Introduction: A timeline of my education and key learning points in my life
This essay is about a reflection of my own learning journey in relation to underpinning educational theory. However, before I reflect, narrate and relate this journey, I seek to provide a brief overview of the educational timeline or system in my country. There are five key stages of education: Early Years Education, Primary Education, Secondary Education, Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE) (Parkay et al., 2014). The beginning of formal education is Early Years Education; this takes places in various places such as state nursery schools, private nursery schools, nursery classes and reception classes within state or private primary schools. The Early Years education is entitled to children aged three and/or four years. Basically, the Early Education or nursery education is sometimes considered to be part of Primary Education. However, it is not a key stage. Primary Education has two key stages with different age ranges. The first stage, also known as “infant” or Key Stage 1 enrolls 5 to 7 year olds. The second stage which is referred to as “junior” or Key Stage 2 admits the 7 year olds who have successfully completed their Key Stage 1. Key Stage 1 roughly takes 4 years long and completes the Primary Education. The third of stage of education is Secondary Education. It generally takes 5 years from 11 year olds up to 16 year olds. Upon successful completion, students are awarded General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). At this point, it is important to note that the Early Years Education, Primary Education and Secondary Education form the basic education and therefore compulsory to children of ages 4-16 years.
From Secondary Education, a child may choose to proceed to Further Education which is the fourth stage of education. Further Education is post compulsory education that is distinct from the education offered in Higher Education. It takes only two years and it is sometimes referred to as “A Level” education. Usually, FE involves learners who are 16 years and above. FE is taught in FE colleges, adult and community learning institutions as well as work-based learning. According to O’Connor (2016), upon completion of two-year further education, the prospective granduands have three available options: apply to universities, apply for employment or join apprenticeship. This leads us to the fifth and final stage of education, Higher Education (HE). This education is for people of about 18 years or older who are at the University level. The courses offered at this level are higher than GCE and Advanced level (Gould and Taylor, 2017). The HE has two major courses: the undergraduate courses leading to first degree attainment and Postgraduate courses leading to higher degrees such as Masters and Doctorates as well as Postgraduate diplomas and certificates.
Having given a brief background of the education system in the country, I now shift focus to the key learning points in my life. Among the five stages of education discussed above, I find four of the stages as critical learning points in my life: the Primary Education, Secondary Education, Further Education, and Higher Education. In this essay, I seek to reflect and narrate my learning and teaching experiences as I moved through these stages while relating these experiences to the underlying educational theory. In this analysis, I incorporate specific areas such as motivation theory, others influence over my decision making, learning styles, principles of adult learning and theories of learning. It is also important to note that in doing this analysis; I have chosen to give it two major headings that cover pedagogical learning and teaching experiences and andragogical experiences. Under pedagogical, I take a look at my childhood experiences in Primary and Secondary education. At the andragogical level, I reflect on learning experiences as an adult with focus on Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE).
Primary and Secondary Education
Like many other education systems in the world, the major goals of primary education in my country are achieving basic literacy and numeracy amongst all pupils as well as establishing foundations in science, mathematics, and other subjects. Primary education was the most exciting period of my educational life. I would describe myself during this time, as a pupil who was “ready to learn”. Like many children, I was curious and eager to know reading and writing and doing basic numeric. I was eager to learn new concept and understand what science, history, geography were all about. However, this curiosity did not apply to all the subjects. Nevertheless, reflecting back on my desire to learn during my primary education, I am now able to understand that I had internal motivation to learn. In the context of motivational learning theory, motivation is defined as ‘internal drive that activates behavior and gives it direction’. My learning experience in primary education was characterized by the desire to achieve and a feeling of satisfaction. Accordingly, I was an active pupil in class and performed excellently.