Rick Spencer | Student | Master of Education

Current student, Rick (they/them), selected the Master of Education based on the school's global reputation and recommendations from fellow teachers. Identifying as non-binary, Rick ultimately aims to "pursue further studies and research into how I can assist gender nonconforming, trans and queer students and teachers to develop their full potential in school spaces."

Master of Education student Rick

Q: Do you mind sharing your background?


I grew up in the western suburbs of Melbourne where I was the first in my family to complete Year 12. My adopted family came from European background, and I never spoke English until I started school.
When I completed my schooling , I found my way to Deakin University where I fell in love with Sociology and this allowed me to understand my own marginalisation as a queer person.  I started working in libraries and then followed my passion to the welfare sector where I had worked for 20 years in various government and non government agencies. I started teaching in 2018 and 2019 in schools through out the western suburbs where I had met many wonderful students from all backgrounds and ideas to share.

Q: Why did you choose to study at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education?

The reputation of Melbourne Graduate School of Education as well as it has been a dream of mine since I was in high school back in the 1980s. I have also spoken to many teachers who had studied at Melbourne Graduate School of Education and they spoke highly of the courses and the passion and commitment of the scholars and professors.

Q: Why did you choose to study the Master of Education?


I wanted to undertake a course that examined areas of interest to my values around equity, diversity and social change.  As soon as I saw this specialisation within the Master of Education, I knew I had found my calling.

Q: Are you enjoying studying at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education?


I love this course. It has allowed me to develop the confidence to be my authentic self in the classroom. I have gained skills and knowledge that I can take back into the classroom and in further research that I plan to pursue.

Q: What’s the most rewarding aspect of your program?


The interaction with other students as we discuss aspects of the lecture and ideas that shape our understanding of the place of educational theories in society.

Q: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting the Master of Education?


That it has changed my life for the better. I have leaned more about my strengths and made some wonderful friends and colleagues.

Q: Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities that you’d like to promote?


I volunteer as convener for the Australian Sociological Association for the Sociology of Media – exploring latest research in the area of knowledge production.

I am actively involved with MGSE too. I am a Student Mentor for new students commencing Education courses at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. Plus, I am an Ambassador for MGSE, where I am given the opportunity to share my experiences as a student and assist with activities in promoting Professional Education Courses. I am also on the sub committee for Diversity and Inclusion Planning for the faculty.

Q: How do you hope your course will help your career progression?

The Master of Education Coursework degree has provide me with the in-depth knowledge and skills to understand how to ensure diversity and social inclusion can be used in schools and the wider community. I have gained the confidence to work with academics and other professionals to develop programs with an informed insight into the latest leading education ideas that these units have provided us to explore in detail.

Once I complete my Masters of Education, I hope I can pursue further studies and research into how I can assist gender nonconforming, trans and queer students and teachers to develop their full potential in school spaces. I would also like to develop a resource manual for teachers working holistically with trans identified children in the early years. My ultimate goal is to make schools a safe space for all students of diversity.

Q: What do you hope is the next step in your life/career?


Become an advocate for queer teachers in Victoria. There needs to be a space where we can share ways of inclusion for ourselves in all school settings without being discriminated. I have been writing a journal about my experiences as a transgender teacher through an ethnographical method, considering Foucault’s ideas about power gender and knowledge which I plan to publish at a later stage.

Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting your course?


Take up the time to contact the university and speak with the course advisers about your interest in education. Take advantage of the webinars and speak with current students about their experiences and how they navigated their way through the courses.

Q: We love hearing our students' opinions on topical issues. Given that it’s Pride Month 2020, can you share what this means to you?


Pride 2020 is the recognition that our queer community come from all backgrounds and races but, we share the core values of being authentic to ourselves. It provides a week where I can celebrate my true self as being a trans, non-binary person who loves their community and has a lot of living to do beginning my research life in my 50s.

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