At Elon University, we are given the option to take a winter term class that is included in our tuition. Our break begins as soon as we finish our last final, and ends, if we take j-term, in early January.
For this j-term, I took a class called Education and Society that fundamentally changed how I see teaching and education. I spend 15-20 hours a week as a student teacher in a classroom near Elon, and although I have experience working with younger, elementary children before, I did not understand the full extent of what being a teacher means until I was forced to spend three hours a day for over three weeks talking about education and society.
I have listened to innumerable podcasts and read countless articles about exactly what it means to be a teacher in today's society. However, it is impossible to understand how we got to where we are today without looking at the history of education in the United States.
Almost everyone learned about the Brown V. Board of Education decision in middle school and high school, yet it wasn't until I took this class that I realized the decision isn't as pivotal in education and society as it is made out to be. The specific language used in the decision is very racially charged, and integration was not mandated following the decision. More problems came to light surrounding white parents and the possibility of education resources for black children. Although children are an important foundation for education, the teachers are the foundation without which education cannot exist. No one thought to discuss the impact of Brown. V Board of Education on the teachers, and the impact that the decision still has today.
My classroom is part of an A+ school, which means they integrate art into almost all aspects of the day. My kids are amazing, and I can see the passion for learning in their eyes when we are teaching. But many children have parents who are low-income, and many simply do not continue to prioritize education when their child gets home. I know how I felt about education while I was growing up, but to see education from a teacher's perspective completely changes my view on what education means. Many of the children in my class face obstacles that I cannot fathom, and through my class, I have been absolutely heartbroken about what some children in the United States face outside of school.