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Better Ed or Math Dept for teaching?


Replies to: Better Ed or Math Dept for teaching?

  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 12,277 Senior Member
    And while there are ways to obtain alternative certification (I have maintained teaching credentials despite never having actually taught), my recommendation to someone wanting to teach secondary math would be to get the bachelor's degree in math and then a master's in education (or even a doctorate).

    One thing to also keep in mind is that some states require all teachers to have a Masters in Education after a certain point so some folks like several college classmates ended up entering the teaching profession by going for an M.Ed...especially at topflight Ed schools like Teacher's College or Harvard GSE.

    Others, especially in areas with math/STEM teacher shortages have special programs(Boston and NYC are some) to fast-track those who have worked in STEM fields(i.e. engineers, quant-heavy areas of finance, etc) to become math/STEM teachers. No prior Ed school experience required.
  • ILMom13579ILMom13579 Registered User Posts: 293 Junior Member
    Thanks @cobrat - at the moment we are looking at BA/BS programs only with the intention of getting a M.Ed a short while down the road.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 61,522 Senior Member
    She may want to explore which related subjects (e.g. computer science, statistics, economics, physics) where it may be possible to complete enough subject matter course work to allow her to teach those courses as well as math, in order to increase her versatility in teaching jobs.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 12,277 Senior Member
    She may want to explore which related subjects (e.g. computer science, statistics, economics, physics) where it may be possible to complete enough subject matter course work to allow her to teach those courses as well as math, in order to increase her versatility in teaching jobs.

    In many cases, she may be able to get some statistics in within her math department considering statistics is an off-shoot of the math department and at some colleges, offered through it (no separate statistics department).

  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,115 Senior Member
    The difference in state requirements may be an easily met course in state related subject matter. Plus, keeping one's license and getting the masters is usually easily done via summers et al- programs know teachers are working the school year. Being good at higher level math makes it easier to teach the top HS students, and a bonus for someone who enjoys it.
  • MassmommMassmomm Registered User Posts: 2,642 Senior Member
    The best teachers my kids had in middle and high school were the ones who majored in the subjects they taught. This was actually required in our state.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 62,564 Senior Member

    You absolutely need to check the "reciprocity" from state to state. You make it sound easy peasy....and it's not. I know folks who have had to retake the praxis tests in new states, and sometimes even had to take additional college courses. Sometimes...not all the time...but sometimes...they were given provisional or temporary certification.

    If a state requires degrees in math to become certified in math...and your daughter doesn't have this...she will have even more hoops jump through.

    She needs a good math program AND a good education program.
  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing Registered User Posts: 680 Member
    I am a public school administrator, albeit one that specializes in elementary, not secondary, schools. I hire elementary school teachers every year.

    I recommend a liberal arts major-- in your case, math. Depending on your state's requirements, this may or may not be necessary for employment-- but how do you want to spend your undergraduate years-- bored or engaged? I think most education courses are mostly nonsense and do nothing to help you learn how to teach. Trust me, I have taken a lot of them, and not one graduate education class was as interesting as my least interesting class in the liberal arts as an undergrad. I can honestly say I can't think of more than a handful of things I learned in education school that actually helped me in the classroom as a teacher or as administrator. I have been in my career since 1993. Student teaching and internships, however, provide valuable practice, experience, and mentoring.

    Here is what you need: you need to make sure you will have access to a good student teaching program. The more supportive the supervision, the better-- none of those 'we'll chat with you online to supervise you' programs, which are really terrible. Ideally you will have a community in which you can reflect on on your experiences in student teaching and learn from and with one another.

    And you need to find out which education courses are required for certification in the state in which you want to be employed, and take those. Being part of program that includes direct certification, as opposed to having to prove you've met the requirements independently, is easier.

    So, if you want to major in math, make sure that you do one of the following:
    1. Pick a college in which you simultaneously can complete your teaching certification requirements, including student teaching.
    2. Go to graduate school to pick up your master's degree and certification simultaneously. If you teach in certain states, you will be required to get a master's degree eventually anyway. If you can afford it-- and that is a big IF for a lot of people, who need to be employed sooner-- it is easier to do your master's work before you are busy teaching during the day, writing lesson plans and grading at night, coaching or leading a club, and involved in evening committees at your place of employment.

    Good luck!
  • MADadMADad Registered User Posts: 1,921 Senior Member
    To piggy back on @zoosermom's comments, MA also requires an academic major for teaching licenses. The degree in "elementary ed" or "secondary ed" won't cut it. The ed programs becomes like a minor, or some earn their credentials in a post-baccalaureate program.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 12,277 Senior Member
    edited September 7
    I think most education courses are mostly nonsense and do nothing to help you learn how to teach. Trust me, I have taken a lot of them, and not one graduate education class was as interesting as my least interesting class in the liberal arts as an undergrad.


    What you wrote above is almost exactly how most of my K-12 teacher friends described their undergrad/grad Ed school classes. They all viewed it as a mandatory ticket that had to be punched and found nearly all of what they learned in those classes....especially educational/pedagogical theory to be impractical at best once they started student-teaching and moreso...once they became full-time teachers.

    And the more years of teaching experience they've had, the more they felt it confirmed their assessment about the classes*. The one exception to that was the student-teaching and mentoring from veteran teachers who knew the realities of the ground and gave them valuable tips on what to retain from their ed school classes and what to discard/take with substantial tankers of salt.

    * One is currently in her 12th year of teaching and on track to being the next chairperson of her HS's math department once the incumbent chair retires.
  • ILMom13579ILMom13579 Registered User Posts: 293 Junior Member
    Thank you all once again for the amazing and informative posts regarding this subject. I will be sure to express all the ideas and suggestions to D. We are just starting college tours so this information is fantastic to have as we see prospective schools and departments.

