Stepping into the world of education

THOMAS MA / AGGIE

A closer look at one of UC Davis’ most influential minors

The UC Davis School of Education was founded in 2002 on the principles of leadership, community and commitment to education. The school offers a wide range of courses and programs for students to explore — among them, the education minor. Education encompasses a diverse and robust curriculum, making it one of UC Davis’ most sought-after minors.

“We are the largest minor on campus,” said Tracy Falk, the student services advisor for the UC Davis School of Education. “We have over 300 active students. We pull from human development, psychology, sociology, English, communications, so it’s really a neat mix of students.”

Falk explained the logistical aspects of the education minor: the curriculum is not limited to courses offered by the School of Education exclusively and can include a broad array of courses from multiple fields of study.

“We have courses offered in education for the electives, [but] we also have some specific courses outside of education that are offered by different majors [that] have an education theme or an educational context.,” Falk said. “We try to give people a variety of topics to choose from.”

Falk emphasized the quality of the staff and faculty members that work in the School of Education. According to Falk, the unyielding passion for education that each faculty member possesses is what really makes the program exceptional.

“One of the most excellent pieces of the school would be our faculty,” Falk said. “They are very committed to teaching. Being here at a UC school, they’re also very committed to research and they have active research and grants and projects, which they share with the Ph.D. students as well as their undergrad. But first and foremost, our faculty are teachers, and what students rave about is how they really enjoyed their classroom experiences and they really enjoyed working with our faculty.”

Jacqueline Rodriguez, a third-year human development major and prospective education minor, says that her hands-on research experience with one of her professors solidified her passion for pursuing education as a career.

“I want to get my teaching credential and further pursue special education,” Rodriguez said. “I took EDU 115 with Nicole Sparapani, [who] specializes in children with autism. I’m actually doing research with her right now. She’s amazing in her work and I really enjoy working with [her].”

Danny C. Martinez, an assistant professor of language, literacy and culture in the School of Education, says that the education minor aims to give students a holistic sense of the inner dynamics of education and how students can expect to apply that knowledge to their everyday lives.

“The education minor is a series of courses that allows students to get a taste of what they may be encountering in different fields within education and some of the issues that are really important for the field of education at the moment,” Martinez said. “We really want students to think about how schooling has many components to it, how complex schooling is and the attempts that people have made […] to make schooling a better experience for folks.”

According to Martinez, the curriculum allows students to analyze education within a sociopolitical lens, incorporating many relevant issues that have molded the education system into what it is today.

“We try to make very clear the inequities that have existed in the schooling system and how some of those inequities were purposeful,” Martinez said. “Schools were designed so that a certain demographic within the United States could maintain their social positions while others continued in positions that weren’t as fortunate.”

Martinez says that having that knowledge of education gives students a more comprehensive perspective of the world, which is why students from so many different fields are attracted to the minor.

“Many of the students in my classes who want to go into education want to become teachers,” Martinez said. “I’m seeing more students who want to do education research. I have many students who are interested in [education] policy. We have students who know that education isn’t where they’re going in their careers, and they simply want to know more about the education process.”

Whether they plan on pursuing a career in education or not, Martinez believes that students who decide to explore the education minor are exposed to invaluable lessons and experiences.

“I think what’s substantial about [the education minor] is that we’re giving students a range of experiences to think about,” Martinez said. “Students who know they want to become educators, students who don’t know, or students who are just taking a GE — they’re leaving with some experience around their education. They understand how education should be a productive, transformative experience.”

 

 

Written by: Emily Nguyen — features@theaggie.org