One corner of the economy that remains a constant throughout the many fluctuations and changes in business, industry, and society, is education. Education is federally mandated for young people through the age of sixteen, and is the most popular choice for students past that age as well. As such, the population will always require teachers certified to instruct students from the earliest stages of development in pre-school through the later stages of beginning adulthood. Majoring in education is a choice not to be made lightly, but a secure decision that comes with many opportunities to affect the youth of today and tomorrow, who in turn will reflect values learned in school onto their adult lives.
Options for Education Majors
Because students require such different methods of education from their early years through their teen years, teachers require different educations themselves in order to instruct on these levels. While each state varies in their guidelines for certification, there are typically a few different paths you can take as an education student, depending on which age group and/or subject you would like to teach. Majors such as family and youth studies open the door for pre-school teachers; many programs tailored to potential pre-school and kindergarten teachers exist as well. Elementary education is a major in and of itself, and leads the student to certification to teach kindergarten through 6th grade, or sometimes 8th, depending on the school and the state. In order to teach a high school subject such as English or science, students will need to become certified as secondary education teachers (6-12th grade), as well as master their subject of choice. Certain teachers of special subjects such as art, music, health and physical education, and special education typically receive certification for all grades and are not restricted to a certain age group or level of schooling, though they may choose to work in one based on preference.
Education Programs in College
The core of education programs vary from school to school and from certification level to certification level. What you can consistently expect from an education program is to learn methods, practices, guidelines and regulations in state and federal boards of education, and how to, well, be a teacher. You will uncover educational theories, the psychology of students, foundations of education in history, and best practices for classroom management, understanding and applying curriculum, how to create lesson plans, and what is expected of you as a professional. Because no lecture or slideshow can prepare you for all the issues that can arise in your classroom, you can expect to spend a significant amount of time in local schools, observing faculty and staff, and student teaching under the supervision of a veteran teacher.
Not all education programs are created equal, so it’s best to do some research into the schools you are considering and their programs. It’s also important to be sure you’re selecting the best age group and certification area for your skills, interests, and personality type.