Having a different major from your roommate or neighbors is one of the interesting aspects of college. Everyone is here to pursue their own passions, and collectively we make up a pretty good…community. Liberal arts colleges require all students to take general education courses, but the real joy comes when you get to study what interests you most, not just what is required of you.
However, having to choose just one specific major can sometimes feel limiting – four years is a small amount of time to cram in all the education you may desire. Four years is also a short amount of time to learn about learning, teach about learning, learn about teaching and teach about teaching. Say what? Welcome to the education department; it’s time to take a look at what life is like for them.
Sophomore Hannah Krohn is an elementary education major with an endorsement in special education and reading. Her dream job would be to work with special education students in kindergarten through second grade in one-on-one situations. “I guess it took me a while to realize that I wanted to major in elementary education. I took a bunch of personality tests in the Franken center and decided that that was where God wanted me to be. I love working with kids – especially kids that are the ‘underdog’ in the classroom,” she said.
What does she love most about being an education major? “The feeling you get from younger kids when they absolutely adore everything you do!” Krohn also says she loves working with her cohorts in her education classes. “They’re all really fun and outgoing,” she stated, “and it’s fun to bounce ideas off of each other and see what everyone has to say.” Hannah’s classes this semester include Teaching Reading and Language Arts, Classroom Behavior Management (discipline, she states, will be the hardest thing for her as an educator) and Early Field Experience.
What’s neat about education majors is how often they get to be in the classroom with elementary or middle school students. Starting right away in their freshman year, these students are required to observe in classrooms around the area to prepare themselves for student teaching where they’ll be placed solely in charge of a classroom for a semester.
Senior Stephanie Wilcox has a much different outlook on the education major. She is a secondary education major with an emphasis in history. She would love to work in a high school in the inner city somewhere. “I really like being around people and kids,” she said when asked why this is the major she chose. “I like the feeling of helping people understand problems in their lives. I really hope to be a positive influence in kids’ lives, just like the teachers whom I’ve had in the past have been.”
No major is without its challenges, and for Wilcox, the biggest obstacle will be assuming the position of being in charge in a classroom. “Knowing that the kids look up to you for all the answers is a challenge for me,” she admits. Wilcox’s favorite class this semester is human relations, and she also takes an abundance of tricky history classes in order to prepare for teaching history at a high school level.
Education classes can sound incredibly complex. Take Professor Sharon McGarvey’s class, “Characteristics of Learners with Mild to Moderate Disabilities,” for example. Junior Sherry Runia, who is a member of that class, said, “It seems more like a science class with all of the terms of disabilities we have to learn.”
On top of managing a classroom and knowing the needs of each student, education majors will be the driving force that will carry the next generation into political and business leadership roles 40 years from now. No pressure.