At the end of teacher training college 30+ years ago, a group of us spent a week in the Cairngorms, based at Glenmore Lodge. It was five days that cemented my love of the mountains and that wonderful spot by Loch Morlich.
In a sense, it was an odd end to a peculiar year. Teacher training back then was different; working now with probationers I’m inspired by their knowledge and reflection on their craft.
In the mid seventies we were underwhelmed by the lectures on sociology, psychology, and method, and cast adrift in our teacher placements.
It seemed an odd mix between the overly formal and the laissez faire. So, the idea that we should head for the Cairngorms, with some college staff, and explore a range of disciplines outside our subject qualifications, seemed idiosyncratically beyond our college experience.
It was an absolutely outstanding experience – which certainly was the foundation of my consistent promotion of Outdoor Education, but also underlined the value of thinking outside the box, interdisciplinary approaches, and the forging of extracurricular contact – for staff as well as pupils.
I couldn’t have been more astonished had An Fearlas Mor – the ghostly Big Gray Man himself – tapped me on the shoulder.
In my family, laughter was best achieved by asking my dad and his brothers to draw a horse, and I fulfilled genetic expectations with15% in my Art exam. Yet, here I was , 2B pencil in hand, fretting about perspective!
Though considered bizarre at the time (rumours abounded of St Trinnean’s girls being forced to eat their meals starting with the dessert), its principles don’t seem so weird today: to tailor each student's programme to his or her needs, interests and abilities; to promote both independence and dependability; to enhance the student's social skills and sense of responsibility toward others. Indeed, it would lie quite comfortably alongside the principles of the Curriculum for Excellence.
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