I have applied to the five-year masters in physical science education (plus teacher certification) program in Graduate School of Eduction at Rutgers University. I expect to receive a decision sometime next month. Below is the personal statement from my application. Note that it reveals why the quotation above subtitles this blog. While it is not comprehensive, it is part of my continued attempt to clarify for myself what education means to me and what my contribution can be.
One can expect more posts this semester because I will be responding to readings in my Exploring Teaching as a Profession course.
The path to my decision to be a teacher has been a gradually evolving one. Now in awe of the great station of a teacher, I am honored to have the opportunity to learn to be one.
Initially, I had only vague appreciation for the sciences, watching Bill Nye: The Science Guy and looking through both of Lippershey and the Janssens’ (not Galileo’s!) devices [microscope and telescope]. Through my middle school and high school years, this grew into finding thrill in solving problems and knowing the inner workings of physical systems. As I entered college, though, I was on the brink of disillusionment. I continued with math and physics solely because they were fun and were subjects in which I could excel. So after my freshman year, I deferred my education for a year to volunteer in the East Caribbean nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. There I spent time volunteering with the Ministry of Education. The smallest country in the Western Hemisphere was a great location to have both classroom experience at various levels and in various subjects, in addition to intimate involvement with the inner workings of an education system, such as teacher training and curriculum development.
This experience, as challenging as it was enjoyable, helped me to grow as a human being with more complete sentiment, able to focused my thoughts, feelings, and efforts on becoming a secondary school educator. My passion for physics finally had a direction; I could return to college with a new found admiration and love for education systems and the children they serve. In addition to teaching, I hope to someday contribute in a greater capacity towards the extensive efforts of global grassroots curriculum development, especially in rural communities whose people are resources, not problems1. This discovery happened through reflection and consultation – skills that I anticipate implementing in courses over the next two years, and then in a classroom of my own.
I find it appropriate to briefly comment, for your benefit as much as my own, on part of the importance of science education in particular. Learning about physics in an interactive way (referring both to group work and to hands-on activities) has multiple merits. It develops problem solving skills through experimentation. These have both direct and indirect applications in everyday life. Students of effective secondary school science teachers have enough of a basis to continue and understand their car engine or refrigerator enough to repair it themselves. Indirectly, a prepared student can collaborate with co-workers and community members to overcome even the greatest social ills. An extreme example and personal inspiration is Farzam Arbab. His doctorate in physics prepared him to found the Tutorial Learning System – an extensive rural secondary education system in Colombia that transformed communities and has inspired similar programs throughout each continent.
The statement by Bahá’u’lláh “Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom” is a motivator for my conviction that every student is capable of immense growth and contribution to society. I hope to be a physics teacher so that I may help my students find and polish these gems to the degree I am able. What could be more exciting than this?