Education studies evolved from the pedagogical background of teacher training. In the past, this discipline of studies concentrated mainly on the training of future educators. However, nowadays with the growing complexity of educational systems and technological advancements, educational studies offer exciting, new approaches to teaching and curriculum development. Apart from a deep understanding of the complexity of education and schooling systems, learning about psychological and social foundations of education in contemporary and historical contexts, education studies also emphasize the importance of the way education intersects with a broad range of social, cultural, political and economic forces.
Choosing education as a discipline of studies provides various specialization opportunities, to fit what one is truly interested in. To name a few, the college of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Human Development & Learning, Urban Education: Elementary Education, Early Childhood Education, Instructional Leadership, Language, Literacies & Learning, Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics & Assessment, Science Education, Special Education and Youth Development. Liverpool University offers a course in Academic Practice, and the University of Utah offers a bachelor's in Education and Special Education.
What can you do with a degree in education?
Shortage of teaching staff across all levels of the educational system and a variety of institutions, not only schools, has been a topic of many debates. The problem is that filling in the existing positions will take ages as training somebody to become a teacher is a lengthy process. The process cannot be sped up due to the risk of compromising the quality of delivered education.
However, individuals with a background in education and teaching do not necessarily need to connect their future careers with teaching. In fact, educators are needed in all sectors including businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, communities, policy centres, the cultural sector, adult education centres and even hospitals.
A degree in education allows applying for a variety of jobs. These may include the most obvious choices such as school teacher, private tutor, academic advisor, community coordinator, instructional designer, youth development and early childhood educators. However, there are in fact limitless choices in other sectors that may not necessarily have an obvious connection with the field of education. These may include:
- working for non-profit organizations (transitional shelters, and refugee centres),
- social and educational policy jobs (research analyst),
- corporate careers (in HR, marketing, customer service),
- education law positions (social worker),
- working as a career counsellor or a recruiter,
- working with the development of educational programs (as an education publisher or developer),
- cultural industry jobs (in museums and with exhibitions)
- working in science centres.
Therefore, studies dedicated to education are not only a straight pathway to a teaching career, but they are also a way to introduce and promote educational and societal change outside the classroom.
Reasons to study education.
- Educating future generations and improving lives
There are multiple reasons why one chooses to study education. For those who dedicate their career to teaching one of the most important and at the same time, the most respected factor is the importance of educating future generations and improving their lives through sustainable development. While among the most common reasons for lack of education across the world are poverty and lack of understanding of the crucial role of education, disabilities and difficulties with accessing school, distance-living in remote areas or belonging to nomadic communities, or living in conflict-affected regions or country, these are factors that the average learner (not to mention a young learner, a pupil) has no influence on or can easily change it or adjust to it. By denying access to education to those who need it strongest, humankind is taking a massive step back. Providing individuals with access to education creates safe lives and equips them with skills that allow the rebuilding of societies and improve the overall situation (Brandt, 2015).
- Belief in the power of education can affect poverty numbers
As stated by Yoka Brandt a UNICEF Deputy Executive Director during the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos: “Education can put people on a path towards good health, empowerment and employment. It can help to build more peaceful societies. And the benefits of girls’ education extend to their own children who are often healthier and more educated because their mothers went to school” (Brandt, 2015). Numbers strongly support this statement, confirming that each additional year of education boosts an individual’s income by 10%, affecting the country’s GDP by 18% increase. According to Yoka, some researches show that with each child learning to read, we can diminish poverty among 170 million people (Brandt, 2015).
- Educating others is one of the most challenging yet rewarding jobs
Being an educator is not something that comes easily or can be simply taught. It is hard work, requiring tons of knowledge, patience, time and a very individual approach. Humans are not machines that can be programmed and predicted. Being a teacher requires finding multiple ways to reach out to your audience-learners. This depends also on multiple factors including audience age, needs, and the message itself. The fact that as a teacher you have a tremendous influence on how especially young children are shaped, carries lots of responsibility. Fragile individuals can be easier discouraged than encouraged to learn. Yet, despite all the challenges and difficulties (like underpaid jobs, teaching staff shortages, stressful nature of work), many educators confirm that job they do is the most rewarding job on the entire planet. There is nothing more beautiful than observing how individuals grow, get smarter, learn things older generations don’t know and encourage further development.
