It all started with a simple thought – I could actually get onto the Oxford PGCE course. I mean, that would get my foot through the door. I was applying to Teach First after all, so I might as well give the traditional PGCE route into teaching a go. OH BOY was I wrong about EVERYTHING.
It’s cold at the moment; I’m sitting in a Nero, trying to kill the hour I have left until my national express coach. I’ve caught a chill because Dan and I have been walking aimlessly all day. (Don’t trust Google maps to get you anywhere). The bottoms of my feels are poking through and my mental health…feels like someone put a black silk shroud over my brain – I can see no way out.
I don’t usually write about negative experiences, I’d rather not share it, but honestly I just need to. It’s not a lie that my mental health has been terrible recently, especially in the last month. I feel like I’ve been trying so hard to get somewhere but just can’t.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t even find a simple waitressing job that’s stable. Everything I get offered is through agencies and for a disgusting wage (I’m sorry, but I won’t organise all your social media channels, photoshop your photos, and do your website design for 18k a year). Everybody assumes graduates are desperate – because we are- so they basically use us as slaves. I’m completely fed up. I decided I would try and put my mind to something bigger than myself. I applied for the Teach First Leadership Graduate Scheme, because I really believe in it. I know first-hand what education inequality is like, I’ve experienced it first hand and it had a disrupting effect on me too. I went to a school that was in special measures when I did my a-levels. So yes, the message got to me and I thought- I could teach and help someone who was in my situation. I could stop them from failing.
This is how I got to Oxford, it was a 20 minute open-evening but it told me everything I needed to know. Every person I met, par one lady who was in charge of the event, looked down on me. This is not the first time that I’ve been looked down on like I’m some sort of scum by academics, like someone who has no idea what they’re doing and could never possibly understand. It’s funny how those people are usually the loudest to signal about social justice, but don’t do anything to improve anything. (Oh, but they put up a pride flag yesterday so they must be nice people.) I have become dis-illusioned with seeing the world as the fairest system we have, it’s not the case in Britain anymore. Not if you want to move about the working class, those in power won’t let you. They’ll help you and pretend they care, but they won’t let you get in on their level.
Why do I say this? I could pin point what happened exactly, and the series of bad conversations I have had at open days etc. but it’s pointless. I am more interested in telling you how I feel about this social class immobility thing we have going on.
I’ve been brought up to try my best. From my start in education, I did all the best I could and beyond. I was always encouraged to, so I did. I was taught that if I only get good grades and try hard by getting involved – I will get what I want. That is some sort of capitalist wet dream that doesn’t exists. I am completely disillusioned with this idea now.
For these last three years, but collectively throughout my life, I have been trying extremely hard to get somewhere. It’s not just that I pushed myself outside my comfort zone- I battled a mental illness through most of uni, managed to get decent grades from one of the worst schools in the county and forced myself to work 12 hour shifts at university just to have something to eat, because of how awfully small the student loan is. But it doesn’t matter- none of it matters because I can’t do an aptitude test, or because – as I’ve increasingly realised – I’m a woman, and kid you not, because I’m tall. People think I’m intimidating, they make comments on my height. People, like admissions officers, also care to make a comment on the slight twang in my accent, and if you’ve ever heard me speak (check my Instagram highlights) it is quite slight. They seem to dislike the look of me.
I regret coming to the Oxford open day, it just made me feel worse about myself, and worse about my future. I’m lost and confused.
Don’t stay in school.