This week’s post is inspired by “This I Believe.” This I believe is a project “engaging people in…discussing the core values and beliefs” of their lives. This project helps explain my core beliefs about sociology and education. I entered the field of sociology because I wanted to teach, but I did not start with a sociology major. In high school I realized that I wanted to motivate people to do great things. Through this I discovered that I wanted to teach, specifically high school math. The first two and half years at the University of Southern California were spent studying math. After completing all the concrete math courses, like calculus and linear algebra, the classes that were left were abstract theoretical courses. These classes were not enjoyable to me, so I decided to switch majors. The switch from math to sociology occurred because of my desire to teach, and sociology provides an excellent understanding of people and situations. Through the courses this semester, sociology of childhood, deviance, and theories, I am learning how children think and react in situations. This will provide me with tools to better educate students.
Through observations in elementary and high schools, I have seen the effect of a sociological background. My mentor, Dr. Barbara Gereboff was a sociology major in college and then continued to get her graduate degree in education. She is now a principal of an elementary/middle school. I have seen her work with students and she has a better understanding of social situations and is better equipped to deal with different types of students and families. Compared to the other principals that I have had, she has far surpassed them on the level of understanding her students. If more teachers had this background then classes would run more smoothly and the needs of more students would be met.
To be a good teacher one must first have a mastery of the material one wishes teach. I want to teach math and I have taken all concrete math classes available, I feel that that this is enough knowledge of math to teach all levels of high school. Second, a teacher must be able to control the classroom and all the situations that will arise. This does not come easily for some people, this is why sociology is helpful; one can predict certain situations and fix them quicker and more easily than others, providing more time for actual studies. Classes like childhood sociology are especially helpful. This course teaches how children and childhood are conceptualized and perceived from an adult perspective. Knowing this I will be able to take more of children’s actions into account.
Two important sociologists that have influenced my beliefs are Barrie Thorne and Valerie Ann Moore. In Barrie Thorne’s “Girls Boys Together…But Mostly Apart: Gender Arrangements in Elementary Schools,” Thorne explains through her observations in her ethnography how she saw children created their own ideas about gender. In Valerie Ann Moore’s “The Collaborative Emergence of Race in Children’s Play: A Case of Two Summer Camps” she explores how children construct race at summer camp.
Knowing and understanding these situations help prepare teachers for situations in the classroom. It help prepares them to understand children’s backgrounds and why they act the way they do. Sociology provides tools to overcome many obstacles brought by students in school. The amount of research and information on these subjects reinforce my core belief that sociology and education go hand in hand. I do not feel that educators today are fully prepared for the situations they will encounter. But those will a sociological background will have a much easier time fixing the problems. I know that these skills that I will acquire from my sociology major will benefit me in the future.