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Education @ Colby
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Since the College’s founding in the early 19th century, one of Colby’s central aims has been to prepare outstanding teachers and educators for Maine, New England, and the rest of the country. The Education Program builds upon and extends this proud tradition.
The mission of the Education Program is to enable students to develop expertise in conceptual and theoretical foundations, research, and practice in the field of education. The knowledge, skills, dispositions, and habits of mind required for such expertise are cultivated within the context of a rigorous liberal arts academic environment, informed by perspectives from a variety of disciplines, enhanced by multiple opportunities to engage in service learning and civic engagement, and animated by a commitment to social justice in schools and society.
Courses in the Education Program explore the impact of cultural assumptions, societal norms, and institutional policies and practices on both individuals and groups. Students and faculty work together to examine the operation of power as it relates to the construction of knowledge and the preservation of privilege. In so doing, students are encouraged to analyze critically the intended and unintended oppressions resulting from specific educational and institutional practices by (1) considering the values and politics that pervade educational institutions, as well as the more pragmatic issues of teaching and organizing schools; (2) asking critical questions about how taken-for-granted assumptions and conventions about theory and practice came to be, and who in society benefits from such assumptions; (3) attending to differences in gender, race, social class, sexual orientation, and ability that result in political, social, economic, and educational marginalization and inequality, particularly for children and youth; and (4) examining the connections among different forms of privilege, particularly as these relate to and influence the development of children and youth. Students also are encouraged to move beyond critique to create and implement educational and institutional practices that promote greater social justice and equity in schools and society.
The Education Program does not offer a major; instead, it offers three different minors that supplement and enrich a student’s major program of study:
1) The Education minor encourages a wide-ranging liberal arts exploration of educational theories, issues, and practices. This minor provides a flexible option for students who wish to explore teaching, no matter what their major or career goals. These students might be interested in early-childhood teaching, in elementary teaching, in art, music, or other specialized areas of instruction such as bilingual education or special education. Students focus primarily on the psychological, social, philosophical, and historical foundations of education, and gain practical experience working with children and/or adolescents in a variety of classroom contexts. Students who complete this minor leave Colby well prepared to extend their studies in graduate programs. Students have also been able to pursue alternate routes to attaining teaching certificates in other states.
3) The Human Development minor encourages an interdisciplinary approach to understanding human growth and development. Students consider a variety of perspectives on the study of human development, examine the relationship between individuals and the social, cultural, and historical context in which they live, and gain practical experience working in an institution or agency devoted to fostering human development and improving human lives. It provides initial preparation for careers in education, human services, and/or social policy, as well as for graduate study in a number of different fields and disciplines.
4) The Professional Certification minor is approved by the Maine State Board of Education. It enables students to earn secondary certification (grades 7–12) in English language arts, foreign language, mathematics, life science, physical science, or social studies. This certification is valid in Maine, or in one of the 40 other states with which Maine has agreements of reciprocity. This minor requires a major in an appropriate discipline, foundation courses, practical work in the schools, and extensive student teaching experience in the senior year.
A Ninth Semester Program is also available to qualified students. Students in this program return to Colby after graduation to complete their professional certification requirements by taking several courses and working full-time in a local school. Students admitted into the Ninth Semester Program are not charged tuition, but pay a small administrative fee. Students are also responsible for finding their own housing off-campus. Students interested in the program should apply in the spring of the senior year.
Finally, students may also pursue an Independent Major in Human Development. Requirements for this major typically include coursework in education, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. A formal proposal for this major must be submitted to the Independent Study Committee.
Students interested in the Education Program should confer with the program faculty as soon as possible during their first year at Colby. Each of the following faculty members will gladly advise on scheduling and course selection.