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Thinking Beyond Your Undergraduate Degree

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Thinker Magazine Issue 01: Thinking Beyond Your Undergraduate Degree

Francis Ben 
Head of Postgraduate  |   Head of Leadership

We all want to achieve well in our careers. But we have to work for it! “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” (Proverbs 13:4).

We live in a competitive world where industry professions are becoming more demanding in terms of skills and knowledge, and the ability to make a difference. Likewise, this can be said about the teaching profession. Teachers generally want to make a difference in the life and learning of their students.
This difference provides teachers with self- satisfaction as they see their students flourish and succeed – the very sweet fruits of hard work and dedication. Thus, teachers are not only required to be passionate about teaching, but are also required to have deep content knowledge, and an excellent understanding of a variety of pedagogy to help them engage and excite their students to learn in the classroom. This raises the question of whether an undergraduate teaching degree is enough to meet these requirements. Teachers develop and improve overtime through practice and brief exposure to professional development seminars and workshops, but this can be argued as slow growth.

There are reasons for the growing importance of holding a postgraduate degree in the teaching profession, such as a master’s degree. It enables better and deeper understanding of the nexus between teaching and learning; it significantly adds to the rigor of teacher training (for teachers who are already practicing) that could lead to excellence in teaching practice (i.e., more pedagogical skills) helping to improve student learning. Governments such as the UK, USA, Finland and Singapore strongly recognise the value of a master’s degree and the transformational impact it has on teachers, their colleagues, schools and the general community. In Australia, an article published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2017 supports this recognition by suggesting that teachers should carry on learning through postgraduate studies.

In addition, a master’s degree holder has the potential to earn higher salary and be more “market competitive” compared to peers who do not. A master’s degree also enables exploration of new career paths and expansion of professional network or collaborative learning prospects. It opens up opportunities for leadership as teachers with a master’s degree are better positioned to identify gaps in practice and policy through research. Consequently, there is a deeper respect for teachers with a master’s degree from the school and community. According to an article published by The Telegraph in the UK in 2016, a postgraduate degree, such as a master’s degree, is a “lifelong investment that will shape your future”.

While completing a master’s degree has benefits, there are associated challenges. Sometimes these challenges could easily be perceived to outweigh the benefits – from a different perspective, of course. Ultimately, it all comes down to personal choice. It is widely recognised that a number of factors including personal circumstances (e.g., time, family and work commitments) and cost influence the decision-making process. However, some teachers with challenging circumstances still persevere to complete a master’s degree as they recognise its value and importance in their career. The point is individuals can make adjustments in their life to accommodate new activities and endeavours. Focus, discipline and support (especially from family members/ loved ones and friends) are essential to achieving goals that require significant time and resource investments, such postgraduate studies.

Tabor offers a Master of Education course that is ideally suited for part-time
or full-time study. It offers flexibility that enables participants to focus on their particular educational, or topic of, interests in a highly supportive environment regardless of delivery mode – online, face-to-face, or blended learning. This course is suitable for all teachers, year level coordinators, and school leaders.