My school sent me to a conference at my alma mater this week, which was great. Two days of sitting in actually interesting classes (unlike county PD), eating lunch without once screaming, “Why are you incapable of eating like a human being,” and all the vendors have free candy that you’re probably only supposed to take if you listen to their pitch but whatever.
This also provided me the opportunity to do a quick nostalgia tour of my college town. Drive by my old digs while blasting Barenaked Ladies? Check. Visit the room where I met–and mostly ignored— the man I would eventually marry? Check. Favorite bar and best tacos in town? Check. I also swung by the College of Education, the ugliest building on campus, where I thought about all that I learned—and didn’t learn—while earning my aptly-named BS in Education.
I Learned: Bloom’s Taxonomy until it was more familiar to me than the sound of my own name.
I Didn’t Learn: Any of the 700 acronyms that would prove far more essential to the daily grind than Bloom or Maslow or Gardner. Granted, half those acronyms didn’t exist yet, but I still can’t for the life of me remember what CCRPI stands for.
I Learned: How to create an in-depth, detailed rubric with tiny boxes of text no student would ever read.
I Didn’t Learn: How to fix the %#&*ing copier. That should be a full class. Final exam is collated, hole-punched, and stapled. Like, you have to print out the final exam with those features. The test itself is just numbered sheets of paper. Extra credit if you can enlarge a copy for the legally blind kid.
I Learned: How to write multipage lesson plans for a single class period, including focused discussion topics and anticipating student questions.
I Didn’t Learn: How to handle productive chaos. They teach you how to theoretically keep the kids in their seats and quiet, but not what to do if that’s not what your lesson requires. I think maybe for part of a semester, every education student should be required to own a spider monkey. And every day, it’s one student’s job to take notes and learn the material while simultaneously wrangling all their classmate’s spider monkeys. On a unicycle. Also, when they had us anticipate student questions in college, they never told us that the second a discussion gets interesting, someone will inevitably make you completely lose your train of thought by asking to go to the bathroom.
I Learned: Seventy-six traits to focus on in narrative, persuasive, and expository writing.
I Didn’t Learn: What to do when a kid takes his pants off in class. (Answer: Look away. Quickly. Before you respond. Some things you can’t unsee.)
I Learned: How helpful the last set of standards were in improving education.
I Didn’t Learn: That every time the standards change, someone says, “The old standards were a mile wide and an inch deep. But the new standards are an inch wide and a mile deep!” Every. Damn. Time. “The old standards said they had to read nonfiction. But these standards say they have to understand it!”
I Learned: The importance of choosing diverse authors in a Language Arts class.
I Didn’t Learn: The importance of understanding the actual diversity in my classroom. Diverse authors are important–that one was worthwhile. But the first time I yelled at a kid for not eating anything for lunch, only to find out it was Ramadan, I wondered if there might not be some gaps in my education. I also learned that my white people notions of parenting are not necessarily universal. I’d call this course Cultural Diversity: Don’t Call Child Welfare Every Time a Hispanic Kid Talks About La Chancla.
I Learned: Prevailing theories at the time regarding school uniforms, social promotion, and grading for mastery versus effort.
I Didn’t Learn: Kung fu. I probably wouldn’t use it any more than all the stuff I did learn, but it would sound a lot cooler.
What about you? What do you think is missing from most education degree programs?