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The Breakdown

Maybe you appreciate the way your 6th grade language arts teacher nurtured your nascent writing talent. Maybe you enjoy being a catalyst for a “light bulb” moment. Maybe you simply like working with children. Or perhaps you just find that sweet, sweet summer vacation too enticing to pass up. Whatever the reason, you think education could very well be the path for you.

As an education major, you’ll have a healthy balance between theory and application. You’ll study a variety of educational models and explore how policy has evolved throughout the years. Of course, you’ll also have practical training in topics such as literacy and curriculum development. Most programs will have you to choose a focus, be it early education (pre-k), primary education (k-8th) or secondary education (9th-12th). Though it might require additional coursework, some schools will also offer the possibility of specializing in areas like English as a second language or gifted and talented. Towards the end of your college tenure, you’ll step into the classroom as a student teacher. Under guidance and supervision, you’ll have the opportunity to test out lesson plans and methods for classroom management. The experience will no doubt prove to be a valuable stepping stone for your first teaching gig. Finally, it should be noted that a number of undergraduate programs only offer education as a minor, or as part of a double-major. Fortunately, nearly all schools will prepare you for state certification licensure regardless.

Education is a terrific course of study for those people who are both curious and concerned with how we learn. The strongest candidates are students who are organized, flexible and for whom patience is the most prized of virtues. Excellent communication and listening skills are also key to classroom success.

Nuts and Bolts

Education majors might enroll in classes such as: Literacy in Pre-school and Elementary Years, Educating for Democracy, Curriculum and Methods, Teaching Writing: Theory and Practice, Gender, Power and Leadership, History and Philosophy of Progressive Education, Childhood in Society, Student Teaching Practicum.

Decisions, Decisions

Undergrads thinking about pursuing education are also likely to be interested in human development, psychology, sociology, anthropology, gender studies and child and family studies.

What's Next

We all recognize majoring in education can lead you directly into the classroom. And many ed majors sustain satisfying teaching careers over the course of their professional life. As you’re also no doubt aware, some translate classroom experience into administrative positions and become principals, vice principals, guidance counselors, etc. However, others find a passion for policy work and land jobs at non-profits, think tanks and various departments of education. Additionally, some majors take advantage of their extensive knowledge of child development and education and seek employment with companies that create products and entertainment for children. Still others combine their studies with a passion for other cultures and look for work involving international education, be it study abroad or development in third world countries.


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Don Munce