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Student teachers

Observer Viewpoint | Friday, April 21, 2006

My roommate this year is an education major, so was one of my roommates last year, and many of my other friends are as well.

This being said, I have witnessed a lot of homework assignments and projects over the last few years which they have had to complete a lot of really pointless assignments and projects. I have never seen anyone have to do as much busy work as education majors, and while the work may not be the most challenging tasks at all times, they take an extreme amount of time to complete.

For example, education majors are frequently required to create what are referred to as “units,” basically consisting of a month’s worth of lesson plans. Now, this might sound like a quick and simple undertaking; however, it gets more complicated when you take into account that not only do they have to design these lessons they actually have to physically create them. This translates into one month’s worth of worksheets, games, evaluations, explanations, etc.

What really gets me though is that my current roommate can make a mean game to teach children phonics and word blends, but when it comes to evaluating a student’s writing she has no idea where to begin because this is a topic never covered in her coursework.

Personally, I’d rather know that the people who will be teaching my children in the future have a firm grasp on the English language and are well educated in the various subject standards students should be achieving at different stages of education rather than knowing that they’ve spent $100,000 to spend four years learning how to cut up pieces of construction paper.

Of course, we must remember that the education majors are only doing what is asked of them by their professors, and they are doing it well. Creativity is certainly being fostered, however, maybe a bit too much. But then, I’m not an education major or a professor so how would I know.

What I do know is that these students put a lot of hard work and dedication into their work and receive quite a bit of ridicule from their peers because they aren’t in a “real major.”

However, there could not be anything more real about a major which requires you to take on the work of a professional for two years before you can meet graduation requirements. I tutored children in reading and math in the past, and I was only in charge of anywhere from one to four children, but I had a difficult time controlling them and keeping them on task. Education majors on the other hand are usually in charge of thirty children or teenagers depending on what grade they are assigned to for student teaching. I can only imagine the challenges they have to face in such circumstances.

So, I would like to salute you, the education majors who spend countless hours at “The Learning Tree” coping, cutting, pasting and laminating, and more hours hunched at computer screens typing fifty plus page case studies and lesson plans, all so you can deal with temperamental children, critical parents, and a tiny paycheck as thanks in the future.