I am going to begin this reflection by pointing out some flaws and complaints I see with the requirements I must meet to be a history major with secondary certification to teach in social studies. I feel that the requirements could be changed to better prepare a teacher to teach their students. My first complaint is the requirement that for a history major is that you are required to take a foreign language through the 103 level, which for many students, including myself, translates into three years of Spanish. I feel that these credits are unnecessary and would be better used as three more history courses. I feel that the credits would be used better if they were history credits because only twelve history courses are required for the major and 21 must come outside the major. I do not feel that this adequately prepares someone to teach the variety of courses that a certification in social studies allows them to teach. With this certification, a teacher is certified to teach American history, World history, European history, Government, Sociology, or a number of other courses. Even though I will be certified to teach all of these courses I would not feel comfortable teaching all of these courses. I want to teach American history, so naturally I am taking a lot of American history courses to be better prepared to teach this. Within meeting all requirements for my history courses, I am only going to be able to take one world history course, which only covers half the time period covered in world history. This would make me inadequately prepared to teach world history in high school and it is a possibility that I might have to teach this. In getting a teaching job, I might have to take a position teaching world history, or some other social science course before an opening allows me to teach American history. I feel that I would be cheating my students out of a good education if I was not familiar with the course material I was teaching and I do not feel that is right for me to be teaching my students something if I am not knowledgeable about it.
I took psychology and sociology in high school and both classes were taught by teachers who majored in other subjects, but still had their certification to teach these classes. I was really interested in learning about both these subjects, especially sociology, but because my teachers were not really qualified to teach these classes, our class time consisted of watching Hollywood movies that were supposed to relate with sociology and psychology. It was hard for me to respect these teachers when they are not knowledgeable about what they are teaching, especially when there were students in the class that knew more about the subject that the teacher was teaching. A student should not know more about a subject than a teacher who is teaching the subject to the student.
I understand that Berea is a liberal arts school and the goal is to give students a “breadth” of knowledge, rather than “depth” of knowledge. If Berea required that 1/2 of the classes come from your major to graduate instead of 1/3, a student could still have a breadth of knowledge by taking other classes outside their major. In my case I could also have a breadth of knowledge in history as well if I was allowed to take more classes in history. I could be more educated in American history, world history, European history, Asian history, and many other kinds of history. In a sense I would still have a liberal education because I would not be limiting myself to only taking certain history courses and I would have more freedom to take courses outside of my preferred area of concentration, which is American history. I do not understand how you can “major” in something even though only 1/3 of your classes can be in that area, instead of the majority of your classes coming from that area. My main point is that I feel that to be adequately prepared to teach history in high school, it is necessary that a student be allowed to take more history courses. If half of my courses could come from my major I feel that I would be more adequately prepared to teach at the high school level because I would be able to take more history courses to get a greater depth of history knowledge.
I would also like to commend you on your “balls and ramps” activity that we did. With a lot of the activities we do in class, my initial thought is “Why are we doing this? How does this relate to teaching at all?”. You always find a way to relate it back to what you are trying to teach us and I believe your approach to teaching works well because it always holds a student’s interest and makes them want to learn. This is something that seems to be one of the bigger challenges of being a teacher, being able to hold a student’s interest by teaching them in unconventional ways. This is something I hope to be able to do as a teacher, although it seems like it could become rather difficult at times. The most important things I take away from these exercises is that you must be able to relate to your students if you are going to teach them. If you can not relate to your students, it will be very difficult to teach them.