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Patrick Ralston

EDCI 205

Qing Wang


Education Autobiography

With the start of my school visitation next week, I have been asked to take a look at what

has lead me to this point. In other words, why do I want to become a teacher and what lessons

have my past taught me about the type of teacher I want to become.

The start of my educational journey began when my parents enrolled me in Kindergarten

at St. Barnabas Catholic school. St. Barnabas was a private school that educated kids

Kindergarten through eighth grade. The student population of St. Barnabas was predominantly

both Catholic and white, which was partially influenced by the extreme proximity of the Perry

Meridian schools. For grades K-6 I cannot say I remember much about anything other than the

multitude of teachers seemed to enjoy their jobs and from what I was able to figure out they did

not seem to mind the cut in pay that comes with teaching in a private school. For the 6th-8th

grades I can remember more about the teachers I had, and one that sticks out to me was my 8th

grade social studies teacher who would seem to cover the basics, or in other words taught to the

test. He did not explain why what we are learning is important, and it really affected how much

myself and the class payed attention as a whole. In these years though I become introduced to the

world of theater which introduced me to performing in front of an audience.

After I graduated from St. Barnabas I next attended Roncalli High school, a private

catholic school which St. Barnabas and the other surrounding catholic grade schools fed into.

Similar to the teachers at St. Barnabas the teachers at Roncalli did not seem to mind the pay
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difference for teaching at a private school, each one seemed passionate about their subject

material. I also noticed the personal investment each of the teachers would put into their courses.

In high school I became heavily involved in the fine arts programs becoming involved in 9

theatrical productions and two competition seasons of show choir. These experiences helped me

become extremely comfortable in my own skin as well as helping me become comfortable not

only being in front of people but performing in front of them.

After my four years at Roncalli, I next decided to attend the private University of Marian

in Indianapolis in pursuit of a double major in secondary education and history. I would end up

only spending a single semester there before transferring to the University of Purdue. One of the

main reasons for this decision was that I had gone to the University on a show choir scholarship

and I was not enjoying show choir like I had in high school, also the University started to feel too


During my 13 plus years as a student I have picked up a few lessons that I will try my

hardest to learn from in order to improve myself as a future educator. One of these lessons I feel

is probably the hardest one for educators to actually accomplish and if they cannot the

repercussions are clearly visible. The lesson is that as a teacher you have to create an atmosphere

in the classroom that makes you approachable to your students while simultaneously keeping

yourself at enough of a distance that you remain an authority figure to your students as well as

maintaining control of the classroom. I saw this lesson play out both ways in high school. In two

of my English classes for example I saw this lesson play out negatively. I am willing to bet for

most of us the thought of having an English class probably did not leave us full of anticipation.

To compensate for this two of my English teachers tried to create a fun atmosphere for the class

by trying to becoming all buddy buddy with the class and joked about some of the material. As
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a result, this choice lead to the class as a whole becoming disengaged with the subject material

and with the ability for the students to really take the teacher seriously as an authority figure. On

the other hand, I also witnessed this lesson play out for the benefit of everyone, in the many

theater classes I took in high school the head of the theater department was able to create a

persona that showed he was goofy and approachable but as soon as he felt the class beginning to

slip away from him he would become stern enough in order to regain control. This helped clearly

lay out what the boundaries were in the classroom and helped focus the attention more of the

material at hand.

Another lesson I have taken away from my experience as a student would be from my

Hist 104 class at Marian University. This was the importance of not only going beyond the

surface of the material but also giving the information context so that the students are able to

better grasp the material and maybe even relate it to their own lives. In the class our professor

would take the time to break down terms we take for granted now such as the term race and

explain how the term originated around the 14th-15th centuries as a way for to a) make themselves

feel superior to the local inhabitants and b) to help justify the treatment of the native populations

in their colonies. As well as showing similarities between different events in history. Such as the

use of medical scientists to prove the inferiority of black people to whites in the 1800, and the

later use of medical scientists later by the Nazis to prove the inferiority of both the Jews and

other undesirables to the Nazis master race. These instances of going beyond the basics of the

course material helped me to begin to see some underlying themes in history that have played out

again and again throughout history.

The final major lesson I have taken form my experience as a student is not so much a

lesson of how I want to teach but more of one of where I want to teach. This lesson came in high
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school during one of my channel one periods (basically a study hall), it was near the time of

prom during my senior year in high school. This lesson came during a conversation with teacher

who was assigned to keep an eye on us during this period, he was also the head of the prom

committee in charge of the entire event from picking the location to working with the junior class

in designing it. During a conversation I had with him he mentioned how in the past the event

staff and the childrens museum had commented on the difference between the students of

Roncalli and those from the surrounding public schools. Such as during the actual prom they

very rarely had an issue with the Roncalli kids if at all, on the other had with some of the public

schools the museum had hosted they would have several instances of having to call the polices to

break up a fight that broke out during the prom. This got me thinking of if I did become a teacher

what type of environment would I want to teach at. I decided that I would prefer to teach at a

private school despite the difference in pay, in order to be able to have more opportunities to go

beyond the basics of the material and have a deeper discussion with the class that would benefit


Now we come to the most important question, why do I wish to become a teacher? Well

the answer to that question two parted. When it comes to the subject matter the answer becomes

quite simple, for a long as I can remember I have always loved history. When I was younger I

would find myself spending hours reading through the same history books that were around the

house. I was mesmerized by how these events that seem to have no connection to the present can

still have a profound impact on the course of events. But the thing I could not understand and

was continually baffled by was how little people knew or even cared about history. I could not

understand how people could ignore a subject that explains both how the US went from a meager

13 colonies to arguably the largest superpower in the modern world, and helps explain the
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current political climate and how we got there. Add on to that the you can call it stereotype of

most sport coaches being hired on as social studies teachers who simply teach to the test and I

cannot seem to turn away and see arguably the most important subject be given less respect than

it deserves.

But then why teaching that answer is not as straightforward, when I was in high school I

was heavily involved in the theater program which as I stated before helped me become

comfortable being in front of groups of people and performing. Towards the middle of the

second half of my senior year I had just recently been notified by Purdue that I did not qualify

for their Mechanical Engineering program, and was left wondering what now? It honestly took

me awhile to figure it out, but once I just took a step back and looked at what I was good at and

not what I wanted to be good at. I was left with a love of history and a love of performing, from

there the only logical thing that I could come up with was pursuing a degree in education.

Throughout my life as a student, for the vast majority of it I would have never of thought

that I would end up being a teacher. I thought that teachers were there just to make our lives hard

with homework and then to just pass us along to the next grade. But as I have gotten older I have

realized the importance of education and the consequences of subpar educators. In the case of

history, it can be summed up in one statement Those who do not remember the past are

condemned to repeat it (George Santayana). If we want to be able to move forward as a society

then we need to educate ourselves about the lessons of the past, and an effective way to

accomplish this is to create better History teachers to help pass the lesson along to the next