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January 15, 2013 1:45 AM   Subscribe

Australian secondary school teachers: is it madness to start a Dip Ed at 50?

After indulging in four years of early (poor) retirement, I realise I need to work. I could do a Cert III in health care (1 year) and work as a aged care worker (which I have done before but let my rego lapse). Or, I could do 1.5 yrs of a Dip Ed and become a secondary teacher (English).

I was a mature age undergraduate (BA) so I know I can study as an adult and I enjoy it. I did part of a Dip Library Studies externally (me Brisbane, uni Perth) and hated it. There was poor external support. This Grad Dip would also be external but the Uni is only 2hrs drive away and I could, if necessary, become an on-campus student.

I live in a rural NSW, non-coastal region. Many of the local teachers are reaching retirement age so a permanent job in my locale is not impossible.

Is this a pipe dream? I've had a few of those in my day, nudge nudge. If not, what should I think seriously about before signing up? I'm confident and I've had lots of life experience. My partner is supportive and I'm a young 50 (no kids!) plus I like young people for the people they are. What more should I consider?
posted by Kerasia to Education (6 answers total)
You might find the blog A Class of One's Own instructive. It's by a former corporate lawyer who chucked it in to Teach For Australia.
posted by pont at 2:05 AM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I was admin for a number of tertiary preservice teacher programs in two different universities. There were always a number of successful (very) mature age students in every cohort.

Here are the few things I think you should keep in mind (based on what I observed with some students):

a. depending on how recently you've been around kids, they've changed. This may be an unpleasant surprise.

b. depending on how recently you've been around high school education, it's changed, majorly.

c. when studying, it's vital to not appear as a know-it-all, for the sake of getting on with both your fellow uni students, and your mentor teacher.

d. Even though the most valuable part of your training will appear to be your practicum, realise the theory you get before you go out there makes all the difference.

e. in getting full time employment, your portfolio and practicum results will often be worth more than your grades.

Your age is not a barrier at all, in my opinion. Good luck.
posted by b33j at 5:28 AM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

My dad did this. He might have been older though. He now does relief work at the local high school 3 or 4 days a week, and really enjoys it. The kids all know him and he doesn't have to do (much) lesson planning or marking.

He did a lot of volunteer work at the school before he did his Dip Ed, and I think that helped with the decision making. Is there a nearby school with a volunteering program? P&C, mentoring, canteen?
posted by kjs4 at 2:34 PM on January 15, 2013

I'm an American living in Australia, so my mom's in the States... but she did a Master's part time, started when she was 50+, took her way longer than 1.5 years. She loves her job, and found her age beneficial to study (her kids were all grown up, experience, etc) and her work (she's an Applied Behaviour Analyst... parents of difficult kids far prefer an experienced mother of grandmotherly age giving them suggestions over some smart-ass single childless 23 yr old). She needed to work too - and enjoys her work very much. It is perfectly do-able.
posted by jrobin276 at 2:53 PM on January 15, 2013

Best answer: I'm finishing my teacher training in Melbourne (2 weeks until I start work, eep!), there are a good few people around 50 in my class, and I think all of them will make great teachers.

Make sure you check what your qualifications will allow you to teach. In Qld you'll want to talk to the College of Teachers. Go and talk to someone at the university to talk about what the course is like, especially if you have concern based on past experience. Go and talk to current teachers (especially English teachers if that's your thing) to make sure you know what you're getting yourself into.

Your age may in fact be of benefit. Your life experience is something that will help you in the classroom.
posted by robcorr at 10:26 PM on January 15, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I have just been accepted into my teaching course!
posted by Kerasia at 1:56 PM on February 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

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