Encouraging a Didactic Path for Students

    Over the past 20 years, San Diego has been
    at the forefront of medicinal and scientific advances through its ever-growing
    high-tech and biotech business presence. The boom has produced over 100,000 new
    jobs, a figure that increases every year as more math, science and engineering
    students graduate and go into the industry. However, this flow of students will
    likely lessen if the number of science teachers in the elementary and secondary
    school systems continues to decline.

    According to the California Department of
    Education and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, California
    universities are failing to meet the requirements for incoming teachers.

    In 2005, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger launched
    California Teach, an initiative aimed at increasing the number of teachers
    produced by the UC and CSU systems from 1,000 teachers per year to 2,500 by the
    year 2010. The program allowed for campuses to implement a four-year plan,
    where students could graduate with both a bachelor’s degree and their teaching

    Even so, San Diego County reported that in
    the next five years, the amount of science and math teachers produced in this
    county alone would come up 400 short. Margaret Luo, a Muir College sophomore
    interested in teaching science attributes this decline to California’s
    mistreatment of public school teachers.

    “Society no longer respects the occupation
    of teaching the way it should be respected,” Luo said. “Teachers are not paid
    well enough, they do not get enough benefits and they are not given enough time
    off in regards to the time they spend working.”

    UCSD faculty and staff, inspired to enhance
    the public teacher’s profile, formed the Science and Math Education Program
    this year, providing an organization focused on boosting interest in teaching
    math and science.

    “The program I’m involved in … is making a
    special effort to entice UCSD undergraduates who are planning to major in
    science, mathematics or engineering to consider a career in teaching,” said
    John Czworkowski, a lecturer. “A group of staff and faculty in the Education
    Studies Program as well as departments of science and mathematics are actively
    engaging students on campus, incoming freshman and transfer students. We’re
    also seeking financial and other support for students interested in teaching
    these subjects from outside sources.”

    The program opened campus minors in
    mathematics education and science education, both consisting of 34 units of
    educational foundations and general teaching courses for the respective
    disciplines. The minors begin with optional freshman seminars, one in math and
    one in science.

    “My freshman seminar acts as an introduction
    to the minor and gives an overview of a number of important issues in science
    education,” said Czworkowski, who offers Teaching Science: The Challenge.

    Along with coursework, students pursuing an
    education studies minor must take two practicum courses, which provide them
    with the opportunity to work with a teacher in a classroom setting and learn
    how to write a curriculum and, in upper-division courses, actually teach the
    children with whom they work.

    The program is meant to give students
    confidence in their teaching abilities and an understanding of what it takes to
    teach effectively.

    The Science and Math Education Program has
    had more than 70 students attend its informational meetings in the first few
    weeks and is hoping to attract more as the program continues to grow. Luo was
    one of the first to notice the program, and signed up for the freshman seminar.

    “I’m interested in teaching science because
    I am interested in changing lives,” Luo said. “Being a teacher is one of the
    few job opportunities that puts you right in the action of watching and helping
    kids grow and change. Teaching is a lifelong, constantly changing field that
    requires a love for kids and a love for knowledge.”

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