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My educational journey

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Steve Woodfine

on 16 January 2015

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Transcript of My educational journey

As I look back over the years I can see that education has been about the preparation and evolution of personal knowledge to be able to deal with the challenges and opportunities of life.
When I really try and reflect on what I have learned I tend to find similar things springing to mind. These are my beliefs, values and attitudes.
The first 5 years of my life instilled the family beliefs, values and attitudes from my parents and their upbringing. I learned about parental authority, family hierarchy and the basic rights from wrongs, from my parents perspective.
My father was away quite a lot with work so my mother had to be the loving and nurturing one as well as the disciplinarian. She was the matriarch of the family...and still is!
When I got to 5 it was time to begin my academic training within an educational establishment. I attended Bulkington First School to take my learning from home into a more structured way of life. Was this my first step to becoming institutionalised?
What I learned during this early period was how to walk, how to talk, how to manipulate, the building of memories, remembering pictures, signs and words and putting meaning to their uses. All this came from home learning through play and social interaction with my family.
I would now begin to see another style of authority, the teachers authority. I was now in a different environment with no parental support and was being told to do other things that I was not used to. The dynamics had changed yet I felt that I dealt with them very well. If my mum said it was alright then it must be.
I was an active child and this was very important to me and my family. I enjoyed sport of any kind, especially those that involved balls, predominately football. My mother says that I was never without a ball as I was growing up...and this would play a significant part in my life as the years past.
This is still true today as my mind wanders hungry for stimulation. I find that this actually helps with my problem solving as I do not think as linearly as my schooling may have liked.
Academically I have learned many subjects, some of which I have been unsure about the relevance, although what they have given me is more opportunity and the choice to make a difference for myself;

Design and Technology
Information Technology

BTEC Leisure studies
Cert Ed
Music, books and film have played a huge part in my life and the emotions and imagination they can conjure up. For example, Star wars and Lord of the rings are science fiction yet remarkably linked to the relationships and identity dealt with at present. But what they do well is allow me to get immersed in the experience and be someone else, somewhere else and I need that sometimes.
I remember enjoying school, I did not understand why it was so important, just that it was! Maybe this was down to the parental impression given to me of how important my academic education was in influencing my future.
I remember playing football from an early age and, during this time in my life, knew that it would play a significant part in my future; I enjoyed it, I was successful and I felt valued.
I remember the pain and sorrow of losing 2-0 in the final game of a county football competition, where if we had won 2-0 we would have gone to the nationals at WEMBLEY!
I feel that this is where I really started to enjoy the camaraderie of being part of a social environment . I liked being around like minded individuals.
There was definitely a sibling hierarchy and I always wanted to be like my older brother. Unfortunately, our relationship took a drastic change of tack, for the worst. We were always fairly close but then he went to secondary school, I don't think I was 'cool' enough for him.
I did have a competitive edge and hated losing, just like my father. It showed that I cared. However, I did not lose gracefully and this was an important lesson to be learned in time.
This was a strange period in my life where I moved up to a new school. I was no longer part of the higher order but was reduced to insignificant 'fresh meat'. This did not seem to phase me as I enjoyed school and worked hard. That was until I was about 14.
I began to feel the power and influence of people around me and started to spend more time on social relationships than academic education.
I made new friends yet felt ostracised through peer pressure with a real need to fit in. I realised that no one likes a SWOT and I hated being singled out. I felt I had to conform to the new hierarchic system based on size, strength and an ability to fight. As I look back I wish I had the moral courage to stand up for what I believed in, maybe my academic future would have looked slightly different.
My feeling of self worth continued through sport with the academic subjects taking a back seat; I was the captain of the football and basketball teams but also represented the school in cricket, rugby and tennis. I believe that the lack of motivation and engagement from those teaching role models, in influential positions in my life, let me down.
I was disappointed with the teachers at school who did not seem to care, apart from my PE teacher. She had a genuine desire, enthusiasm and willingness to help, which inspired me greatly to pursue physical education as a career.
I felt hugely disappointed with my GCSE results because I knew I could have done so much better, but I still did not fully grasp the concept of how academic grades could help or hinder my future decisions.
During secondary school my parents began to allow me more responsibility and freedom, encouraging me to go on 3 school skiing trips and a football tour to Yugoslavia. I began to become more independent.
Around this time my father really began to generate responsibility for accepting the consequences of my own decisions. I was playing for both Coventry City and Stoke City football clubs but when it came to signing schoolboy forms there could be only one. All I wanted was for my dad to say "you should choose....." instead he told me he would support any decision I made but it had to be my decision. This was such a powerful lesson which he expanded on as I grew up.
At 15, during my mock exams, my fear of exams became evident and this only became worse during my finals. Where was the educational support to help children like me deal with the physiological and psychological responses to the pressure we placed on ourselves. Possibly my first real experience of my bodies flight or fight responses.
It was about this time I began to experience that with more independence came greater responsibility and the fear of consequences sometimes restricted movement.
I was so flexible and amiable as a kid I was taken advantage of, but that was ok. I remember playing for Coventry and having other boys on trial, I would be played on the left of midfield when I was a right midfielder. I never complained because I just loved playing. It was not until our manager laid into me at half time one game about my inability to cross the ball with my left foot that I realised I was letting myself down by not speaking out. My response of "I am a right footed, right midfielder who has only been playing on the left because of all the boys on trial" seemed to stump him. At the end of the season I did not receive a letter of extension and to this day I still do not know why. Highlighting to me the importance of constructive feedback and effective communications.
On receipt of my exam results I knew I could not handle doing A levels at the 6th form, with the exams at the end, yet I knew I had to continue my academic education; even if that was because I was unsure of my future or that if I wanted to be a PE teacher I would have to go to university.
I was informed that the coursework and competency based style of courses, delivered at a local college, were equivalent to 2 A levels which would get me into university. Little did I know that it would actually have an adverse effect on my academic future.
I remember my art teacher telling me that I was a liar when, as requested, I produced a piece of work without using a ruler. I spent so long drawing the inside of my kitchen with perspective and shading I was so pleased with the outcome. He completely knocked my confidence and my trust in him. This event actually made me rebel against a subject I really liked.
When I was 17 there was an event that would make me feel worthless. I was locked up in a cell for the night after consuming far too much alcohol and going on an alleged path of destruction. My father was so disappointed that he did not talk to me for a whole month. I had not only let myself down I had let my biggest role model down and that hurt.
Although this presentation has not captured everything, I know that looking back on my life so far and seeing what others have had to go through I have been extremely privileged; life, family, friends, upbringing, experiences.......
The cruelty of experience hardens us all, but it also makes us what we are.
I have learned emotions that were consequences of choices I made, but I know that they were necessary to build sound reasoning for future decisions; these could be physiological and psychological and both positive and negative;

