Required classes for a secondary education major typically blend a unique combination of educational theory classes with subjects that focus on a specific content area. Most secondary education students are considered to be an education major with a strong concentration, generally in mathematics, science, english, a foreign language, or history. Some schools also offer secondary content concentrations in business, computer and technology education, and special education. Before choosing a secondary education program, consider how this program is structured and whether or not it will lead to the right kind of teaching position after graduation.
The Education Major: A Significant Component of the Program
First and foremost, students in this program are considered education majors. The goal of an education major is to make sure that students can become excellent teachers, largely by mastering classroom management, lesson pacing and lesson planning, administrative interaction, state standards adherence, and other key concepts. To that end, the majority of credits required in the program do involve education courses. Classes in educational methods, curriculum and instruction, state and federal education policy, a history of education, the nature of teachers’ unions and organized labor, and courses in child psychology will all be required by most schools.
These classes are valuable across disciplines and grade levels, and comprise the most significant theoretical and practical component of teaching concepts. For secondary education students, however, they represent only one part of a more comprehensive program that seeks to help students master a specific content area as well. Considered a “significant” concentration or minor, content area classes are a major focus of secondary-level programs.
Content Expertise: A Critical Area for the Secondary Educator
While education classes are crucial when it comes to mastering classroom management and effectively working with students, parents, and administrators, they represent only one aspect of secondary education. The other aspect is mastering a content area and learning how to customize it to various grade levels, typically from seventh grade through a student’s senior year of high school. Students will usually take between 18 and 24 credits in a given content area, like english or mathematics. They’ll start with basic classes and move into an advanced study of the content. Mathematics students will learn everything from algebra to discrete mathematics and advanced calculus; foreign language students will demonstrate full proficiency in their language of choice; english students will master literature and composition prior to graduation.
Each content area requires a different list of courses, but they are all equally extensive and intensive. Students will need to prove mastery of their content area on PRAXIS-II examinations, which are the licensure exams that all aspiring teachers must pass in order to take the lead in a classroom environment. These tests will strictly measure content knowledge in a selected area, and must be taken at the conclusion of a secondary education program. Most students take them during the fall semester of their last year on campus.
An Intense Program for Aspiring Educators
Secondary education requires mastery of both specific content knowledge and the nuances of education in today’s world. Students should expect to take nearly as many classes in educational theory as they will in a specific content area, and they should be ready to demonstrate their expertise in student teaching experiences and official licensure examinations. The classes for a secondary education major should be well rounded enough to make proficiency in these areas pretty easy, however.