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College Matt-ers: Colleges of education need to challenge status quo, students

On its website, the Patton College of Education claims it tries to foster its graduates to be “change agents” in the field the education, but opportunities are few and far between to change the college itself.

As an education major myself, one of the most depressing aspects of being a member of the college is the constant reminder that once I become a teacher, my life will be dominated by the standardized testing and bureaucratic red tape of K-12 education. Ironically, the Patton College seems to be oblivious to the fact that they too are perpetuating a culture of mediocrity in teacher education.

Teacher education programs suffer from a stigma that claims their major is not as difficult as others, and to some extent it is hard for me to argue that point. Colleges of education are notorious for their grade inflation, with education majors posting a significantly higher GPA than our peers in other colleges.

That is not to say student teachers don’t work hard – we do – but more often than not our time seems to be filled with completing busy work and writing reflections rather than teaching or engaging in critical discussion of best pedagogical practices. Education classes can be repetitive and monotonous, serving to disillusion rather than inspire.

Colleges of education are not exactly known for their academic rigor, either. Based on the required courses students have to take, it would be easy to assume that the Patton College expects less of their students. As an Integrated Social Studies Education major, I had to take a total of seven lower-level survey history courses. In contrast, a history major will take a few survey courses, but for the most part they are given the academic freedom to choose what courses they believe will best service them.

It’s no wonder that myself and many of my peers have become disenchanted with the college, causing what would have been some fantastic future educators to drop the major all together. Despite this toxic climate, some of the brightest students at Ohio University will soldier on and complete their education degree, but will leave the institution less idealistic than when they entered.

I don’t entirely blame the Patton College for this dire situation; after all, it’s legislation and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education that has restricted how the college is allowed to train future educators. The state of Ohio has introduced more tedium to teacher preparation programs by requiring all student teachers to complete a portfolio that will be graded by a private company.

However, all of this is no excuse to passively accept these conditions; it should give more incentive to actively fight them. Rather that reinforcing the status quo, the Patton College and its students need to be on the forefront of resisting the systematic deterioration of our profession.

Matt Farmer is a senior studying education and political science. Is there anything that you think needs changed about your college? Email him at mf291209@ohiou.edu

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