I’ve been told multiple times now – in a variety of situations – that I’m currently wasting my degree in secondary education and English from Vanderbilt University. Let me explain why I’m not.
1. I have a job working in my field.
No matter what else you say, this indicates my success in using my degree. Duh.
2. My students need a teacher who has the degree.
Don’t get me started on TFA or other organizations that put people without formal training in education in the classroom. These kids especially need teachers who have years of training in education. An added bonus for them? I have that degree in English, too. That expertise is crucial in my situation.
3. My degree involved a LOT.
I didn’t just learn how to teach writing, use new media in the classroom, classroom management, and teaching grammar/spelling/vocabulary. I also studied adolescent psychology, young adult literature, and took an entire class on the issues affecting education (like school vouchers, No Child Left Behind, and programs like TFA). Furthermore, my English degree involved Chaucer, Shakespeare, American literature, Jewish literature, modern world literature, 6 different writing intensive courses, and more. I am very well versed in my subject area and how to teach it.
4. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.
The first thing a lot of people say when they hear that I’m a 9th grade public high school teacher is, “Oh I couldn’t do that.” Most of those people go on to say that they admire that I can do it or that they’re glad someone can. Some of those people are those who tell me that I’m wasting my time/degree. But why do you say that? Because it’s a hard job? That makes no sense.
The moral of the story? Just because I’m not working at a fancy prep school or a nice school in the suburbs with lots of helicopter parents doesn’t mean that I’m wasting my degree.