Saturday, 27 August 2016

Education; a blessing and a curse.


I would say that I received a reasonably good education, even if I went to one of the worst secondary schools in my local area. Let's be completely honest, most inner London schools at any level are not exactly seen as fantastic; many people would argue that unless you pay a significant amount of money you don't get a good education. From the age of 5-8 I went to a Church of England Primary School and hated the majority of my time there, mostly because I was bullied for most of the years spent there. Aged 8-11 I went to a school in the neighbouring borough and statistically it was the best school in the surrounding area. I was probably my happiest at school during this time, for no particular reason. I excelled and genuinely enjoyed learning at this point, possibly because I felt settled and had a good group of friends.

At 11 years old, I went back in the Church of England School system and although the school went from being statistically excellent to inadequate I did enjoy my time there. During this time I definitely found myself and my interest in art... In fact I never really did anything but art whilst I was there but it was actually comforting to be encouraged to do well at something I loved. The school itself was very regimented, even to the point the amount of stripes on your tie were counted as you entered the school gates and naturally I rebelled.

Unfortunately I'm one of those people who doesn't enjoy being told what to do, what to dress or how to behave and obviously at a strict school that doesn't go down well and I struggled to fit in with the expectations given to me through the 5 years I spent in secondary education. It was during my secondary years that I realised that I have more mental health problems than the average person but somehow I managed to pass all subjects, with my highest grade being A and lowest being a D. I had the potential to do better but lacked the necessary self control to do better. Basically, I focussed on subjects that I wanted to do well in and had planned to later study at A-level.

Moving on to sixth form, I would say these years were the worst two years of my life. I enjoyed my studies, actually. I studied English Literature, Art and Photography but ultimately I really struggled to fit in, having not attended the school before, everyone already had friends and no interest in including me in anything. Sounds strange but it ruined my confidence and definitely had a negative affect on my mental health and in all honesty I was just desperate for those two years to be over to move on and go to university. Since the age of around 14 I had been interested in perusing a career in teaching and so going to university was the obvious next step, and I somehow managed to pass my A-Levels with reasonably good grades and gain a place at university.

In all honesty I wasn't exactly overjoyed with the university I went to; it wasn't a university I applied to thinking 'I would love to go here', but out of 5 choices I was accepted into 2 and so I made the decision to choose whichever I preferred of the two. Looking back I actually regret not taking a gap year and re-applying to university, but at the time I was thinking, well next year the fees are increasing and I was determined to graduate with the least amount of debt that I could, to the point that I refused to consider to apply to universities outside of London, or even move out of my family home during university. As I chose to study Art, I had to first complete a foundation year and this was a year that I really enjoyed. I love being about to learn about all kinds of art and exploring what form of art suited me and what I wanted to persue. I passed my foundation with a B and I was actually so happy when I saw I got 100% in a photography module. During this year my mental health was at its most controlled and a that definitely shows through my results and how much I learned during that year.

After that I decided to study BA (Hons) Fine Art and I chose not to change universities because of financial reasons and having such a amazing time during the foundation year that I was genuinely excited for what laid ahead. During my first year at university, I really enjoyed the work and found that drawing and photography were my main interests. It was more difficult than most people would assume, as everyone that I knew outside of art college always had an assumption that art is easy, when actually I always had a literal mountain of work to complete, alongside essays. I passed the year with good grades and was looking forward to starting second year, having enjoyed the first.

Second year was where it all went a bit downhill; I struggled with my mental health again after the realisation that this course wasn't really what I had hoped. After discovering my love for drawing in first year, I then found out that drawing was not an option in second year and I chose to dabble in sculpture... However the kinds of sculptures that I created were not exactly typical sculptures and i had to argue my way a lot, which was a nightmare. I also began having panic attacks and struggled to speak out loud or voice my opinions. I debated dropping out many times, but I suppose what kept me going was not only the fear of 'failure', but also a hope that if I made it to the final year, that it was be better towards the end.

In all honesty, third year was strangely bittersweet. On the one hand, I realised that I absolutely detested the practical work. On the other hand, I realised that my dissertation was the most interesting part of the university experience for me and I'm still proud that I managed not to drop out and finish the whole four years, somehow. Throughout my education I was never top at anything, always slightly more remarkable than average but I never really achieved anything of importance. Now that I've finished education (unless my crazy self does eventually follow through with a masters) I can that my fear of failure still exists, albeit in a different context, but I'm not longer afraid of being average. In fact I've learnt that I have to accept it. It didn't matter how much or little was paid for my education, my grades wouldn't have been better or worse as it is dependant on me and not a financial situation.

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