I used to believe I couldn’t succeed; now I’ve got my dream job, says Christine Macilquham, a Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) graduate from Whitireia Community Polytechnic, who is now employed by a kindergarten where she did some of her teaching experience.
"I just love being with kids," Christine says, "and I really mean being with them, because being involved with their learning experiences is not just a job, it’s important for me being me. If that sounds a bit odd, that’s because I know how crucial it is for kids being OK about learning. I gave up on school because I kept being told I wasn’t good enough, and that I needed to try harder. The pathetic thing is that I’ve now understood that I ‘m really very good at learning, but that my approach to learning didn’t fit with how I was being taught."
It wasn’t until Christine’s friends commented on how wonderful she was with kids at the creche she worked at part-time, that she wondered if she could do better. "I had such low self-esteem and I lacked the confidence to even think about going back to somewhere like that awful classroom I ran away from years ago," she says. "Just making the decision to consider doing a course was a huge challenge, and, now I look back on it, choosing the Whitireia course has helped me change my life’s course."
"Something I’ve never forgotten is my friends saying to me 'don’t ever lose your enthusiasm for what you see in and believe about children.' And what Whitireia gave me was the opportunity to build on my own insights and beliefs about children’s learning experiences. Over the three years of my course I’ve not only learned an enormous amount about early childhood education I’ve also regained my confidence and self-esteem about my own learning. I now know how terribly important that sense of self is to successful learning, and how often and how easily it can be disrupted in young children."
"People ask me what makes the Whitireia course different, and I say most of all it’s the commitment to cooperative learning¬–tutors and students working alongside each other with a practical hands-on approach. Take art for example, I never liked art because I thought it was messy. But after being encouraged to experiment with different media I’ve really taken to drawing with charcoal and I like smudging to create tone and shading in my drawings. Now when I do art, I’m a totally different person."
Christine’s learning experience at Whitireia Community Polytechnic has not only turned her life around, it has also assured her of the importance of everyone being able to express their own thoughts and ideas. "Through validating my own learning, I’ve learnt how important that is for children’s personal learning," Christine says.