Tomos Alwyn-davies with permission for Varsity

I can honestly say I love my degree. That’s something you don’t hear a lot. Jealous? You should be. Not everyone can confess unwavering adoration for something that sucks the life out of them until they’re nothing but a sad sack of skin debating whether to sell their soul to the devil (do a Law conversion). You must be thinking, wow, she is really passionate about her degree. While I would love to keep that image of me intact, I ran out of passion by Year 10 Mocks. My affection for my degree is not a result of my drive but because I study Education, English, Drama and the Arts (EEDA).

From a totally unbiased perspective, Education is the best degree at Cambridge. It might be disorganised, chaotic and severely lacking in job prospects, but it is also freeing, creative and current. It is stupidly broad and most definitely different. It is a community. It is also the only course in Cambridge that offers a practical drama paper.

"From a totally unbiased perspective, Education is the best degree at Cambridge"

Explaining my degree is always entertaining. I begin with how my first theatre lecture involved nearly an hour of playing drama games. Watching Medics’ jaws drop and NatScis eye me with a mixture of disgust and curiosity is addictive. In fact, nearly everything about the theatre paper conjures extreme reactions. Speaking with some friends on the course, Mel reminds me of a lecture where we were instructed to walk around the room enacting different levels of emotion. It was quite the experience to see my Cambridge lecturer screaming and scratching at the floor demonstrating the ‘highest level of tension.’ Anna brings up a task wherein we were told to ‘feel’ the urges of different spaces in the room and walk there with ‘purpose’ - I can tell you my walk definitely lacked ‘purpose’. Jumping around a music room like a frog, slapping a fellow coursemate in the face (yes, purposefully), and ‘performing’ Artaud’s Spurt of Blood (read it if you dare) are a few more of my favourite stories. Even the exams are miles away from typical Cambridge expectations. For my exam this year, my only instruction is to write a ‘complete’ play. What this means, we are still not entirely sure but it is a very cool opportunity. The lectures even got two paid actors to come in and perform extracts of our plays which I would describe as equally as terrifying as it was incredible.

From my descriptions, I am aware there seems to be a distinct lack of education in my Education degree. Of course I have to clarify what exactly this degree is. No, I do not want to become a teacher. Yes, I am prepared to follow an economically dubious career path. I would estimate that 90% of education students don’t plan to teach. We may end up teaching, but we don’t plan for it. Funnily enough, getting a teaching qualification (PGCE) is actually much easier for other degrees. I doubt I will be able to apply to do one. I can see why though, what am I going to teach? Is there a GCSE in experimental classroom set ups? What you need to understand about Education is that we don’t learn to become teachers, we learn why being a teacher sucks. Scratch that, why humanity sucks. To tell the truth, it gets pretty depressing, especially when we finish discussions contemplating the impossibilities of any practical changes to the world. To complicate things even further, on the EEDA track of Education, we study literature and theatre as well as the deep incurable flaws of society. This complication is why many of us EEDA girls (the course is predominantly female) applied for the course.

"It was quite the experience to see my Cambridge lecturer screaming and scratching at the floor demonstrating the ‘highest level of tension'"

Talking to my cohort (all 14 of us!) many of them see EEDA as a chance to keep hold of our creative passions while studying a range of other subjects. We study everything from ancient Mesopotamia to critical race theory to language acquisition to the animated Batman series (still my favourite lecture). The idea that I could have the chance to study all of these topics excites me now as much as it did when I found the course. I like the variety, I see the lectures as a buoyancy aid. When we find something that genuinely interests us, it’s easier to dive into the deep end when you have something to swim back to the surface with. Anna, however, does also make the excellent point that such variety is a nice way to avoid making real decisions about our futures…


Mountain View

CLUEDO 2 is a perfect muddle of motives, mischief, and money-grabbing

Unlike me, some EEDA students know exactly what they want. Mel explains how studying drama was always the goal. Cambridge does not offer anything close to a Theatre course for undergraduates despite the popularity of student theatre. I know many people who chose Cambridge for the theatre scene first and their degree second. As the only undergraduate course to offer practical drama in Cambridge, EEDA is, as Mel puts, “the only way to study drama.” And yet our current second year cohort is the last to ever experience this course. For first year Education students, the separation into different tracks has been scrapped. Instead, they all take the same papers in their first year to slowly specialise as they move into second and third year. In losing the EEDA papers, there has been a fundamental change in how the course functions. The smaller track specific groups allow students to focus on their interests, like Theatre, while engaging with the wider themes of education. These subjects are already overlooked and dismissed from Cambridge’s academic wealth. Within core papers that all educationists take, each student can bring a specialised knowledge from their track-specific papers which creates critical discussion. There is something about the community the tracks create that makes lectures that much more interesting.

More than discussion and lectures, I truly feel supported by my EEDA coursemates. Not to sound soppy but it is an honour to do this course with such inspiring, creative minds. Still jealous? Good. Why don’t you give up your future income and join us educationists? Let’s change the world, one drama game at a time.