Averett Education Students partner with the University of Wales!
May 2012 saw the start of Averett’s partnership with the University of Wales Trinity Saint-David in Carmarthen, Wales. Three students from Averett’s education department, along with Department Chair Dr. Pamela Riedel, traveled to Carmarthen for two weeks to learn about the Welsh education system and teacher education programs. Generously hosted by the University of Wales, we received a unique, hands-on experience in the Welsh public school system.
Over the course of our visit, we visited three different primary schools – the Model Church in Wales school, the Maes y Morfa school, and the Tavernspite school. Each provided a unique perspective on the Welsh education system – and, indeed, on the field of elementary education overall. At the Morfa school we saw how a failing school in one of the worst neighborhoods in the country was transformed into an award-winning, progressive educational institution. At Tavernspite, we traveled to the ‘Forest School,’ an off-site, outdoor ‘classroom’ that allows children to learn through immersion in their environment. The Model Church in Wales school, partnered with the University of Wales, allowed us to fully experience what it is like to be an educator in the Welsh primary schools – we shadowed teachers in different grades for several days, getting to interact with and know the children, and even teach a few lessons of our own.
During our time in the Welsh schools, we experienced first-hand the differences between the American and Welsh education systems. Most notable was the bilingual approach to education adopted in Wales. Begun as a method to ensure the survival of the Welsh language, children in Wales have the option of attending either Welsh-medium schools, where all classes are presented in Welsh, or English-medium schools – though all students are required to take Welsh classes. We came home with a few words in our vocabularies too– diolch (thank you)!
Although our studies kept us busy, we did have time to explore the beautiful country of Wales. We visited Dolaucothi, a gold mine that dates back to the Roman times, and Carreg Cennen, an ancient Welsh castle, as well as renowned poet Dylan Thomas’ home and the beachside resort of Tenby (where we were introduced to how delicious a plate of fish and chips can be)! We also visited London, where we saw such famous sights as the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace – in addition to taking in a few shows in the theater district.
The opportunity to be fully immersed in another culture is rare indeed, and as an education major, this trip proved an amazing, invaluable experience. This will be the first of many such exchanges between Averett and the University of Wales, providing more future educators with the chance to take this wonderful journey.