Throughout the process of pursuing my Ph.D., there are three goals in mind relevant to the nature of international development work. These three goals, I feel, are attainable and with the assistance of my Ph.D. I can receive the knowledge to turn these goals into achievements. The goals are to transform outdated schools and use my degree to give back to the education system either by becoming a teacher or becoming a writer. Making education accessible to children of all backgrounds is important to me as well. Early childhood education, obviously, focuses on the education and development of children from infancy to about the age of eight. These are formative years of every individual’s life. It is when we are children that we become aware of the world around us spatially, physically, emotionally, socially and in cognitive skills; this learning never stops. In early childhood is where we form attachments to our caregivers and we look to adults, caregivers or not, for guidance as we continue to navigate the world in which we live.
Building a network among professionals and childhood education hopefuls is done through getting involved in professional organizations such as the Association for Childhood Education International, HighScope Educational Research Foundation and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. These organizations and many more are all in the world of early childhood education designed to encourage collaboration and enable people to become better educators, stay on top of professional trends and relevant issues, and even work to change some of the negatives that permeate the era of early childhood education. Using the strategies of networking with those in early childhood education will allow me to understand different perspectives of past, present and future educators. Even if we have different goals and teaching methods individually, we are all working towards a common goal. To have a support system, be it in a local, statewide or nationwide organization, it is always comforting to know that a large network of people and I share a common goal: working on the behalf of young children. Children are the ones that look up to us as their educators and as authority figures to be another guiding light in their lives as they mature into the adults we have already become. Education is one of many ways that ignites social, cultural, political and economic change. We rely on people who hold such positions of power in our realm to have been properly educated. That path to the top of any career is heavily reliant on education; it begins with us as educators to create the environment that allows people to thrive starting from the formative years as children.
Building another community of colleagues can be done through networking in organizations, but also on social networking. Blogs for preschools, elementary/middle/high schools, and education professionals are just one of the ways that technology is changing education by allowing for a more casual and interpersonal way for educators to connect outside of a professional capacity. Developing this kind of camaraderie, again, incites creativity and motivation in any individual educator. This aligns with my career goals of writing within the area of early childhood education. While not in a professional sense, this supports professional collaboration by contributing to and learning from the free flow of ideas and the nuances and little things that make educators tick. This presents a look into the world of early childhood education that does not get talked about in textbooks or organization chapter meetings.
There is much criticism of the state of the education system today: The Huffington Post calls it outdated, USA Today says that it is failing our children and Forbes calls it obsolete. The American school system today is berated for emphasizing the memorization of facts and pumping knowledge instead of tailoring learning to children’s individual needs, not realizing that all learn in different ways. Children are expected to regurgitate information back out onto paper for the sake of placing highly on a grading scale. In a Forbes article by Erica Swallow, children are intrinsically motivated; grading scales and report cards are irrelevant. The focus for educators should be on shifting from the outdated system of pumping and dumping knowledge to paper to one that enables them to find their passions.
In early childhood education, an educator is responsible for create a safe environment for the child or children, even away from home. Doing this successfully comes with having knowledge of proper child development theories and, according to the prerogative of the educator, choosing the appropriate or preferred child development theory as the basis of work. Doing certain work in early childhood education that bridges the educational achievement gap will allow me to fulfill my goals by helping individual children and families learn the ways in which the child learns, processes and utilizes information. Bridging the educational achievement gap begins with education and societal reform dedicated to “lifting less advantaged children” (Tavernise, 2012) out of the parameters of their environment that are not set up for their success. The gap has stretched along the course of a child’s life, from early education to postsecondary education. Bridging the gap begins with the starting at the period of crucial social and educational development for the child.
- Gus the Truck: A Metaphor for an Outdated Education System. (n.d.). Retrieved August 13, 2016, from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rick_hess_straight_up/2014/05/gus_the_truck_a_metaphor_for_an_outdated_education_system.html
- Powell, A. (n.d.). We need an education system that excites children. Retrieved August 13, 2016, from http://www.teachingtimes.com/articles/revolution-education-system.htm
- Swallow, E. (n.d.). Creating Innovators: Why America’s Education System Is Obsolete. Retrieved August 13, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericaswallow/2012/04/25/creating-innovators/#709fdf773d7a
- Tavernise, S. (2012). Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say. Retrieved August 13, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/education/education-gap-grows-between-rich-and-poor-studies-show.html?_r=0