Sadness and tears

Tears of joy
Love and belonging
Unconditional love
Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate, Hate leads to...
I have learned that there are some amazing people who can do amazing things
Nicholas Chamberlaine Comprehensive
My secondary school!
Bulkington First School
My introduction to schooling
St James Middle School
I had friends at school but always felt on the outer edge
My map is not the territory
Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.
- Aristotle
Do not let schooling get in the way of your education-Mark Twain
The meaning of communication is the response you get
'Education is not the filling of a vessel, but the kindling of a flame' - Socrates
Playing football for the Royal Air Force
I know that where there is good there is also bad...

I know that the world is an awful place, yet so beautiful and intriguing...

I know that there is hate and destruction, but also love and peace......

I know that life is difficult, yet every step is full of awe inspiring moments....
I know what makes me happy...
I know what makes me sad...
I know where to find strength...
I know who to go to for guidance...
I can make more informed decisions through experience and a broader acceptance of reality...
I do not live constantly in the here and now like I did as a child...
I am very reflective and can let things weigh heavy on my mind, especially if they conflict with my own personal value system...
I know how I react to conflict which helps me think more rationally.
I remember playing football for two teams; Bulkington on Sunday mornings and St Nicholas in the afternoon. There was one occasion that a 'friendly' match was arranged between the two sides and my dad gave me the choice of who I wanted to play for, I chose St Nicholas. However, the manager of Bulkington was not happy, maybe fearful, and said that if I played for the other team the game would not go ahead. I remember standing on the side line watching both teams play while I went through all sorts of psychological emotions, needless to say I did not play for Bulkington again.
But it was not only my arts teacher who detrimentally changed my view towards academic education. My physics teacher told me I would not make anything of myself because I spent too much time playing sport and not enough time doing homework. Other teachers had no control in class, were not engaging and complete 'morale hoovers'. Some of them did not seem to want to be there.
However, the teachers who did inspire me were energetic, enthusiastic, passionate, empathetic and approachable. They worked hard and had a commanding presence. They genuinely gained gratification from helping their pupils.
At 23, I joined the RAF as a PTI. My true destiny began to unfold and become clearer.
On 23 Oct 2000, in the Dominican Republic, I married my wife! I was so happy I cried.......
My basic training in military skills is where I began to really experience discipline, self discipline, independence and interdependence as I had to look after myself for the first time but more importantly work together as a team to achieve.
I have had a fantastic journey so far and my basic PTI course stands as one of the most enjoyable times in my life. 6 months of learning about fitness and playing sport with like minded individuals who took pride in everything they did. I had definitely found my calling.
I was fortunate to excel in the talented group I was with because of the experiences I had throughout my life. I achieved the Top Sportsman and Top Student awards on the course. I felt so proud yet still uncomfortable with being praised in front of so many.
Sometime after my training I eventually found out that my mum had breast cancer. My world was rocked again and my faith in everything seemed irrelevant. What it did highlight to me was how strong and selfless she was. She had been to my graduation from basic training rather than going to a hospital appointment and she had not wanted me to know until I had finished training so that it did not detrimentally affect me.
This is because not one event in life can mean that I have learned something wholeheartedly it is about ever evolving our knowledge and experience by experiencing more. This will develop our emotional and intelligence quotient in order to be better equipped to deal with everyday life more successfully.
As I reflect on what has been I feel excited about what the future holds.
The story of my education.....
...so far!
To look back and attempt to answer the question of what I have learned in the story of my education could take an eternity!!!
Therefore, I decided that the assignment would follow a structure of journeying through my life with specific experiences that I feel show what I had begun to learn and why.
When assigned this project I was unaware of what would eventually fall out of reflecting over my years of education. Little did I know that I would be opening up a world of emotion and enlightenment to understand why I am who I am.
I eventually reached that age and position where I was going to be caught behind a desk in a more managerial role. I decided it was time to go for my commission and become an officer in the Royal Air Force.
After a robust and successful interview process I was accepted onto Initial Officer Training on 2 Sept 2007. A daunting 30 week training course to prepare me for the responsibilities and behaviours expected of a RAF Officer.
I was the youngest player to play first team football for Nuneaton Borough. What a rush! My father has since told me how proud he was at that moment.
Whilst playing football I still needed to live and worked in pubs, clubs, factories, did agency work, sports shop assistant and even worked in a fridge.
Whilst at college I remember getting fairly disillusioned with the UK and what it might have to offer. My friend and I applied to coach 'soccer', in America, and were accepted. I spent 3 weeks in New Jersey, USA, coaching children aged 6-18 and had an awesome time.This was going to be the change in my fortune, I was going to move to America to make a difference in soccer coaching.
