Mosca’s fulfilled a life-long dream
When I looked at my ten-year-old daughter watching me, I knew it had been worth the struggle… Perhaps a little background would help illustrate why this moment was such a milestone?
At the age of ten, because of an inspirational primary school teacher who gave me confidence and the realisation that my light was brighter than I’d previously thought, I decided I wanted to teach. I had severe to profound deafness which had been discovered only by accident during a routine school check. At around the age of seven or eight, I was given my first hearing aid and I was to continue at mainstream primary school.
In those days, there was very little support at school, apart from being told to sit at the front of the class. I thought I coped pretty well but towards the end of the GCEs, as they were then called, I was bored so attended school as little as possible. Growing up in Blackpool meant that I could spend time at the beach smoking with friends, or at the library – and that was better than sitting in class, listening. The sixth form was bewildering because I couldn’t keep up writing notes, and felt thick. When I asked about teacher training college and was told that I would fail the medical. There was no other route into teaching discussed so I felt that it was the end of the road for education. I think I was depressed and felt angry with everyone and myself.
Fast-forwarding a couple of years to avoid all the details of me going off the rails – that is another story in itself!
I decided I still wanted to work with children, so went off to Germany to work as an au-pair at the age of 19. I had intended to return and go to college as a mature student, but this was delayed by 16 years as I stayed, married and had children.
At the age of 35, I left Germany and my marriage and embarked upon an Open University degree which I thought would be better than having to sit in classrooms. I can honestly say that this was probably one of the best things I have decided to take on, in terms of building my self-esteem. Indeed I had always said to my girls that education is one thing that you cannot be stripped of. There was still a niggling chip on my shoulder from my youth, and I started digging online about that teaching qualification. After all, there was more than one way to skin a cat and teaching didn’t just mean standing in front of a class of 30 adolescents who were more interested in the latest social media challenge. First, I had to get a Maths GCSE which was surprisingly unproblematic – It had always been a bit of a magical experience without real explanation, at school. I felt that in adulthood I understood far more.
Starting my PGCE was monumental, it was putting all those demons to bed. I absolutely loved the experience. The training reminded me that there were limitations in being deaf, and I was able to adapt from there – using the training experience as a platform. Attending classes as an adult with brilliant tutors and classmates altered my perception of learning in groups because until then, I had only felt a sense of dread.
Graduating, which brings me to the first line of this dialogue, was one of my proudest moments. I was awarded for being an outstanding student, delivered the “Vote of Thanks,” and also won the Principal’s Award. I had started the course under extremely challenging circumstances and fulfilled a life-long dream.
Currently, I am studying an MA in Education, and I’m taking the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) pathway. My work will mainly focus on the experiences of D/deaf learners as in the future, I would like to continue research into educating D/deaf students, and hopefully influence policy. (Now that I have announced it in public, I’d better get it done!)
By Mosca Burns 2020
Deaf-initely Women’s note: That is a fantastic achievement and so you should be proud!
Please get in touch with Mosca to help out her research, email: Moscaburns2019@gmail.com