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Some students planning to take advantage of the College’s new “Education Studies” secondary said they are looking forward to the potential for increased structure to their education coursework and new connections between undergraduates interested in education.
The new secondary—announced earlier this month— is designed as an interdisciplinary approach to education, with classes focusing on education policy, the sociological and economic impacts of education, as well as pedagogy, the academic method and practice of teaching.
“Before now, the College’s system did not allow students to have formal advising, mentorship, or, really, guidance on what education looks like,” UC President Catherine L. Zhang ’19 said. “The education secondary fills in this gap for students to study what education means in a very theoretical, more interdisciplinary lens.”
Winthrop House Representative Sruthi Palaniappan ’20, who chaired the Undergraduate Council Education Committee, said that the secondary is important both in the context of the university’s offerings, and for its legitimizing effect on education as a field.
“Having Harvard approve the secondary does affirm their commitment to supporting education. This institutional background is going to be really important in terms of perceptions and also its effects on campus,” Palaniappan, who plans to declare the secondary, said.
Leverett House Representative Ben I. Sorkin ’20, who was vice chair of the UC’s Education Committee, said the secondary is “super important” because it will provide a “unified” advising structure. Sorkin said while Harvard already has a few courses in education, those classes are unevenly spread out across the university.
Sorkin said once he declares the secondary, he can “connect with people [he’s] seen repeatedly in classes” on education.
Until now, Sorkin said, the only advising available for College students interested in education coursework was through office hours hosted once a semester by Katherine K. Merseth, a senior lecturer in education. With the new secondary, professors across the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Education will be on hand to advise students both on coursework and on their senior theses.
Tatiana Patino ’20, who said she has always known she wants to be a high school teacher, said the secondary will make it easier to teach while still in college, and have a more “tangible impact” when doing so.
“I work for an after-school program, and I think a lot about how education impacts my children,” Patino said. “I’ve been having those conversations either unguided or with guidance through PBHA, which is amazing. But I think it’ll be really cool to have those conversations with more academic backing through the college.”
Palaniappan said that multiple alumni of the College contacted her after the secondary was announced.
“Some of them have already reached out and said, ‘I wish this structure was there when I was in college,” she said.
—Staff writer Cecilia R. D’Arms can be reached at cecilia.d’firstname.lastname@example.org.
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