I applied to be a Physical Training Instructor (PTI) in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and passed all of the entrance aptitude tests but was told there was no PTI vacancies at that time and would I like to be a mechanic? Fortunately, I did not know one end of a screwdriver from the other so I decided to think of something else.
Unfortunately, during this time my girlfriend decided to end our relationship to be with someone else whilst I was away. Those three weeks had changed from being insignificant to being everything, I hoped time would now heal these wounds, this was a tough period in my life.
Over the next couple of years I maintained my concentration on football, My brother and sister married their respective partners within 6 weeks of each other and I went on a lads holiday at the start of the football season, which completely destroyed my football boss' belief in me.
"Its OK not to be OK"
I was taken along to every first team game and then left out of the side without any explanation. My feelings about football clubs and the politics behind them brought back the anger, all I wanted to do was play. I remember on return from one match I had completely lost control of my emotions and only had one way in which to let them out; by putting a fist through my bedroom door.
At 15 I also dislocated my wrist during a county football trial. The pain I felt physically was nothing compared to the pain I felt knowing that I would not be able to play football for a while. That feeling would never change.
In 2002, whilst away on detachment, I was fortunate enough to get a passenger flight in a Tornado jet fighter. I realised that no one can take away my experiences.
My mother still reminds me of how much of a daydreamer I was at school and was even placed in a chair that faced a wall to stop me from being distracted through the classroom windows by the outside world .
I was driving my parents mad without any future stability, living for the weekends when I could play football and be with my friends. It had to stop as I could not live with my parents forever and I could not see myself working in a factory for the rest of my life....I had more to give.
On return from my detachment I was sent on my Adventure Training Instructors (ATI) course at Llanrwst, North Wales; for another 6 months.
We were given another chance. On 2 Jan 02, our daughter Shannon was born and, although the experience was not as magical as I had envisaged, the small child we got was perfect! 3 months later I was to be split from my new family for 4 months whilst I was sent on detachment to the middle east. Tough times.
We wanted to start a family as soon as possible and were overjoyed to find out we were pregnant. Unfortunately, life is harsh and the painful realisation of what had happened would not really dawn for some weeks. However....
I met my future wife whilst training and was blown away by her, I still am. Unfortunately I was still coming to terms with being on my own and an immaturity that did not match with her value system caused us to separate for a year in 1999. The hurt, sadness and pain was indescribable. It is so true that you do not know what you have until you lose it; however,
On completion of this course I was posted to Fairbourne, on the west coast of Wales. The job entailed exploring leadership and personal development using the medium of adventure training, for all members of the RAF.
Although the job was awesome I was spending a vast amount of time away from my family and this was difficult.
Whilst at Fairbourne Lewis arrived.
During my time at Fairbourne I began to learn more about myself and, more importantly, more about the attitudes and behaviours of those around me; Consequences of actions, conflict resolution, decision making, effect based recognition (and the list goes on).
After 18 months I was promoted and moved to a position as a Ground Training Instructor (GTI) on Cambridge University Air Squadron. I used this tour to build on my ability to deliver personal development and leadership training to potential RAF Officers from Cambridge University.
This also served me well when preparing for Initial Officer Training (IOT) as the presentation, advice and guidance given by serving officers and selection board members was invaluable.
On graduation from IOT and phase 2 training on the Admin Trainer specialisation I was posted to Halton and my first real job as an officer.
The job was to deliver teacher training to all members of Defence in order to meet the minimum requirements for instructional staff. I also had line management responsibilities for senior members of staff.
A significant amount of my time was taken up having to deal with the welfare of my staff as well as producing an excellent training package. This was my first real experience of management of people within an organisation.
At this point I learned about the detrimental effects of too much pressure, causing negative stress to disable the body. There was so much going on at work and at home my body had to tell me to slow down somehow. I was taken to hospital with a horrendous headache.
My next posting saw my journey return to focus more on academic prowess as the Training Development Officer for communications engineers. I was tasked with training transformation which has expanded my knowledge considerably.
In 2000, both my wife and I embarked on the Cert Ed. It was to help me progress in my career, however, it was one of the worst experiences of my life. It actually pushed me away from academic learning again, cementing my opinion rather than inspiring me to learn more.
The enrollment onto the BA in Post Compulsory Education was a natural progression from the Cert Ed, which scared me. I wanted to do it but not if it was going to be delivered like the Cert Ed. I am pleasantly surprised because it has inspired me to understand more about education and the psychology of learning.
The one thing that has struck me is that the results from years of research have found what works best and why, within a classroom environment; Active learning, collaboration, assessment for learning (feedback), cooperation, engaging lessons based on students needing to understand for themselves what is being taught. I wish my teachers had used this information 30 years ago.
Courtney joins the clan

