Majoring in Education? Help please!

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by aquashelle, Jan 26, 2012.

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  1. aquashelle

    aquashelle New Member

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    Jan 26, 2012

    Hello there, I'd like to greet all the members of this site before I begin. It's nice to meet you all!

    I'm a HS senior and am interning at a local middle school. I have been planning out my degree plan, but have gotten mixed reviews from the teachers I spoke to, so before I pester some of my others, I figured I'd ask online through this lovely community. :hugs:

    I will be attending a local University that has an excellent education program. In fact, it was originally created to produce great teachers. My question is this:

    I was planning to major in Interdisciplinary Studies (Aka Education) and to minor in Mathematics/Science Composite so that I would be set up to teach either middle school math or science. It sounds like a good idea in all honesty, and provides internships junior and senior year.

    However, one teacher highly discouraged this plan, and said that to major in education would harshly limit my employment opportunities in comparison to say, a science degree which is what I originally wanted to do a while ago. Is this true? If you teach middle school, what did you major in?

    The only sciences this University offers to really major in are biology and chemistry, so I guess Biology would be my next choice, or possibly psychology? I'm at a loss here. If I major in something else, I will either have to fight to fit in the necessary classes to get my certification, or pay extra to do the courses online. Help please? I'm in the state of Texas.

    Thank you all, and have a great evening!
     
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  3. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Jan 27, 2012

    Do the education degree.

    I'm currently in college (In my fourth year, going to do five). I am majoring in Special Education K-5 w/ a content area in History.

    At least in my state (NJ), psychology as a content area for anything other than P-3 is not advised, due to how... limiting it is (Particularly K-5 and 5-8, as there would be no psychology courses, making it so you would not be considered highly qualified)
     
  4. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Am I correct that your original plan was to major in science?

    It's nearly always easier to take a bachelor's in science or math and transition into an education career (at worst, via ACP) than it is to take a bachelor's in education and transition into a science career. There's also a great deal to be said for knowing your subject matter as solidly as you'll know it if you major in science.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I agree.

    If you want to teach science, I would major in science.

    From my point of view, it's not about employment, it's about the kind of teacher you'll become.

    You want to be the kind of teacher who knows as much as possible about your subject matter, who can pull examples and resources from other courses and branches of science. You want to be the kind of teacher who can answer even those questions that are off the topic-- that deal with what they'll learn next year or the year later. You want to be that teacher who has a broad knowledge of your subject matter-- you simply can NOT teach (well, teach effectively) that which you do not know.

    And, as long as you brought up employment, you also want to be the kind of teacher who could teach either middle school or high school. As you progress through internships and student teaching, you may very well find you prefer high school. If so, you certainly want to be able to easily slide into that job market. For what it's worth, the best job market in education in most places is for Chem, Physics and high school math. It's close to impossible to find a qualified Physics teacher in many places.

    The best of luck to you as you figure all this out!
     
  6. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jan 27, 2012

    I teach middle school and did the traditional elementary certificate with my middle school endorsements added to the certificate. Having the math/science endorsements have made finding a job for me quite easy, but I haven't switched in this tough economy times...

    Do you ever plan to watch to teach younger or older than middle school? If you want to teach younger---I'd go with the interdisciplinary certificate for sure. If you want to teach older, than there is something said about majoring in science...but you might lose your math endorsement due to time factors. And having the ability to teach math and science is much more marketable at the middle school level than just science.
     
  7. TeachingHistory

    TeachingHistory Companion

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    If its practical in any way shape or form, I would get your bachelors in science. The only reason I say this is because at my college, I had to major in History and then "minor" (I use that term loosely, it was more credits than my major and dictated my entire schedule) in Secondary Ed. I'm am very grateful for the experience of participating in a program where I had the same experiences as those with plans to get their masters and doctorate and was able to go to conferences and write a thesis. I truly believe it gave me a much better understanding of how to teach my subject, because I know the skill sets it needs so much better now.
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    In my experience, BA/BS degrees in Education aren't very worthwhile at the secondary level. If you're going to teach at the secondary level, major in the subject you want to teach. If you want to teach science, major in science. It'll make you more marketable and more likely to meet Highly Qualified requirements if they still exist when you enter the field. Go ahead and minor in Ed or Secondary Ed if that option is available to you so that you can go ahead and qualify for your teaching license upon graduation.
     
  9. aquashelle

    aquashelle New Member

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    Thank you all so much for the quick responses! I do greatly appreciate the help from those who have experience being in my current shoes. I think I shall go ahead and major in biology then, and try out for the teacher preparation program my University offers. Thank you all so much! :)
     
  10. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    I teach middle school language arts, and I have a degree in English with a masters in American & British literature.

    I was originally teaching high school English, specifically juniors and seniors. That's why I chose the masters program that I did. It's still helpful in my middle grades, though.
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aquashelle, would you consider chem or math instead?