    @thumper1 - I know it won't be easy going from state to state for new teaching licensure/creds, I apologize if I made it sound like that. My brother and cousin and both teachers/admins so I am having them weigh in on all aspects of this journey, including jumping state to state.

    She will definitely major in Math, that much is certain. We will just make sure that the education department at the school of her choosing has plenty of outside the classroom experience as well.

    Thanks again for everyone weighing in!
  • KansasinCAKansasinCA Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    Lots of really bad teachers out there teaching math without knowing the math themselves. The ED school requirements for math majors are laughable. I think one (if that) semester of calculus is all that is required. If math is her passion, then she should major in it; leave all the theoretical teaching, pedagogic nonsense and unproven theories to the ED schools.

    There is a reason why Mathematics majors and Mathematics professors are frustrated at the decline of math competence in the US: ED schools.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 30,443 Senior Member
    I would disagree about the "nonsense" (which I've seen on other threads too).
    Developmental psychology, History of Education, and History of your subject are all essential context (in the same way premed pre-reqs include Physics, English, Psychology). Subject methodology is CRUCIAL to teaching efficiently. Student teaching with observation and group discussion also.

    BTW just because some states have laughable requirements doesn't mean all do; one way to change that is to organize a state-wide group including not just parents but also teachers, school administrators and professors in the subject to increase the subject content requirements.

    For example, these are the requirements in Minnesota:
    MATH 1271/1371/1571H Calculus I
    MATH 1272/1372/1572H Calculus II
    MATH 2243/2373/2574H Linear algebra and differential equations
    MATH 2263/2374/2573H Multivariable calculus and vector analysis
    MATH 2283/3283W Sequences, series and foundations
    + 2 from the following:
    Theoretical Algebra

    MATH 4281 Introduction to Modern Algebra
    MATH 5248 Cryptology and Number Theory
    MATH 5251 Error-correcting Codes, Finite Fields, Algebraic Curves
    MATH 5285H Honors: Fundamental Structures of Algebra I
    MATH 5286H Honors: Fundamental Structures of Algebra II
    MATH 5385 Introduction to Computational Algebraic Geometry
    Applied Algebra

    MATH 4242 Applied Linear Algebra
    MATH 5705 Enumerative Combinatorics
    MATH 5707 Graph Theory and Non-enumerative Combinatorics
    MATH 5711 Linear Programming and Combinatorial Optimization
    MATH 5485 Introduction to Numerical Methods I

    + 2 from this list
    Analysis List

    MATH 4567 Fourier Analysis
    MATH 4603 Advanced Calculus I
    MATH 4604 Advanced Calculus II
    MATH 5486 Introduction to Numerical Methods II
    MATH 5525 Introduction to Ordinary Differential Equations
    MATH 5535 Dynamical Systems and Chaos
    MATH 5583 Complex Analysis
    MATH 5587 Elementary Partial Differential Equations I
    MATH 5588 Elementary Partial Differential Equations II
    MATH 5615 Honors: Introduction to Analysis I
    MATH 5616 Honors: Introduction to Analysis II
    MATH 5651 Basic Theory of Probability and Statistics
    STAT 5101 (equivalent to MATH 5651)
    MATH 5652 Stochastic Processes
    MATH 5654 Prediction and Filtering
    + Combinatorics + Probability + Geometry I.

    In New York State
    Single-variable Calculus; Multivariable Calculus, Linear Algebra, and Differential Equations; computer literacy; Advanced linear algebra

    • MAT 200 Language, Logic, and Proof;
    • MAT 312 Applied Algebra OR MAT 313 Abstract Algebra
    • MAT 319 Foundations of Analysis OR MAT 320 Introduction to Analysis
    • MAT 336 History of Mathematics
    • MAT 360 Geometric Structures
    • AMS 310 Probability and Statistics.

    C. Professional educational requirements:

    1. MAE 301 Foundations of Secondary School Mathematics
    2. MAE 302 Methods and Materials for Teaching Secondary School Mathematics
    3. MAE 311 Introduction to Methods of Teaching Secondary School Mathematics
    4. MAE 312 Micro-Teaching
    5. MAE 447 Directed Readings in Mathematics Education
    6. PSY 327 Human Growth and Development in the Educational Context
    7. SSE 350 Foundations of Education
    8. CEF 347 Introduction to Special Education
    9. LIN 344 Language Acquisition and Literacy Development
    10. MAE 451 Supervised Teaching - Grades 7-9
    11. MAE 452 Supervised Teaching--Grades 10-12
    12. MAE 454 Student Teaching Seminar
  • ILMom13579ILMom13579 Registered User Posts: 293 Junior Member
    Several of the schools we have visited so far require student major in both Math and Ed but I'm really concentrating on what Math classes she would take so there is a good base of math content learned. This is where the quarter and trimester system schools may come in handy since it allows students to fit more classes in....yes at a faster pace but if the student can handle it, shouldn't be too much of a concern.
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,115 Senior Member
    Quarter system classes will not cover the same material in less time. They do allow students to have a more varied with less of a subject. Your D can do both majors. Many math departments will work for her because she isn't heading to a math PhD. She needs to look closely at what is offered in the teacher education path. A friend's son went to Emory, originally a Psych major, switched to education. But- no student teaching and unqualified to teach. She may do best in a setting with many other math majors that are heading in many different directions with the major. Part of her decision will be to choose a stellar math program school to be exposed to areas of math she may find interesting even if she never uses that specific knowledge in a classroom. Perhaps being among a bunch of highly intelligent math nerds will help her understand her students who one day go the math route and their thinking processes. I know my good math teacher had students much better than he was in math and was able to understand their reasoning. Like every occupation, math teaching will have its boring routine with most students punctuated by the few with interest and insights.
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