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed..

'Now,' said the professor as the laughter subsided, 'I want you to recognise that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things; your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions, and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff.
My education has taken me on a fantastic journey with many highs and lows but ultimately I am where I am today because of the influences and experiences I have had throughout my life.
Sound body and mind; I know that if I am fit physically then my mental agility and ability to deal with challenges increases exponentially.
I was born on 6 Oct 1973 in Welwyn Garden City, Herts. This is where my educational journey began!
When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 Beers.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

Gran Canaria
New Zealand
Mountain walking
Downhill skiing
Cross country skiing
Kayaking (White water , surf and sea)
White water rafting
Mountain biking
Rock Climbing
Ice Climbing
Snow Holing
Dog Sledding
Gambled in Las Vegas
Camped in the Grand Canyon
Flew in a jet fighter
Got married
Have 3 children
Final thought
Me working in the fridge!
Harley arrived
I had not realised how much patience and unconditional love a dog gives and how much dependency they have on us. This made me look back at Sandy, the dog we had when I was younger, and more importantly how sad I was when he eventually passed away.
I know that through the tears, anger, sadness, frustration, happiness and elation my family make me so proud of them every single day.
All I want is for them to be proud of me.
I was given plenty of opportunity at this time to expand my skills, knowledge and experience and the Cubs and Scouts provided a progressive involvement with a disciplined organisation.
I have been to some fantastic places and met some fantastic people from differing backgrounds and cultures.
I have been fortunate to experience many things;
who knows what else is left to discover....
Here are some of the beliefs, values and attitudes I feel I have learned over my life so far. I am not saying that I have the ability to perform these at every moment of every day perfectly, but I do feel that they are extremely important to me and have a positive affect on my life and those around me.