    Now I AM thinking of the job market. There are Billions (ok, slightly fewer than that) of unemployed Biology teachers. It seems that anyone who ever washed out of PreMed is qualified to teach Bio.

    Chem, Physics and math are far better job markets.
     
  12. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I think it's 100% better to major in science education than a hard science if you're planning on going into teaching. I majored in bio ed, and there were only a few differences between my major and the biology major (I took non-calc physics, they took calc physics). I disagree that the knowledge of the subject is the most important part, I think the time in the classroom you get with an ed degree is priceless. You can always take more science classes, but what makes a good teacher better is having experience in the classroom. That's something that can just not be taught.

    edit:

    I just went and read all the replies, I don't know this community well but I didn't see any science teachers post except for me. I'd go to your university and compare the two curriculum. In my university, as I said before, I had WAY more classes with bio majors than with ed majors. In fact the only ed classes I had were observation or student teaching classes. Almost all my classes were in the biology major line.
     
  13. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Jan 28, 2012

    I teach 7th grade LA. I have a degree in English.

    I think - at the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade levels - you can be equally successful as a teacher with a degree in education or your subject matter (though FL does require at least 15 credits in your subject area). For high school, my state requires either a degree in your subject area or 30 credits in your subject.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd major in a science and complete a credential program for teaching while in college. I did trial-by-fire (taking the req. ed courses after I started teaching), and I do not recommend it.
     
  14. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Oh another thing I want to add- some people have mentioned that getting a science degree would help your chances with employment. I had a biology education degree, and had it reviewed and got Comprehensive Science (meaning ALL secondary sciences) AND middle grades tacked on. Just by looking at how many and the variety of science courses I took.

    I might be the only one, but I truly believe the time in the classroom is so much more important than the content.
     
  15. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I thought Interdisciplinary Studies was only for elementary teachers. Major in the subject you want to teach if you want a secondary certification.
     
  16. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    Certainly if you anticipate ever teaching high school I would recommend that you major in your subject area. It can be difficult to earn high school students' respect if you do not have a solid mastery of your subject matter, by which I mean a mastery which goes well beyond the particular subject matter you are teaching them that week. They will ask you questions - thankfully! - and will detect with surprising accuracy whatever weakness there may be in this respect. It's a challenge, an exciting one if you're up to it.

    When I was department head, we always looked with greater favor on applicants with a major in the subject area.
     
  17. aquashelle

    aquashelle New Member

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    Thank you again all for the replies. I'm still struggling with the decision, and I wish the reviews weren't so mixed all over the board.

    I've heard valid points from both sides, being that the time spent in the classroom in education classes is valuable, and that focusing more on the academics makes your more qualified.

    I suppose looking back on my own teachers, I'd have to base it off my opinions of their teaching styles, and what they majored in.

    Definitely still thinking on it. I will either be going to Sam Houston State University, where I'll major in Interdisciplinary Studies with the Mathematics/Science Composite, or to Texas A&M Galveston to major in Marine Sciences and then earn my certificate in middle school science.

    I really don't want to teach High school I don't think, as I'd rather transition to Elementary school if needed...So I think the education degree might be more helpful there. I am just fighting on how limiting it might be in employment.
     
  18. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    All the classroom experience in the world is utterly worthless if you don't know your content. Cold. And well above the level you intend to teach. Nothing irks me more at the post-secondary level than having to re-teach material because middle and high school teachers didn't know their content beyond what they were teaching, and sometimes not even that. If you have no idea where a topic is going, you can't set a proper foundation, then not only have you not taught the material at hand, you've actually caused harm to your students.

    As you might guess, I recommend majoring in a hard science and minoring in education, or double majoring, even if it takes an extra year.
     
  19. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I recommend majoring in the content area you want to teach. In the colleges I looked at, most of the education programs were watered down. One of the math education programs only had a few math classes and many education classes. I found my education classes to be somewhat helpful, but the classes I took in my content were the most helpful. I personally think that it's best to major in your content area. If you want the science education major, I would carefully look at the course requirements and make sure there are a lot of good and challenging science classes involved in that program.
    Also, being certified to teach high school will open up more job opportunities for you. Do your colleges offer a middle grades education program, or will you be certified to teach middle school and high school?
    And, good luck with your college decision.
     
  20. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    Excuse me as I hijack this thread for a moment...

    I'm transferring to a different college next semester (back to SUNY Fredonia). I've already done 2 years at this community college. Would it be better for me to get my B.S. in Mathematics and then do education in my master's program? Cause as of right now, I have one class that will transfer to Fredonia's education program... I have another 30 credits of education classes to go, and that's going to keep me there for probably another 3 semesters plus student teaching.

