Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thoughts On Future Educators

I am an education major. Secondary Education with an emphasis in history to be exact. I am not sure if I ever come out and excitedly proclaimed this to the world, "Hey world, I'm a future teacher!"

Why?

Because I spend more time being belittled or belittling my major. My friends are all science majors and so naturally anything less than Biology 101 is seen as an 'easy' class. And I have to be honest, my Elementary Education classmates take a Senior seminar that requires them to make diagrams with shoe boxes as a 3 credit hours class. I mean I can understand what my science friends mean when they compare my Ed F 355 Adolescent Growth and Development textbook with their Organic Chemistry textbook.

That being said, I am happy to oblige my friends and throw in a few cheap shots about my major as well. It is not hard to do, when practically all of my classes are filled with several breeds of people, none of which are those I would necessarily want as my first choice for a teacher.

The Sorority Chica: On Tuesdays, all girls in Panhellenic at Clemson are 'required' to wear there a stitched letter shirt with the letters of their perspective sorority. I say required because I am in a sorority, and I have very rarely worn a stitched letter shirt on Tuesday. I would say that a lot of sorority girls forget to wear their letter shorts on Tuesday, but this generalization is quickly thrown out the window when stepping into any given education class. 80% of the females in my major wear sorority letter shirts, and live up to the 'typical sorority girl' stereotype, "So, like, yesterday at my school, like, the teacher gave them a test, and then like, told them to, like, take it." I want to say that now all sorority girls are like this. I, for one, am more interested in my major than my sorority.

The Coach: When I first switched into my current major, several people asked me what sport I intended to coach. I had no idea what they were talking about and instead talked about my own pursuits to run marathons. I now understand the question. About 60% of the guys in Secondary Education (history) discuss Clemson sport stats and excitedly talk about their future profession of coaching. Oh yeah, and history too.

The Future Lawyer: Several other students are planning on using the major to jump into law school. I never understood why someone would go through all the trouble of student teaching for a teaching certification when they had no intention of pursuing classroom involvement. But I soon learned that Education is simply easier than Political Science or History.

The Undeclared Professional: Other students sort of 'fell' into education because they did not know what else to do. Most of these students came to college with hopes of a guaranteed job after 4 years of study. There are only a few pre-professional fields of study at Clemson that give you a job title in your early majors. That's not to say that an education major is guaranteed a job, quite the opposite in fact. But with this major one is at least guaranteed a place on Craigslist or Monster to begin looking. With a Bachelors in Political Science, what is one supposed to do in regards to jobs after college?

The World Changers: Then you have your idiotic idealists who look at changing the world through educating the people. I'm not going to lie, this is where I fall in. When I first became a Secondary-Education (History) major, I came up with the genius reason for wanting to be a teacher. Therefore, when my Dad, my friends, and other people who knew me said things like, "You are so much better than Education" "Trilingual, and all you want to do is be a high school teacher, I don't understand" or "You're making a bad decision, you'll never get a job, it's a joke of a major."

To this, I had prefabricated a wonderful intricate and seemingly ingenious response: "I would rather be happy in life, than miserable. I would rather love my job than hate it. I want to teach kids the past so that they do not make the wrong decisions. Without knowledge of the past, we are deemed to repeat it." Yadda Yadda. So sappy and sentimental. But I believed it- well, I still believe it.

I am in the classroom now, and my views have evolved. I still think I can change the world as a teacher, but I no longer think that I can do that through teaching kids about history and expecting them to eat it up and and live by it to the extent that I did. You see, I went to a high school with almost 100% college retention rate, a perfectly upper-SES class, and a nearly homogeneous suburban New Jersey High School. I will be student teaching in a 'high needs' High School. My class is made up of freshman students with varying levels of intellect. Income disparity is prevalent, and minorities are not minorities in the school. I have only been observing now for a month but I can already tell that my views about education are changing. I am less idealistic, and more realistic. I find it more challenging to spend days in the classroom with my students and then return to Clemson to hear my friends talk about how stupid my major is.