“A World of Incredible Diversity” was written by Katherine Carlebach, Social Studies Education major, Class of 2012.
I always thought that my college education was to prepare me for my real life job. That the focus should be the courses that would help me understand the way teaching worked, the positive and negative aspects of American education, and, of course, the history content to build strong curriculum. I was aware to some extent that I would need more than this academic background to enter confidently into the world of teaching, but I had no concept of just how important developing my whole self would be.
Throughout the past four years at Boston University, my concept of preparedness has been blown open. Academically, I am ready to tackle the challenges of teaching. The incredible professors in the School of Education and the History department have shared with me their insights. I gained tremendously from their collective experiences and I look forward to using the wisdom they have imparted in my own classroom. But beyond the rich content, I value highly the way that SED professors look at their students as peers, making it known that, although they are there to teach, we are all in pursuit of the same goals, and must work together to effect change in education. The time I spent as a student has been invaluable. But perhaps the most surprising and most eye opening lessons of my college career took place outside the classroom.
The students in the School of Education were some of my greatest teachers. Leaving high school, I found myself suddenly surrounded by people whose ideas about politics and good teaching were at odds with my own; people who challenged me to think beyond my initial reaction, to search for an explanation and to appreciate their opinions. I found inspiration in their enthusiasm and direction from their guidance. Knowing that I had a strong and supportive network of friends and family allowed me to branch out, to explore, and to make the most of my college education.
Over the past four years I had the opportunity to travel extensively. Traveling taught me to rely on the kindness of others, to challenge my assumptions but most of all, to be flexible, patient and open-minded. One of my most jarring experiences came in Ghana, when, after an afternoon at a village school, the classroom teacher casually asked that I pray for the students before the school day ended. Coming from an almost secular up-bringing, the idea that I would be somehow responsible for the spiritual well-being of this classroom was terrifying. I stood, paralyzed, in front of 30 beautiful children, their heads bowed and their hands clasped on their desks. I led my first prayer in 20 years that day, and managed not to offend anyone either.
Entering Boston University in the fall of 2008, I was fully prepared to tackle my academics. I knew that making it through the next four years would require diligence and hard work. I was unprepared, however, for how much I would learn from the people and the experiences I would have outside the classroom. My time at Boston University was about so much more than study skills or job training. Some of the most valuable lessons came from watching the way my professors interacted with me and my peers, from the friendly debates amongst friends, and from my time abroad. Everything that I learned can, and will, be applied to my future as an educator, but more than that, it has helped me to feel prepared to enter a world of uncertainty, a world of incredible diversity, and make the most of each experience.