    If I do the B.S. Math Education, I will barely have time for even a minor in anything else. Plus I'll be there longer. If I do the B.S. in Math, I'll have much more time to possibly pick up a minor in physics (to get certification in that too) plus a minor in something I'll enjoy (probably music or theatre)... oh, and I'm 12 credits away from meeting NYS requirements for Social Studies certification as well! (would NOT mind teaching sociology), and then come back here to do my master's in Math Ed at Stony Brook (or maybe NYU or Columbia!).

    Here's how the math classes match up between the Math Ed program and the Math program:
    The education classes I'll have to tack on are:
    Doesn't seem like a lot but it's another 30 credits, and some of the classes are LONG and take up multiple time blocks, which will make it hard to schedule other classes. Not to mention practicum time... :dizzy:
     
  21. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I vote for math rather than math ed, riku92mr.
     
  22. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I agree.

    With a solid background in math, you won't need a backup plan. And you'll be a far stronger teacher.
     
  23. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I would go with math as well. It's nice to have a math degree so you have a backup in case teaching doesn't work out.
    However, I would add Geometry to the math major.
     
  24. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Go with Math. Make Topology your special 400 level course. :D

    (In the interest of full disclosure, I absolutely detest topology, but I got a lot out of it and definitely see its value as a teacher.)
     
  25. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I loved non-Euclidean geometry. It messes with your head a bit, but it's a lot of fun.
     
  26. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    That's what I was thinking, too.

    "in case teaching doesn't work out" Trying not to think like that! I know they say you don't really know for sure until your second (?) year, but don't know... it just feels right.

    But if teaching doesn't work out, I'm going back to theatre, either performing or administration.

    They're actually offering that next semester... but I don't have the prerequisite done yet. :(

    non-Euclidean is built into that geometry class I mentioned: "Study of absolute, Euclidean, and hyperbolic geometry from synthetic and analytic viewpoints. Topics include axioms for geometries, transformations, triangles and other basic shapes, and constructions. Some consideration given to finite, spherical, and spatial geometry. Use of geometry software."
     
  27. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    This is why I recommended topology. At a 400 level, topology should open up just enough to give the student a really decent look at various geometries, and the theory behind them. I really don't like geometry, but taking topology made me a much better teacher.
     
  28. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    ^^^
    Of course I hope teaching works out for you! I feel the same way; I would be upset if it doesn't work out for me because I love it so much.
    I was just saying that a math major would give you a better back up than a math education major. I'm sorry if I implied that it wouldn't work out; it was not meant like that.
     
  29. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    Ahh okay I see. I read into things too much sometimes. Makes me a good English student though!
     
  30. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    What pre-req are you missing? Does your school offer the class at least once per academic year? As much as I don't like the subject, I do consider it one of the most useful courses I took in regards to teaching middle school math (abstract algebra being the other course I think everybody should take).
     
  31. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    I'm missing "Structures and Proofs". It's the "gateway" class to all the upper-level courses. It's basically a prereq for EVERYTHING above Calc 3. From what I can see, special topics rotate every semester, cycling every 3 semesters. So it'll be offered again 2nd semester my senior year.
     
  32. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Ahhh. My university called it "Introduction to Abstract Mathematics". Take that one as soon as possible. I have used ALL my 400/500 level courses as a middle school teacher, and I had an astounding number of "eureka" moments regarding lower level courses while I was studying the upper level ones. Good luck!
     
  33. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    I'll definitely make sure it finds its way onto my schedule before I graduate! And if not, I'll make sure I take it in grad school.

    Can anyone comment on marketability with this new plan?
     
  34. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    My school (and especially my department head) strongly prefers hiring teachers who have done the content area major, rather than the education major.
     
  35. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I would rather a teacher had the content knowledge. You don't want to get me started on irritated I get when I have to explain basic math to my older kids' teachers. If I ever wind up back in a position to hire, you bet I'd put content knowledge above everything else. You can love kids and be passionate about teaching, but if you don't know the content, you're toast.
     
  36. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Absolutely!!! It drives me crazy when teachers don't know their stuff. (You can find lots of my rants here on having to reteach information that was incorrectly taught by teachers who don't know their stuff.)

    Without content knowledge, you're qualified to be a camp counselor, not a teacher.
     
  37. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    Find another career choice. I am serious about this.
     
  38. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    Baloney. "Content knowledge" isn't required for elementary teachers, only for those who specialize in secondary education. I am sick and tired of the garbage that says teachers who major in education are stupid.
     
  39. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    When I observed in a classroom, there was a middle school math teacher that asked me to help her review what all of the trig functions meant because she had to teach it in two days. :(
     
  40. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I'm sorry if teaching hasn't been good for you, but it's no reason to dissuade a student from following his/her dream.
    I am a new teacher, and I am very happy right now.
     
  41. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Elementary teachers teach content as well, and thus, need content knowledge. Elementary education programs should make sure that all teachers are strong on the elementary content and beyond.
    No one ever said that teachers who major in education are stupid. We said that at the secondary level, it would be better to major in the actual subject.
     
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