To mark World Teachers’ Day on October 5, Dr Ruth Mieschbuehler, Programme Leader for Education Studies at the University of Derby and Executive Committee Member of the British Education Studies Association, shares her thoughts on why Education Studies could be the perfect preparation for teaching or any other career in education.
Teaching is one of the most important professions, as future generations of young people must be the heirs to the intellectual and cultural heritage of society. We can define education in the words of Matthew Arnold, the 19th century poet and cultural critic, as a ‘disinterested endeavour to learn and propagate the best that is known and thought in the world’.
Education is a noble profession with two broad routes available into the industry. Education Studies is a knowledge-rich route. Once you have the knowledge that this unique course offers, there are multiple doors opened to careers you may not have thought of.
Practically-minded students may prefer a training route straight into teaching, where they will learn the skills necessary to do the job. Students genuinely have a choice, but here I will put forward the arguments for Education Studies.
Careers in Teaching
When it comes to a career in teaching, Education Studies may not always be seen as the first choice compared with a Bachelor of Education (BEd) programme, a dedicated teacher training programme. This path may appeal to some individuals, but my advice would be to explore Education Studies if you are thinking of a teaching career as students on this course will know so much by the end of their degree. They will have a thorough, in-depth and critical understanding of theories of education and about their application. They will know that there are different approaches to education, schooling and teaching, their strengths and weaknesses and which approach they want to excel in.
Education Studies students will be taught the foundational disciplines of education, which are history, sociology, philosophy and psychology. These are all important subjects because the study of history introduces students to ‘what was’, sociology shows ‘what is’, philosophy encourages thinking about ‘what should be’ and psychology shows ‘what we can be’. The knowledge and understanding that the study of these disciplines provides is essential if you want to become a good teacher.
Free speech is allowed
Education Studies students will learn to discuss, revise, refine and defend their viewpoints. The educationalist Tyrrell Burgess once said that there are many in education who think they know ‘what works’ and all that is needed is for that to be ‘implemented’. While it is true that many think they know, the fact is that they may be ill-informed and have hardly ever, if at all, been exposed to alternative views. Education Studies students will know how to spot fads and fallacies in educational thought.
The best, and soon most popular, way into teaching
Education Studies, some believe, has at the present time a lower professional profile than teacher training courses but, as schools move towards knowledge-rich curricula, it may soon overtake these programmes as a foundation for teaching and other careers. There are a wide range of other career possibilities that a degree in Education Studies can lead to, including a career in early-years education, training organisations, charities or in education research.
Education Studies is fascinating and academically sound. It rests on a belief in the importance of scholarship, which students appreciate and can pass on to their pupils and future working colleagues.
If there is one thing we should all remember on World Teachers’ Day, it is that Education Studies is a great option for anybody minded to pursue a career in education. Go for it.