Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education and Human Development announced that it will now continue its specialty education programs for freshmen in a mandatory Zoom call on November 12 – two days before students freshmen were only required to register for spring semester courses.
Prior to this year, students had the opportunity to choose from a variety of specialist majors. However, Wheelock eliminated most of those specialized majors this fall and offered undergraduates only the major in Education and Human Development.
Several freshmen said they were unaware of the changes to program requirements and teacher licensing, some until the November 12 meeting. In response to the miscommunication, the college announced that it would not offer current first-year students the option of choosing between reopened specialist majors or continuing with the major in education and human development.
Education and Human Development is a two-year program focused on learning about different teaching professions and fields of study. For the third and fourth years, students can choose from five specialist tracks: Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Deaf Studies, Educational Design for a Transformative Future, Teaching and Learning and Youth Development, and Justice.
The college ultimately plans to create a combined five-year bachelor’s and master’s degree program. The fifth year would consist of three semesters, with students obtaining their teaching license during this period. Previously, students could receive their bachelor’s degree during their undergraduate studies, but in the new undergraduate major, they cannot.
Wheelock Dean David Chard said the new curriculum was not initially communicated to students who were originally enrolled for fall 2020 due to poor communication on the Wheelock Bulletin, an updated website each year with information on specific Wheelock programs, policies and courses.
âThere is a group of students who I think may have a valid concern and these are the students who have been delayed for a year because of COVID,â he said. âThey were admitted for the fall of . They didn’t start their first year until the fall  because of the pandemic. They applied for a different program than the one offered starting this fall.
The college helped students meet with counselors to make informed decisions about which program they wanted to pursue, Chard said.
Chard added that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has encouraged the University to eliminate almost all current undergraduate education programs.
âMany school districts now require a master’s degree before hiring teachers,â he said. âSo what we’re trying to do is create pathways that will then result in a graduate program plus one or a combined degree program, undergraduate and graduate, that will prepare them for access. to a professional position. ”
Ellie Friedland, clinical associate professor of early childhood education at Wheelock, said the new major will provide students with a “viable” career path.
âWhat he’s opening the door to are five-year licensure programs. And that’s one of the things we’re creating in early childhood education, âshe said.
Friedland added that it can be very difficult to get a license while taking classes as an undergraduate student.
âDoing a bachelor’s degree program is really difficult,â she said. “You also have to take a bunch of MTEL [which are] the exams for state license and the students were trying to do all of that before they got their undergraduate degree, and it was very, very expensive.
Wheelock freshman Joel Hostetler said that at the time of signing up for fall 2021, the Wheelock Bulletin had not been updated with information about the new major, and the school had not announced the program either.
âIn other words, as far as I know, none of us knew this new program existed until we got here,â he said.
Hostetler said he went from majoring in education and human development to his original major in social studies after the college opened up previously offered programs.
“[The new major] would also have been a lot less history, which I came for, a primary focus on teaching historyâ¦ rather than what they offer, which is basically teaching with just a little bit of lessons â , did he declare. I wouldn’t feel like I was qualified enough to teach history if I didn’t take more classes.
He added that during the Zoom meeting he felt “pressure” to continue with the new program.
Renata Feinstein, a freshman at Wheelock, said she applied to BU because of the new major after hearing about it from a friend who attended an information session.
âActually, I wasn’t looking for a teaching license. I wanted an education program that would allow me to study education without necessarily becoming a teacher, âshe said.
Molly French, a first year student at Wheelock, said information about the new program was on the Wheelock Bulletin home page and explained in detail during orientation.
âI thought I wanted to be a teacher and applied to BU, but changed my mind over the summer,â she said. âI wasn’t sure. So I was really, really excited to be able to explore a bunch of other options, but still working with kids.
French said she liked the idea of ââa combined master’s program, as it would reduce the overlap of subjects.
âI really like the idea of ââremoving the overlap and building on what we’ve already learned and being able to graduate in a year,â she said.