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Author Topic: I don't know what to do!  (Read 27922 times)
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« on: February 05, 2012, 1:04:56 am »

I'm unsure if this is the place in which I should seek advice but I'm extremely stressed out over what I should do. 

I'm currently a middle school math teacher, and while I do like my job, I'm unsure if it's what i want to do permanently. I have a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies K-8 because, until I took Calculus 1, I was unaware of my passion for mathematics. Once I took it however; it was to late to change my major. Now I'm stuck with a B.A. in education with no specialization while I truly desire a B.S. in Mathematics or Mathematics Education.

I'm now looking into taking more math classes (calc II, III, Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, etc) but don't know if I should. While I love algebra I, algebra II, and calculus I don't think I want to teach it to high school students; therefore, my other option would be to teach at a community college or stay in middle grades. However, with a masters I would only be qualified to teach community college and I would make the equivalent, if not less, than what I make now. On the other hand it would be unnecessary for me to take all of those upper level mathematics classes to remain in middle grades education. Ultimately I'm more than perplexed, it's more like ridiculously frustrated. I have no idea which avenue to pursue. I also don't want to go into the private sector in mathematics, and I'm not sure if I even could for a lack of a competitive degree.

Therefore, as I see it I have two options, get a masters in middle grades mathematics and stay in middle grades education or take additional mathematics classes and obtain a masters in mathematics education to potentially teach high school and/or community college while later trying to pursue a doctorate to try and teach at a university.

I apologize for this post as I don't know if there are any answers, I suppose I'm just hoping for some advice.
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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2012, 2:38:36 am »

You might get some help, but as you know this forum is largely populated by college level faculty.

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« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2012, 7:34:00 am »

In the part of the country where I live, you need grad credits, ideally an MEd, to teach K12 with a full license, so are you working on an MEd now?  In any case, to teach at a CC, you really need an MA in math (not an MEd nor a degree in math ed), ideally you should have a doctorate.

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Adapting Zharkov a bit to this situation, ignorance and confusion can explain a lot.
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2012, 8:21:56 am »

Calc I isn't very far into the study of mathematics. I suggest taking Calc II & III as a non-degree seeking student  and see if your passion sustains itself. If it does, you are two steps closer to having the prereqs for a master's level math program (math, not math ed), which would be the eventual step you need to take.

"Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist." -George Carlin
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Posts: 90

« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2012, 9:15:14 am »

I suggest taking Calc II & III as a non-degree seeking student  and see if your passion sustains itself.

This, except instead of Calc III I suggest taking a proofs course.  Calculus is quite different from most courses in the math major and a proofs course will give you a better flavor for what to expect in an undergrad math major.

I also think what you should do depends on the expense of this path.  If you enjoy learning the material and it doesn't cost you much then so what if you remain a middle school math teacher?  You have enriched your life for the learning and perhaps have improved your teaching by putting yourself in your students' shoes for a bit.  I wouldn't pay the cost of a an entire undergrad BA though unless you expect some kind of return on that investment.

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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2012, 3:01:16 pm »

This is something I see too frequently:  a student who wants to teach, gets sucked into the pre-professional teaching program, takes a class in the subject they're teaching, falls in love and wants more.  I wish Education degrees would encourage more content so that students like this could stretch themselves.  I think it makes for better (more passionate) middle-level and h.s. level teaching, and also allows the the teacher to truly understand the material that they're teaching. 

I like the idea of taking the upper level classes for enrichment and seeing where it leads.  I'm not sure of your age -- did you just graduate, and start teaching, or have you been doing it for awhile?  Either way, it's not unusual to embark on multiple careers in a lifetime -- so maybe the math classes will lead to a Ph.D. and maybe not.  Maybe they'll lead to curricular development.  Maybe they'll lead you to a love of logic and clear thinking, which could be used anywhere and be a bonus to any career.  If you want to get that masters in middle school ed to better your prospects, consider some of the good lectures coming out of MIT's free access IUniversity postings.  They also can feed your passion.
Distinguished Senior Member
Posts: 2,313

« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2012, 9:48:17 pm »

I'd caution that just because you liked Calculus does not mean you'll like advanced math courses. So I second Brixton's recommendation to look into MIT's Open Courseware lectures or to watch some mathematics lectures on iTunes U.
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« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2012, 10:41:23 pm »

I'm in math ed. I agree with everyone's above suggestions to pick up another semester of calc, a semester of linear algebra, and a first proofs course (Discrete Mathematics or whatnot). If your still feel passionate about mathematics after that, I would suggest you consider a post-bac in math. This is for two reasons. First, zharkov is correct that to teach with a MA/MS degree, most schools are looking for either a math master's or 18 credits of graduate mathematics courses (which is more than half of a degree). A post-bachelor's program would let you build the base you will need to tackle those grad classes. Feel free to PM me if you want more info.

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Junior member
Posts: 79

« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2012, 3:19:43 pm »

Calculus is quite different from most courses in the math major and a proofs course will give you a better flavor for what to expect in an undergrad math major.

+1 to this.

My recommendation: try to step through a first course in Analysis.  Good books include those by Walter Rudin and Robert Bartle.  If you can stomach proofs of the Archmidean property for the real numbers and the ones involved with continuous real functions, great!

There was a wonderful list called "How to Become a Pure Mathematician" with dozens of recommendations for textbooks/course materials to use in learning specific subsets of mathematics.  The site is offline now, but there's still a copy available through the Wayback machine at archive.org.  It also looks like the same material is available on Blogger.

Good luck!

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