Bonnie Sturgess, 27 April, 2022
After completing a degree in visual arts, Bonnie Sturgess travelled the world and worked abroad before returning to Brisbane to study a Master of Teaching (Secondary).
She now plans on teaching visual arts and history and hopes to permanently move to a developing country and establish herself in a community, where she can use both art and education to empower and support women and girls to improve their life’s trajectory.
Here she talks about her experiences at QUT.
What made you choose QUT?
I completed my previous degree at QUT and so I knew that I would be provided with the resources, physically and intellectually, to support me to further my education.
I also knew I’d have access to professionals in my field and lecturers/tutors who are extremely knowledgeable.
The university’s library has also been instrumental in education. Both the space and resources have supported me immensely over the years.
Did your bachelor’s degree influence the subjects you focused on in your masters?
My proposed teaching fields come from my personal interests in fine arts (visual arts) and history. I think these two fields in particular, encourage critical thinking, creative problem solving, independent analysis and prompt social reflection.
How do you think students will benefit through your specialisation?
Through the lens of developing practical skills such as techniques to creatively express and reconceptualise personal experiences and social critique, I believe students can analytically engage with the world.
By creating and critiquing art, students are directly working on their communication skills, their ability to interpret information, developing a personal art practice, as well as learning about other cultures and time periods that can challenge or reaffirm their beliefs.
And what about the history aspect?
Learning about history allows people to be challenged on an ideological and philosophical level. Here students can learn the context from which their current social climate has emerged, and use this discussion of the past to develop a stance on the present. In developing analytical skills in historical and visual critiques, students are encouraged to develop independent thought and to dig deeper beyond the face value information they receive, not only in the context of historical documents but all information more generally.
Can you name a highlight as a student?
A definite highlight of my experience at QUT has been having the opportunity to learn from people who helped create the curriculum. Learning from these individuals was both challenging and exciting and gave me the experiences to confidently teach and contribute to a department, from a current and informed perspective.
Can you share a positive experience with work placement?
I had the opportunity to work in two schools. I was able to draw direct parallels between the learning opportunities I had at QUT, and my ability to contribute to a school.
I vividly remember sitting in a whole-school meeting in my first week on placement, and being able to answer other teachers queries and concerns over the intent and application of some of the specifics in the new syllabus. Having this knowledge and confidence then saw me being able to directly contribute to the design and implementation of the curriculum for the whole art department.
Being able to support other staff in this way, gave me assurance and satisfaction that I was going into the right career, and left me feeling prepared and capable of adding value to my progression.
What piece of advice would you give to someone interested in studying the Master of Teaching?
Come in with an open mind, ready to extend your knowledge in every way! Don’t limit yourself to wanting to learn about your subject, or teaching practices, or the syllabus, but be open to learning more about the world and how you’re going to contribute to it.
Be ready to learn about the societies that schools exist in, the sociological and cultural aspects of formal education practices, about adolescent development, entrepreneurialism, research practices, the role of self-reflection, your own philosophy and how to enact it. The more you invest in learning these things, the better teacher (and person) you’ll be.
What are your plans for the future?
I am excited to see where in the world this career takes me! I know eventually, I will move permanently to a developing country and establish myself in a community, where I can use both art and education to empower and support women and girls to improve their life’s trajectory.