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Further Discussions on Higher Education

Sarah got me thinking about different kinds of graduate level programs after she commented on my last post. I also posted a tweet when I found out the program I had been eyeing has been closed. Our dialog (and some other tweets that have gone back and forth since then, has prompted me to want to do more research to see what's actually out there.

I have come to a couple conclusions:

  • I do not entirely know what I want to study
  • I am afraid of making the wrong decision and finding out in 15 years that I am not marketable for what I actually want to do
  • There might not be a program out there that fits my ideal
The options I am looking at (so far) are either a M.A. in Deaf Education (with a focus in secondary math education), or a M.A/S in Mathematics Education (as long as there is a program that doesn't require me to a. have a BS in Math or b. student teach in order to get math certification...I already teach math...kthx).

Pros for the Deaf Education program would be that I would be learning more specific methods that would help me teach my students right now. Classes would be offered in ASL, thus further expanding my vocabulary and experience learning in the language I teach through. I would be with other deaf educators, or prospective deaf educators, having people to bounce ideas off.

Cons for Deaf Education include pidgeon-holing myself into only being marketable to residential schools for the deaf. I love residential schools, and I do see myself teaching at one for a long time (if not my entire career). I am concerned, though, about the future of such schools. State funding, standardized testing, and IDEA are causing more deaf students to be mainstreamed into public schools. Residential schools are decreasing in numbers, and some schools are becoming more specialized in serving students with disabilities. A specialized master's degree with a focus in Deaf Education might cost me a job teaching in a public school some day if that ever needed to be the case.

Pros for general math/math ed include expanding my math knowledge and knowledge of general math teaching strategies (that may be useful in hearing and deaf classrooms). It would also almost certainly ensure my Highly Qualified status should I ever decide/need to teach hearing students in a public school (middle or high school math).

Cons for general math/math ed are that the people in the program will most likely have no clue what kind of students I work with every day. There won't be the shared experience or language. It would require more investigating on my part to discover and decide how to apply the general theories and strategies to my specific context.

So that's the basic idea of what's been tossing around in my head the past week. I know that there are many factors to consider and most likely no "wrong" path, but I want to make an intelligent, informed decision before I go dedicate a lot of time and money to a master's degree.


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