New degree offers insight, inspiration

Kirsten McGilvray and Natasha Sutherland are doing the new B Ed Secondary in maths and physics, part of an innovative teaching degree developed by Dr Ali Sammel

A degree convened by Griffith University’s Dr Alison Sammel is addressing both the shortage of mathematics and physics teachers in Australia and the reality of the 21st century classroom.

Newly offered at the Gold Coast campus in 2013, Dr Sammel said the Bachelor of Education – Secondary embraced a holistic approach to provide students with a comprehensive knowledge of their subject and an equally substantial insight into the modern teaching experience.

A lecturer at Griffith’s School of Education and Professional Studies and a chemistry, biology and physics teacher of long experience, Dr Sammel said the degree recognised the key to being a good teacher relied on more than knowledge alone.

“The contemporary classroom presents many challenges, especially for new teachers,” Dr Sammel said.

“They may deal with disabled students, students in difficult home circumstances and from different cultures, in fact all kinds of situations that might fall outside the realm of a teacher’s particular subject and yet are all part of contemporary teaching.

“That’s why the B Ed – Secondary is devised to provide students with high quality science and education degrees, an understanding of the contemporary classroom and, perhaps most importantly, the skills to maintain and then pass on the sense of curiosity and wonder so important for exciting learning and inspiring teaching.”

Established in association with Griffith’s Science, Environment, Engineering and Technology Group (SEET), the revised Bachelor of Education – Secondary was launched in 2012 and the Gold Coast campus welcomed its first students this year.

“Australia is crying out for more maths and physics teachers and hopefully this degree will be one way to address that shortage by providing job-ready, highly qualified and highly engaged graduates,” Dr Sammel said.

Gold Coast students Natasha Sutherland and Kirsten McGilvray agreed the new degree ideally suited their talents and ambitions.

“I came through Pacific Pines State High School and it had an excellent maths and physics program and so this degree just leapt out at me,” Natasha said.

“This is my first year of a three-year degree and it’s pretty intense, but I’m into the quantum stuff and the nuclear physics. I’m just wired that way, I suppose.”

Kirsten, with omnipresent skateboard under her arm, said the course was demanding but engaging and she was excited about perhaps pursuing Honours and a PhD.

“Some people are good at essays and some are good at music. I’m good at numbers and patterns,” Kirsten said.

“I’m not interested in being told that something works. I want to know how it works, why it works and what happens when it works and once I have that knowledge, I’m looking forward to being able to pass it on to my own students.”