Do Teachers Need Education Degrees?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Genmai, Jan 5, 2010.

  1. Genmai

    Genmai Companion

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  3. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    In Canada (I think this is true in all provinces) all teachers have a B.Ed in addition to their first degree.
     
  4. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    I think you are correct MrsC. All teachers and all subs need to have a B.Ed.
     
  5. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Same in New Brunswick... though there is a shortage of music teachers, so they DO have teachers teaching Music (I'm sure there are other subjects too) without an Education degree, but they are unable to get the same contract level, and therefore can not get paid regular teacher's salary.
     
  6. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    (Though here, subs are not required to have a BEd, though if you have a BEd you should get called before any other subs.)
     
  7. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Interesting. Personally, at the high school level especially, I feel entire degrees in education (especially at the graduate level) are a tremendous waste of time. Were some of my courses useful? Absolutely. My methods courses, where we taught sample lessons and observed in public schools, were fairly good. But those courses were only a small part of a mostly useless program. Most of my courses were filled with theory and philosophy, and precious little useful material. Was the history and philosophy of education interesting? Sure. Does it help me teach? Barely.

    At the high school level, I strongly believe that teachers should have a complete major in their content area. If you don't know what you're talking about, everything you know about the learning process becomes pointless. I think a few supplemental education courses in methods, lesson planning, and perhaps classroom management, would be helpful, but anything beyond that was barely useful for me.

    I ended up taking three majors (History, Social Science, and Secondary Ed) just to feel remotely competent in my job.
     
  8. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    Agreed. If you don't know the material well how on earth can you teach it??

    At my undergraduate institution there were two track through the math major (actually there were 4). The one for math majors and the one for math education majors. The math education majors took fewer classes and they took "baby" versions of some of the class I took.
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Most teachers in California do not have B.Ed. degrees, and in fact I don't think the "B.Ed." even exists in California. But it's the case in California that (nearly) all teachers go through a post-bachelor's teacher education program.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I agree that the Ed degree is probably much more useful on the elementary level.

    If my education courses had reallly taught me how to TEACH, I might feel differently. They didn't. They might have taught me some of the components of a lesson plan, but they didn't give me much that was hands on. I observed, but wasn't given the nitty gritty hints that so many newbies can get here on A to Z. Those I had to learn for myself. So some really practical education courses would benefit anyone planning to teach.

    But any teacher--EVERY teacher-- needs to know their content, above and beyond the scope of the course(s) being taught. Knowing HOW to teach, but not knowing more than the kids about the material, is simply unacceptable.

    This year I teach Algebra, Geometry and SAT prep. Yesteday I had a Senior I don't know ask me a question about a Precalculus problem and I was able to help him. OF COURSE I was able to help him-- it was a math question and I teach math, even though I'm not currently teaching THAT math course.
     
  11. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I'm with Alice. I would be more in favor of ed degrees if the education classes were actually useful to me. Since I was Alt. Cert, I was in a classroom before I took any classes. I remember sitting in class thinking that what they were teaching was totally bogus. I get more use out of my graduate level abstract algebra and real analysis courses in the scope of my teaching than the education courses I was required to take.
     
  12. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    I think it depends on the BEd program and the way it's utilized (sp?).

    Like MrsC, Proud2BATeacher and dfleming said, most all teachers in Canada have a BEd, but they also must have a degree in their subject area, either done before entering the BEd program, or done at the same time. Most BEd programs I've heard of are 2 year programs (unless you're doing it concurrently with your subject degree....then it would take longer).

    My BEd program was excellent. We had to take one class dedicated to lesson plan writing, one for classroom management, one that dicussed educational law (which actually ended up being quite interesting) and an educational psych class. All of my other classes were Methods classes (and my practicum).
     
  13. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I think (some may argue the contrary) that you would learn WAY MORE observing and being mentored (apprenticed) by excellent teachers than sitting in a college classroom getting
    an Ed degree. I think some courses should be required in education. More so I think prospective teachers should be exposed to great teachers and have those same GT's come in and discuss, explain, debate and teach small groups of student teachers. It could be done SOOOO much better instead of this national hodge podge of teacher Ed.
     
