author: aysha yaqoob | vp of communications, education students’ society
ESS staff respond to initial education article
Disclaimer: This article was written as a response by the Education Student’s Society as a response to the Carillon article “An Education Degree is Basically an Arts and Crafts Degree” written in the Sept. 15 issue of the Carillon.
Sunday evening was spent like every other Sunday – a little bit of catching up on readings and a whole lot of exploring the internet and binge watching Netflix. While randomly scrolling down my Facebook feed, an article titled “An Education Degree is Basically an Arts and Crafts Degree” caught my eye. The article had been shared numerous times by many of my fellow education friends. Written by the Carillon, I assumed it to be a satire piece. Unfortunately, I was proven wrong. The article published in the Carillon was anything but satire.
Just as the title states, the article suggested to readers that a Bachelor of Education degree is synonymous with an “arts and crafts degree.” Now, I’m not quite sure what that is but according to the writer it has to do with the fact that “education students have to spend a ton of time making sick posters for final projects. So, they’re basically getting a degree in arts and crafts.” If only it were that easy.
You’re correct, author, we education students spend a lot of time constructing our “sick posters.” These posters are not only marked on how “pretty” they look, but also on the content and presentation, the latter being the most important as it directly ties with our day to day activities as a teacher. Going more into detail, a current Education student at the University of Regina states that “…half the work of creating a poster or online visual tool is preparing some type of speaking platform to communicate it to others. And teaching, shockingly, involves a lot of speaking, explaining, and keeping people (no matter how old or young) engaged! I think these presentations are a great way to focus on those skills, which translate into credible qualities as a teacher.” These “sick posters” actually entail more than just a pretty border and some amazing pictures – they allow us to get a feel of what our days will look like in a few years and always have more meaning embedded in each piece. According to the Education Students’ Society’s vice president of finance, Dacy Vance, these poster presentations “are a visual aid in my lesson planning. Because posters aren’t just posters. They are never by themselves. And there is always a story behind it.”
In addition to said “sick posters,” we also learn about effective pedagogy, multiple intelligences and differentiated learning, methods of assessment, backward design, the curriculum and all the outcomes and indicators, and how to deconstruct bias and privilege – just to briefly skim over the first month in a first year education class. Oh, but wait – there’s more! The toughest part, according to a general census of education students, isn’t the book study, but rather all the things that cannot be taught, like teaching a class of 30+ diverse learners, the majority of whom aren’t at the same grade level, a lesson that had countless hours of work put into it to ensure that it would match everyone’s needs, and almost never goes as planned.
These are many of the reasons why it is so tough to assess education students using an exam – there is no simple answer to encompass all that is behind teaching. According to a fourth year education student, education classes are rarely ever focused on only book study and memorizing concepts. Instead, “…we are to model what we would do in our own classrooms. Instead of explaining a lesson plan to your peers, we have them do it so they better understand.” Not only are we combining outcomes and assessing the needs of our (future) diverse students in a fun, creative, meaningful and educational lesson plan, but we’re also standing up in front of all of our peers and professors and teaching the said lesson plan as if we were teaching our very own class.
The Education Students’ Society president, Jenny Brouwers, believes that “…the students in this program work very hard everyday, not only towards their degrees, but also with the pressure of knowing they will be educating and changing the futures of the next generation.” Like Jenny, many students share this belief and are thankful to all their professors, academic advisors, and colleagues that have helped them along this journey towards becoming an educator. Riley Arseneau, the vice-president of professional development adds that she is “…thankful for our faculty and our program for providing us with the skills to shape lives and create the socialized, self-aware, and well rounded citizens of the future. We are role models for our students and we work incredibly hard to be just that.”
So here you have it, folks. An extremely summarized look into what the early life of a teacher looks like. From all of us on the Education Students’ Society and from all of the students in one of the largest faculties on campus, we thank the Carillon for posting this ‘article’ and we appreciate all of the many responses to the article. If it were not for you, we wouldn’t be given the opportunity to reach out and thank our wonderful professors and faculty and staff members in the Faculty of Education for teaching us not only what it means to be excellent educators, but for also reminding us why we chose this career in the first place. We are more than just a poster presentation – we are the educators of future generations of informed, engaged, and critical citizens.