Next Year or, Why Blog Part II

In my first post (which – hard for me to believe – will only be one month ago this Friday) I talked about some of the reasons I decided to start this blog. There was one big reason that I left out, because I wanted to make sure I was able to tell my students in person first.

I’m going to be taking a break from the classroom next year to get my master’s degree. I got the good news last week that I was accepted into the African-American Studies program at Columbia University in New York City.

Since I will not be in a formal education program, I wanted a way to connect what I’m studying to teaching, and I think this blog will very much help me do that in a semi-formal way. I hope to use this space as much as possible to play with ideas and issues that arise during the year, hopefully getting them into a form that will be useful when I return to the classroom in the Fall of 2006. Also, I look forward to staying connected with community of blogging classroom teachers who have helped me learn so much over the past few weeks.

A lot of people have asked me both why I’m going to grad school now, and then also why I’m doing my masters in African-American studies (full disclosure – I am very much a white boy from Ohio).

The first question is easier to explain. I got engaged this past March, and will be getting married next June. My fiancee lives in Brooklyn, and we’ll be much happier together in New York than we would be in the DC area. Once we decided I would be the one moving (in 3 weeks now), we thought it made sense for me to get my masters before we get married as opposed to trying to teach and do a masters in the first years of our marriage (an MA is required for a full teaching license in New York). So I began searching for a one-year programs in the City.

I was lucky enough as an undergrad to be able to fully participate in an outstanding MAT program which got me certified in Social Studies and History, but gave me no advanced degree. I think, at this point, I will benefit much more from some more work in my content area that in more education courses. I’m also only a handful of courses short of English certification, and would very much like teach at a school that integrates Social Studies and English, so I decided to look for an interdisciplinary program. I didn’t set out to specifically to pursue study in African-American Studies, but when looking at all my options, it seemed to present me the best preparation for teaching in New York City, as well as the largest potential for personal growth. From my application essay:

Columbia’s masters program in African-American Studies seems uniquely positioned to help me achieve this goal. I must admit that I do not have a very strong background in this area. I took two courses in Africana Studies at Brown, as well as Education and History courses that touched on the black experience in America. I hope to achieve two main goals by participating in this program. First, I want to dramatically increase the body of knowledge I will be able to use to develop curriculum that is personally relevant to the lives of my students. Second, I want to further develop my ability to see the world and myself through eyes other than the white, suburban, middle class ones with which I was raised.

I hope this blog will help me as I develop along this path.

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