  14. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    I would go with the degree in your content area. I have two advanced degrees in history (PhD and Masters) and one in Education Leadership and even as a Department Chair I really use nothing from my Ed. Leadership class.
     
  15. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    I think what was taught in my ed classes was very useful, just not to me at that moment. I didn't understand half of what they were talking about because I had never been in a classroom. If I could go back and re-take the class on backwards design and really talk to the prof now that I've had experience writing units and seeing student reaction, etc., I would love it. But at the time, I just wanted him to cut to the chase so I could move on and get INTO the classroom.
     
  16. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    Not here in my neck of the woods!
    IF you pick up the phone when they call you THEN you've got a job to pull. I like it that way. Heck! I had the PATIENCE to hang in College for 4+ years, in order to get my piece of paper; I definitely have the patience & know how to sub.:D I have just as much right to that phone call as someone with an :)Education piece of paper.
    Rebel1
     
  17. jforegolf

    jforegolf Rookie

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    I think those of us with education degrees might take our knowledge a little bit for granted. I teach at a private school that hires both teachers with education degrees and those without. While the quality of teaching across the board is great and it is almost impossible to tell who has an education degree and who does not, I think those who have a degree are better able to evaluate their own teaching because of the foundation education courses provide. While I certainly don't implement everything I learned while getting my masters in education, I often find myself able to evaluate what strategies I choose to use with my students against what I learned in school. If you don't have an education degree, it must be very hard to know if what you are doing is technically "correct."

    I found that teachers who don't have degrees are much more likely to teach the exact way the school wants them to rather than putting their own individual style into lessons.

    If a person is meant to teach a degree does not matter, he or she will do a great job teaching. I do think degrees help people become better able to evaluate themselves.
     
  18. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    There are two sides of the equation. First of all, I have found my classes in education very useful and a good guideline to look for in terms of how to approach/shape instruction, theories of learning, and guidelines towards classroom management. At the same time, I also value having a degree in a specific content, particularly if you are going to teach that area.

    That said, nothing in the classes I have taken can make for learning classroom management other than by getting into a classroom and teaching - I have chosen to do this through doing substituting at just about every grade level possible.

    Bottom Line - classes in education are necessary and useful but not sufficient by itself when it comes to preparing you to teach.
     
  19. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Who I am as an educational professional was shaped by my volunteer time in classrooms as an active PTO mom and by my truly EXCELLENT preparation in grad school (Old Dominion University- Go Monarchs!!).

    It's not just the degree that makes a great teacher (or doctor, or lawyer or....) There are good teachers who have gone alternate route with no education degree. There are also abysmal teachers who have received their ed degrees...

    Being a great teacher is part instinct- that can't be taught. Yet one can not discount the value of a degree in education...If one takes their classes SERIOUSLY and focuses on taking away good 'stuff' to use in a future classroom...that makes a difference. Bottom line, professional educators should be INTELLIGENT and should continue to enrich themselves through ongoing professional development, classes, workshops... Never stop learning.:2cents:
     
  20. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    I think that I had some pretty good teacher preparation courses, most of which required practicum experience in an actual classroom in addition to the course itself. But I also have a degree in content as well. I think depending on where you went to school and when shapes the view of things somewhat.
     
  21. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I like the methods courses and the child development courses. I see evidence of people who can do more harm when they don't understand basic development. Otherwise, I see a lot of stuff I don't need. I think there could be a better balance in these programs. I'm sure some are better than others.
     
  22. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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  23. Genmai

    Genmai Companion

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    Thanks for the link to the NPR news piece. This quote is most telling:

     
  24. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Yet Teachers College at Columbia is a shining star...as are many many other colleges and universities that are preparing future teachers. It's unfortunate that the ones who are merely taking students' money and churning out ed degrees are earning the bad press that brings disrespect to our profession...That's why those of us who are employed professional educators have to communicate to parents and the community the WHAT and WHY of what we do, why we need to model professionalism, why we need to walk the walk and talk the talk...
     