Trust and Respect
Confidence in yourself and others
Empathy and Caring
Understanding others and Accepting them for who they are
Support and Development
Guided Discovery
Honesty and Integrity
Patience and Discipline
Commitment and Dedication
Modesty, Pride and Professionalism
Responsibility and ownership to make the right choices
Grasping Opportunity through Empowerment
Moral Courage and Influence
Self awareness and the awareness of your environment
Imagination and creativity
Motivation-intrinsic and extrinsic
Inspiration and perspiration
Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
Family and Friendship
Fun and Laughter
Sacrifice and selflessness
'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued, 'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first; the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, 'I'm glad you asked.' The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

I remember one day my boss came in and asked us about respect and what it meant. We unanimously responded that respect was earned, because we had all been through the basic PTI course. The discussion ended with the one pearl of wisdom which was to change the way in which I approached life. He said that he liked to give people the respect they deserve until they showed that they did not deserve it anymore. I was intrigued. On being asked why, he replied that by giving respect there are no walls to break down, only to build, therefore relationships can flourish much quicker and far more effectively.
College seemed like a non entity to me, although I made some great friends I still felt lost and unsure of my future direction. I had 2 teachers who made me feel worthless again. One would pay no attention to me and even when I got the answers right she would ask someone else as if I was invisible, total disengagement followed. The other one was my art teacher. I had chosen art because I enjoyed it and was not too bad at it. However, after taking a significant amount of time over a piece of work my art teacher decided that what I needed was to let go and add paints...which she did! to my drawing, I was mortified, how dare she...it was happening again a subject I loved being pulled away from me.
I applied to go back to America with a view to moving there permanently and again was accepted. I spent 8 weeks state side all together and it was wonderful.
However, before I went away I had applied again for the RAF and on my return found that I had been accepted as a PTI. Was this the opportunity I had been waiting for?
I know that 16 years on my mum, through courage, strength of character and determination, has gone toe to toe with uncertainty and is still standing proud. For this I am truly grateful.
Now that I am the father of 3 children, and a dog, I am really beginning to understand what my family gave me as I was growing up. The selfless sacrifices, the guided direction and how easy it is to give unconditional love. My kids get me emotional with every success or new piece of learning. I am going through many emotions that I am sure my parents did with me. It's strange yet endearing.
The biggest challenge here was living apart from my family for long periods of time and not being able to help. This period of time tested our relationship to the limits and if I had been re-coursed for any reason I would be a single man right now.
I play guitar and drums but until now I have been a bedroom musician, too fearful of what people might say, because some people have been quite negative from the start. In 2010, I arrived back at Cosford with purpose to join the Live Music Club. I did join and have performed in front of real people! It makes me feel happy. I am still hugely under confident but it is getting better. Only my own mind will stop me continuing what I love to do.
Pierre Bourdieu may say that this was the beginnings of the foundations to my cultural capital
However these were my best days for being successful in sport and having fun!
I have had an amazing education so far,
I have recently rekindled my love of history, reading historical novels about Spartacus and Julius Ceasar. I also enjoy watching horrible histories with my children.
What does bother me is the stigma of being a 'swot'. I work hard to understand and that means I ask questions but also have opinions. I sit in the university discussions and feel compelled to add, what I think is value, but something inside me always says "shut up, your going off on one again, they are are all thinking who does he think he is". Paranoia then sets in. Sometimes I am strong enough to deal with it, other times I want the world to swallow me up as I relive my youthful experiences.
Not long after this I was scrambling on Snowdon. I was regaining a bit of confidence and lowering my friend over a steep 30 foot drop. To my horror, my equipment gave way and I was pulled over the edge.....Fortunately, I landed feet first but I was winched off the mountain by helicopter to Bangor hospital. I felt relieved only to have received minor scrapes, physically I was OK. However, I was about to find out the power of the mind when dealing with this kind of event.
Whilst at Fairbourne I had a few scares whilst climbing. I remember climbing a grade too high, as a challenge, and struggling to find a way past the overhang. I froze completely fearing the worst, my rational brain disappeared and psychologically I was numb. The only thing I could think of was my family, my wife was pregnant with our second child, and I was going to lose it all. I could not function.
Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate, Hate leads to...
Flying Lessons
Paint balling
Sub aqua diving
Theme parks
Roller coasters
Bungee jumped
Power boating
Jet skiing
Water Skiing
Driven a Ferrari
Visited a health spa
Fired a rifle
Seen the Bayeux Tapestry
Played semi professional football
And the list goes on.
Just after Christmas 1999, we got back together.
by Steve Woodfine
I know that the world is evolving at a pace that may not be allowing society to keep up with it. Technology is so advanced now, yet tomorrow it expands further.
Bordieu, Pierre (1984) Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Translated by Richard Nice. Massachusetts, Harvard University Press.
I know words can be interpreted differently yet, for me, the following music video succinctly sums up that life is full of choice and challenge. I have been through an amazing journey so far and I have the potential to add life to my years, not years to my life.
I have added inspiring quotes, from many extraordinary people, which have highlighted what I was thinking. For these I am truly grateful as they keep me focused on maintaining sanity, drive and ambition.
The music video is 'Good Riddance' by Green Day.
Full transcript