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What exactly is an education degree ?

  1. Jul 12, 2011 #1
    What exactly is an "education degree"?

    I've been wondering that for a while. What exactly is an education degree? It is just a paper that says you can get a job in a high school?

    How exactly do you "train" for the degree? I've met tons of people without an education degree who are great teachers, so what exactly do you "learn" from getting an education degee?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 12, 2011 #2
    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach, teach teachers.
  4. Jul 12, 2011 #3

    Chi Meson

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    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    As a teacher, I find that remark highly...


    Now for an answer to the OP: A degree in "education" will generally allow a person to teach grade school. In order to teach High School, in most states, you need to have a proper degree in the area you are teaching. There are degrees such as "Physics Education" which will allow people to teach high school physics, for example; those degrees include actual, bona fide physics classes (such is the case at UVA).

    A master's degree in education will allow a teacher to be paid more money. A PhD in education will allow teachers to become administrators and call themselves "doctor."

    Nevertheless, even with a degree in Physics, I had to take a bunch of absolutely useless classes (plus 2 or 3 useful ones) to get a certification. During this process I met several people who should have been banned from all classrooms (some of these people were the instructors).
  5. Jul 12, 2011 #4
    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    Depending upon the level (Bachelor's, Master's or PhD), an education degree teaches about theories of learning, how to teach a diverse student population, adolescent psychology, among others. A lot of it (at the M. Ed. level) is student teaching, where you practice writing lessons, teaching, and reflecting upon your experiences as a teacher. At the PhD level, it's research into teaching methods or learning theories.

    That's rather insulting to teachers. While it's true a number of teachers aren't well suited to research type positions, there are a number who are suited to it but prefer to educate young minds. The old, "Lecture and they will learn" idea doesn't work very well, even at the college level. During my stint in the Ohio State MEd program, I saw a video of researchers interviewing MIT physics graduates (B.S.) who couldn't figure out how to, let alone the fact, that you can light a light bulb with only a battery and a wire. Most thought you couldn't do it. It was a travesty.

    Too often in schools, teachers merely lecture, and students don't really understand the concepts. They merely jump through hoops memorizing formulae and practicing those equations in different configurations. That's not really understanding, at a deep level.
  6. Jul 12, 2011 #5
    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    I would agree on that point to an extent. At Ohio State, I took the same class (or rather, different classes with, it seemed, the same content) several times. Not a lot of variety, just the, "Constructvism is good and here's how you do it" type class several times over. The teachers, though, for the most part, were rather decent. It was some of the other high school teachers I observed that gave me the heebeejeebies.
  7. Jul 12, 2011 #6
    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    That expression is part of a conventional ‘wisdom’ – I might call it a conventional cynicism – that needs to be challenged. In point of fact, teachers, good teachers have always been among the most important contributors to anything worthy of the name ‘society’. And, as with anything else, quality training for those who wish to fill that role is vital. I wear no rose tinted spectacles, yes there are some who are employed as teachers who do not make a particularly positive influence on those unfortunate enough to be among their ‘pupils’. But that is no justification for sullying the whole profession, or for belittling the qualifications that acknowledge the efforts they have made to undertake training for the role. I should make it clear, neither I nor anyone close to me is a teacher.
  8. Jul 12, 2011 #7
    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    It's an old joke and like most of my material, lifted. I got it from, you guessed it, a professor of education.
  9. Jul 12, 2011 #8
    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    Well it is something much heard in the UK. So much so that a very clever television advertisement to recruit new teachers made ironic reference to it and finished with the slogan ‘Those who can, teach.’
  10. Jul 12, 2011 #9
    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    It's a very common argument: I know successful people without a degree so degrees are useless.
  11. Jul 13, 2011 #10
    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    In the book, "Choke," the other points out the elementary education majors have the highest levels of math anxiety, and correspondingly lower math skills, THAN ANY OTHER COLLEGE MAJOR!

    Hmm...I wonder why kids nowadays can't do math???
  12. Jul 13, 2011 #11
    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    I agree that good teachers are invaluable. However, a master's or PhD in "Education" doesn't make one a good teacher. There are countless great teachers who've never taken an "education" course, and there are countless credentialed teachers who still can't teach worth beans.
  13. Jul 13, 2011 #12
    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    Okay, I'm guessing that neither of us have conducted any formal research or are even quoting figures from research done by others, so we are both just speculating. And, of course, I don't really know how it is in the US, I am just extrapolating that it is likely to be quite similar to how it is here in the UK. In any case, yes I accept that some, as you called them 'credentialed' teachers are, nonetheless, not very good at teaching. And I certainly accept that many great teachers have never had any formal training in teaching. But at the demographic level, I would suggest that the majority of teachers are pretty good at what they do (the evidence for that is around you in broader society) and benefitted from some targetted training in proven techniques of teaching.
  14. Jul 13, 2011 #13
    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    I still don't understand, my high school physics teacher was referred as "dr. name"

    Before I didn't understand why, but now I do thanks to Chi.

    Unfortunately he was terrible, every lesson was like him talking to himself in his own world.

    So what do you learn or study in an education degree? How can you even study it for over four years -ish? Let alone getting a PhD in education?
  15. Jul 13, 2011 #14

    Chi Meson

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    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    I have 30 hours of credit in "education" and I still can't answer that question.
  16. Jul 13, 2011 #15
    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    Only 30 hrs? I thought that Ph.D you need to do original research, how many "original" research can you do in education? I don't understand
  17. Jul 13, 2011 #16
    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    There's a couple of people in my lectures studying science education. They take majority of the same modules that I do except for two which are switched for education. They have a day a week (or it might be every two weeks, I've never made that much attention) where they help out in secondary schools. It appears to be a very practical way to get into teaching.
  18. Jul 13, 2011 #17
    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    Original research for a PhD in education involves a ton of gathering statistics about some aspect of learning trends, doing statistical analysis, and coming to conclusions based on those trends.
  19. Jul 13, 2011 #18
    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    Something that hasn't been mentioned (at least in my brief review of posts):
    "Certification" or "licensure" is the piece of paper that says you can teach (in the US, for a given state). Completion of certain coursework, including "field work" (or documented observation and teaching time in front of classrooms), is generally part of the certification process, as is (again in the US), some standardized testing on the theory and practice of teaching, and subject matter (the so-called "Praxis" exams). Some education degree programs are designed to take someone with a BS in a field (such as math, physics, engineering, etc.) and meet the aforementioned requirements (via something like in M.Ed. in classroom teaching). Other education degrees are designed to meet other needs in education (counseling, administration, etc.).. which probably also require a different license.
  20. Jul 13, 2011 #19
    Re: What exactly is an "education degree"?

    Thanks for that also. After a number of degrees (in physics engineering and education)... I prefer to teach (albeit at the college level) because I'm with not locked up in a darkened laser-lab... and I like the flexibility it gives me for my family (although the pay isn't great).

    Teaching at the college level is even more flexible, but you'll need at least an MS in the field (and possibly a Ph.D.). At our institution (a flagship state university), everyone who teaches in our department has Ph.D. in Physics or Astronomy (meaning everyone has done original research at the level required for a Ph.D.).
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