoped for the best. The fact that the degree will be managed by two educational institutions intrigued me a lot. Miriam College has always been known for its academic excellence especially in the field of education. Its collaboration with the Goldsmiths, University of London made a whole lot of difference. I knew that Goldsmiths’ prominence in the field of design will offer a new perspective in education. And this was what I needed most as an educator, most especially at this time where facts need to be verified, truths strongly upheld, and values re-evaluated.
The programme I applied for is a product of the Transnational Education (TNE) programme of the governments of the Philippines and the United Kingdom. Its primary aim is not only to make international graduate studies affordable, but to also make it meaningful for Filipino educators. By offering graduate degrees that will be jointly managed by Philippine-based educational institutions like Miriam College and a UK university, Filipino educators could learn from experts on subject areas that are considered national priorities of the Philippines. It also highlights the importance of integrating internationalisation goals and partnerships in addressing local challenges. I applied and was admitted to study M.A. in Designing Education or MADE. It is one of the niche programmes that was developed and implemented under this joint agreement.
In design thinking, a different mindset is introduced to understand failure. This is called 'productive failure' where learning is focused on the processes that students go through rather than the results they produce. With this mindset, failure becomes a a productive tool for learning because students learn to calibrate, re-calibrate, do and redo their work and do things differently to achieve their goals.
Our class has a total of 11 students. When we attended our foundational courses, we went beyond individual or group reports, reading materials, taking exams or writing papers. Our primary learning was anchored on productive failure, which is an essential element of design. Our task was to come up with individual design projects which underwent a lot of iteration. Following the framework of design thinking, our design projects had a lot of vision from improving teacher mentorship, to visual storytelling, student wellness, and a lot more. We learned much from the learning process that highly valued feedback and collaborative learning. In the last phase of the foundational courses, we took our design projects to Goldsmiths, University of London to gather more feedback from our professors.
Like first graders, we arrived in London feeling anxious, worried but excited. It was a celebration of many ‘firsts’ – first time to leave the country, study abroad, to be apart from family, etc.
Our individual rooms at Loring Hall made our stay very convenient. The feeling of being in a campus brought back a lot of college memories for many of us. The dorm even has its own huge kitchen and dining area. This is where we gathered around not only for dinner but also to share and process the day’s activities.
The level of security is also commendable. You must use a key card for each floor, wing and door. Your access to areas in the campus is well-controlled.
The classrooms at Goldsmiths are different from our usual classrooms in the Philippines. At first glance, one could already say it is a learning place that values flexibility. Chairs and tables could be easily moved around to appropriately match teaching strategy.
All materials were provided to the class. Instructional tools were evident in each classroom and their resources at the library is almost limitless.
Our engagement with our professors made our study tour very memorable. Their feedback was critical to the design of our projects. What I found very appealing was the way they emphasised importance of context. They stressed the value of Philippine context—interest of Filipino students, educational system, current challenges, internationalisation of goals and more.
London as a city is known for its multiculturalism. While one would see its rich history by simply looking at its architectural structures and visiting its museums, it is undeniable that its present and future society will remain respectful of language, culture, religion and beliefs of all people. This is likewise evident in the manner we engaged ourselves in discussions with our professors from Goldsmiths. Our design projects are all anchored on such philosophy.
Now that our class is back in the Philippines to take the other courses at Miriam College, we look forward to learning more about how education is and should be designed given our students’ context at present. Our design projects will soon be implemented, and we hope that we will all bring significant contributions to Philippine education. I am very optimistic that we are truly ‘MADE’ for this challenge.