As said by Robert Frost ‘I am not a teacher, but an awakener’
- Power of an educator
I tend to think that educators have some sort of superpowers. Regardless of the learner’s age, a school teacher, a sports trainer, a tutor, a college lecturer, or a counsellor is to some extent a role model, a person we admire, a person we follow and would like to become. And that is a lot of responsibility and pressure to put on one person only. It is truly amazing that in situations when as a parent or a family member, or even the system itself you cannot achieve more, it is educators who can actually get through the problem, address issues and simply through actions taken counsel, guide and be a role model, encouraging change. Lord Andrew Adonis, a former UK Schools Minister, an author and expert on education policy summarized it best during the Global Teacher Prize in 2013 “No education system can be better than its teachers” (Bellamy, 2018).
- Limitless job opportunities
With a teaching staff shortage on a nation- and worldwide scale, having completed education studies finding a job should not be too big of a challenge in comparison to other sectors. However, choosing your path can be difficult. Naturally, with a diploma in their pocket, a lot of individuals start their careers with the tremendous motivation of changing the world into a better place, not being fully prepared for emerging challenges. On the positive end, a degree in education offers a lot of job opportunities outside the typical classroom environment. As stated at the beginning of this article educators are needed in all sectors including businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, communities, policy centres, the cultural sector, adult education centres and even hospitals.
This means that the initially chosen career path can be easily switched into something else, even across industries. Considering that educators are usually quite good learners themselves, changing career paths works mostly as a motivating factor rather than a challenge.
- Shifting traditional teaching methods
New technology advancements and various programme delivery methods (online and hybrid next to traditional face-to-face), influence contemporary curriculum. As a result, educators need to grow together with technological progress and modern teaching tools. As much as some can take it as a challenge, in fact, available methods are bringing more diversity to the class and allowing the introduction of new ways of learning - far more attractive, especially to the younger generation of learners. A traditional method, based on pen and paper, is considered less attractive and less involving to contemporary learners, who prefer to learn more actively through watching videos, listening to podcasts or audiobooks or even learning through gaming. Also, older learners appreciate adjustments and are in favour of a variety of learning methods providing them more flexibility and allowing them to fit learning into their daily schedule.
Introducing new technologies in the class environment offers more opportunities for learners to choose from and pick one that actually works best for them. From the teachers’ perspective, it is also a way for them to learn something new and be more responsive to the new technological advancements especially in times of such technological progress we all witness.
As said by Benjamin Franklin “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. Education is, has always been and will ever be the strongest medium of understanding and self-growth. Choosing education as your study domain allows not only learning about the subject, and gaining skills but discovering the inner self and understanding deep-rooted goals and motivations behind making such a choice. Education is a very powerful tool, yet not fully appreciated and definitely requires some good marketing and lots of effort to make it available to everyone, rather than being a privilege to some.
Bellamy, S. (2018) Believe It or Not, Teachers Have One of the Most Rewarding Jobs in the World. Here’s Why. Thrive, April, 2018. https://thriveglobal.com/stories/w-8-believe-it-or-not-teachers-have-one-of-the-most-rewarding-jobs-in-the-world-here-s-why/, accessed: 31 May, 2022
Brandt, Y. (2015) Education: the most powerful investment in our future. Unicef Org. https://blogs.unicef.org/blog/education-the-most-powerful-investment-in-our-future/, accessed: 31 May, 2022
Dolton, P., Marcenaro-Gutierrez, O. (2013) Varkey GEMS Foundation Global Teacher Staus Index, https://www.globalteacherprize.org/media/2787/2013globalteacherstatusindex.pdf, accessed: 31 May, 2022
Tiongson, R. (2020 ) The importance of investing in knowledge, Inquirer.com https://business.inquirer.net/291261/the-importance-of-investing-in-knowledge, accessed: 31 May, 2022