  25. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Not that it's a generalization, but the only graduate of TC that I ever knew was probably the worst teacher I ever worked with. He was far more impressed with his credentials than with helping his students actually learn anything.
     
  26. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Sorry that was your experience, Alice. From my experience, Columbia really has a lot to offer to their preservice teachers (and seasoned professionals through their workshops). What you have observed could be said of any college or university program when talking about ONE graduate...you certainly know enough about significant sampling to know that is true of most data....:angel:
     
  27. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm with those who believe that a degree in one's content area is more useful than a general education degree.

    Furthermore, I think that with the NCLB stuff, obtaining that 'highly qualified' status is easier with a masters degree in your content area.
     
  28. futureiowateach

    futureiowateach Rookie

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    Having a strong understanding and knowledge in your area is crucial, I agree, but my ed courses are fantastic and I'm glad I've had them... Perhaps it is the content, and the fact that I take around 30 hours in each subject I am interested in teaching in addition to the ed courses, or maybe its the Professors. But many of the "ed courses" are method courses that require a 25 hour field, that must include at least teaching two lessons...
    That being said, it depends greatly on the program and even more so on the Professors... I really feel lucky that at my college every single Professor in the program taught in the classroom for many years... One was a Principal, One a counselor, two of them special ed teachers... (It is a small college and with only about 10 Education Professors) but each of them has at least 10 years experience working directly with students, they have a lot to teach us...
     
  29. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oh, absolutely.

    But a few of us who remember him (he was at my school a LONG time ago) smile when we hear anyone talk about "TC."

    He would have been an idiot no matter where he went to college. But he expected those two initials to have the world falling down at his feet.
     
  30. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    Thank you, czacza!!! Your entire message is inspiring.

    Thanks for pointing out that having an ed degree does not mean you are smarter or a better teacher than someone who is alt cert.
     
  31. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    So, what would a content area mean for elementary? I understand majoring in math if I really wanted to teach middle/high school math, but isn't a standard ed degree the way to go for Pre-K-5th? I have an undergrad degree in business and am looking for a master's program. What else could I do besides an ed masters? Maybe child development? I still have to take certification courses...
     
  32. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    An elementary teacher needs to know the basics about a lot of subjects. Liberal Arts would suit that need.
     
  33. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Take your general education coursework really, really seriously, MsDippel, please. If it's in your past, please review the content. You might want to have a look at the Multiple Subject Tests subforum, in which takers of elementary-education subject-matter tests discuss what they need to know and how they need to know it.

    I don't know of masters-level programs that do much toward elementary-education subject matter - and I think that's a serious failing, though doubtless other posters on A to Z will disagree.
     
  34. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I don't know a lot about elementary ed programs, but I agree that it's an absolute necessity to have coursework on the academics you'll be teaching.

    Nowhere in college did I take any classes really geared towards the courses I would be teaching. Yep, I had Calc I, II, III, IV and V, nonEuclidean geometry (which I LOVED), and linear algebra, but no coursework on Euclidean Geometry Proofs. RIght now there's an entire generation of math teachers in NY State who will be expected to teach those proofs (as NY changes its syllabus yet again to the traditional syllabus) but who have never learned those proofs.

    It's a serious failing I think!!
     
  35. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    I was trying to put together my own thoughts on this topic when I came across Jem's post and I realized that what she was saying was just how I feel about my own undergrad degree. Although I did well, it was really meaningless to me until I had spent a few years in the classroom and I began to see a connection to all my classes and to my job as a teacher. I now know that it's all the practical, common sense stuff a good teacher does (best practice) that I learned during my college program. I know how to teach just about anything due to my bachelor degree in education. I also would love the opportunity to take some of the courses I had all those years ago. They would be more meaningful now.
     

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