Driving Society Forward.
Why Study Education Studies?
Louise Jemmett, A first year student, Education Studies, University of Northampton,
2nd November 2009
To answer this question I will first consider what Education Studies is through providing a brief discussion into its history and what it is comprised of. After this I will examine the beneficial effects of the subject on the individual in terms of intellectual gains and employment.
Education Studies stem from when teacher training courses, such as the Bachelor of Education, began to have its more theoretical and academic aspects removed under the claims that it created a detachment from the practical elements of teaching. However, with not everyone being satisfied with this outcome, as well as increasing numbers expressing an interest in studying education as a subject itself without becoming a teacher, Education Studies was formed (Ward 2008).
Described as being “concerned with understanding how people develop and learn throughout their lives” (QAA 2007: p.1) Education Studies draws on various disciplines including psychology, sociology, philosophy and the history of education, enabling the student to understand not only how a person learns but also how that learning is affected and facilitated by their surroundings. Therefore, Education Studies introduces students to a variety of issues such as policy, comparative education and economics (QAA 2007; Bartlett and Burton 2007).
Being introduced to a wide range of topics allows the student to make comparisons between what they are learning now, and what they experienced in their education. This can create a self-awareness of how they learn, and help the student to develop reflective skills. Reflective skills are very important for self-improvement as they allow you to recognise where you may have made a mistake, or what you have done well; in my experience, this skill is essential in working-life, especially with children as it improves your performance, which in turn improves the learning experience for the children.
Other transferable skills can be developed throughout the course, not necessarily by the information given, but by how it’s presented and assessed; for example, during the course students would be expected to work in team projects which teaches them how to work with others by utilising their strengths and weaknesses so that they can work efficiently and well; this would be expected of them in work-life.
These skills, arguably, could also be gained from other courses, including ones focussed on teacher training. However, unlike teacher training degrees which would be preparing students for more specific work, Education Studies recognises that learning is life-long. As such, the student studying it is not limited specifically to occupations in schools but may work in various areas including social work, human resources and even in prisons (UCAS 2006). This can be illustrated by the Higher Education Statistics Agency who found that the highest industries that education graduates went into, after education itself, were ‘Health & social work’ and ‘Public administration & defence/social security’ (HESA 2009a).
In addition, the flexibility of Education Studies enables it to be combined with other subjects, such as history, quite well. With 50.6% of graduates stating that their degree in education was a ‘Formal requirement’ for their employment (HESA 2009b: p.25) this can provide a good route into teaching, possibly with a specialism, which, as implied by HESA, is a popular career for students studying education.
Education can be seen as a good occupation to enter into; with birth rates increasing in recent years (Bowcott 2009) there will constantly be a need for educators. This is reflected in longitudinal statistics regarding the employment numbers of graduates which found that 91.8% were in graduate occupations at the start of the study, increasing to 93.3% after 3.5 years (HESA 2009b: p.19). This would, therefore, suggest that not only is employment high for those that enter education but it is also stable, creating a sense of security employment-wise. Lastly, an important thing to consider is the potential salary gained from the employment. The starting salary in education for 2007 was recorded as being £19, 359 compared to a starting salary for non-graduates at £12,624 (Times Online 2007). When combined with other statistics, suggesting that after 3.5 years graduates earning under £20,000 is just over 20% (Norton 2008: p23), this shows that studying education can have financial benefit above what they would have achieved without the degree, and that it increases within a relatively short period of time. This is further strengthened by statistics which note that for males the average lifelong earnings are £151,583 more than a non-graduate, whereas for a female it is £244,740 (Rikowski 2009). This is over the general average and shows that education, especially for a female like myself is certainly a worthwhile career option.
In conclusion, Education Studies provides the individual with skills and knowledge that will be relevant to life after education, helping them to become employed in a stable and financially rewarding career of their interest. It is because of this self-sufficiency and development it creates that I believe the individual should study Education Studies.
Bartlett, S. and Burton, D. (2007) Introduction to Education Studies (Second Edition), London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Bowcott, O. (2009) [online] Birth rate highest since 1973, available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/may/21/birth-rate-increase [Accessed 29/10/09]
HESA (2009a) [online] Table 4b - Industry of full-time UK and Other EU domiciled first degree graduates entering employment in the UK by location of institution and subject area of degree, 2007/08, 2006/07 and 2005/06(1), available from: http://www.hesa.ac.uk/dox/fsr137/fsr137_table_4b.pdf [Accessed 28/10/09]
HESA (2009b) Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Institutions. Longitudinal Survey of the 2004/05 cohort: Key Findings Report Published 2009. Cheltenham: Higher Education Statistics Agency. Available from: http://www.hesa.ac.uk/dox/dlhe_longitudinal/0405/Long_DLHE_0405_WEB.pdf [Accessed 29/10/09]
Norton, T. (2008) Graduate employment and earnings: Are universities meeting student expectations? London: 1994 Group. Available from: http://www.1994group.ac.uk/documents/public/081118_GEEresearchReport.pdf [Accessed 29/10/09]
QAA (2007) Education Studies, Mansfield: The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. Available from: http://www.qaa.ac.uk/academicinfrastructure/benchmark/honours/Education07.pdf [Accessed 28/10/09]
Rikowski, G. (2009) Why Study Education Studies? Introduction to Education Studies, Lecture notes to Lecture 1, Introduction to Education Studies, EDU1011 Lecture, Education Studies, School of Education: University of Northampton.
Times Online (2007) Graduate Pay by Subject, available from: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/good_university_guide/article2253011.ece [Accessed 30/10/09]
UCAS (2006) Education Studies, available from: http://www.ucas.com/seps/profiles/educationstudies [Accessed 28/10/09]
Ward, S. (2008) ‘Introduction: The Study of Education’, in: S. Ward (Ed.) A Student’s Guide to Education Studies (Second Edition). Oxon: Routledge.
© Louise Jemmett, 23rd July 2010
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