Justin Maclaren

Justin Maclaren

Final-year student, Bachelor of Education (Primary Teaching)

About to graduate with a Bachelor of Education this August, Justin Maclaren came to teaching after a successful career in music and entertainment; a passion he hopes to share with his students.

“As a parent and community playgroup member I discovered the rewards of working with children, and in particular the enjoyment of sharing practical and musical know-how, which I’ve acquired over the years, working in a variety of creative contexts. My Bachelor of Education will allow me to apply these abilities in a focused, meaningful and professional capacity, and positively contribute to the lives of children.”

Deciding where to study was easy, says Justin who has already secured a teaching position when he finishes his studies.

“AUT had been recommended to me by teacher friends who worked closely with AUT students during their teaching practicums and were impressed with the quality of the AUT teaching students. AUT has a good reputation among practising teachers, and that was certainly an important part of my decision to study here. Being able to start my studies in July also suited me in terms of timing and working around other commitments.”

The support to succeed
After struggling in his own early education, Justin initially had some doubts if he would succeed at university. However, he needn’t have worried.

“The Bachelor of Education was designed in a way that recognised and supported the diversity of students. The assessments are primarily essay-based and often allow for creative responses to questions, which really suited my learning style and helped me to build my confidence. As this was my first experience of higher education, I initially felt a bit confused about essay writing formats and accessing and referencing research literature. Fortunately, AUT provided a range of specialised workshops that cover these requirements in detail.”

He would highly recommend the degree to others considering a career in teaching, Justin says.

“Although this is a full-time programme, the workload is designed in a way that is manageable around work and family commitments. I found the philosophy of education papers particularly interesting and did well in them, despite having no real understanding about philosophy before commencing study.

“I’ve become quite passionate about progressive education, in particular whānau style learning environments, and the balance of power in education. I’ve become more socially aware through this programme and am excited to have the opportunity to push for positive change from within the system.”

Advice for other students
Justin has some great advice for other students.

“Before anything else, do your readings, and if you don’t understand them, read them again. When you find something in a reading that grabs your imagination, dig deeper into it and see where it leads.”

Try to find a different angle when you’re writing an essay, he adds.

“Think of a lecturer marking 140 essays about the same thing, so look for that interesting angle, even if it seems slightly left-field. Keep your writing simple, don’t over complicate it unnecessarily.”

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