In the spring of 2005, the Interdisciplinary Children’sStudies program at Eastern Washington University, will graduate itssecond class of students. The students majoring in Children’sStudies are working toward various degrees and occupations.
The program is interdisciplinary and is focused education. Itexamines not only the psychological views of children but alsosociological and educational aspects as well. The rights, thevoices and the agency of children are very important.
The program-management team consists of members of thedepartments of Education and Sociology, but other departments havesupporting courses and services for the program.
The knowledge of the student is enhanced so that they are sentinto their profession with a holistic, realistic and empatheticperspective.
The program consists of the core classes and four options, A, B,C and D (bachelor of arts education degree.) The student choosestheir options that best fit their interests.
“We get to work at our own level and interest. We get tochoose our projects and our own experiences that fit our individualinterests. The Children’s Studies program is studentoriented, and overall empowering,” said Shawna Davis, aChildren’s Studies major.
This option of study is research oriented; it was developed forstudents planning to go on to graduate study. This option alsoopens opportunities in agencies that collect and interpretinformation. One student in this program, John Michel, has designedhis program in a way that was able to combine his past and presentexperiences into the curriculum and pursue a master’s degreein school counseling.
“Most of the disciplines I had seen looked strictly at theadult perspective of working with children. If you work withchildren you should be able to see through the eyes of a child.This program offers a broader view of children in general,”said Michel.
This program focuses on program development that appeals to someonewho is looking at the management or coordination of services invarious agencies that support children and their families. LoriGagnon, who is a student in this option, said, “I want towork with non-profit organizations that focus on helping childrenand their families. I want to be an advocate for children who needhelp. Since I have been in this program I have seen new challengesand more opportunities than ever before.”
This option is designed as an early childhood education track. Thisprogram focuses particularly on children from birth to eight years.With this option, a student could pursue a career as an earlychildhood educator in Head Start, Early Head Start and other earlychildhood education programs.
Kathryn Eckenberg is a Children’s Studies major in thistrack. “I feel very fortunate to be in the right place at theright time and to be in the Children’s Studies program.Before, I wasn’t able to declare my major because Ididn’t fall into any other category. I wanted a major Ibelieved in, and that believes in the empowering of young children.I would tell students who were interested in working with youngchildren that this program is an opportunity to look at lifethrough the eyes of the child,” she said.
This is the BAE degree. This track requires Option A and theteacher certification endorsement. Its focus is on teachingchildren in public schools.
Shawna Davis, a current student of the program in Option D,said, “I wanted an Early Childhood degree and by taking amajor in Children’s Studies, Option D, I could do that whilegetting my Teacher Certification for teaching in the publicschools.
I have a passion for working with young children. Teaching is mypriority and it is important to realize that what children have tosay is valid and to understand children have a voice in theirlearning.”
These are the words of students presently studying the world ofchildren. These are students who have the passion to learn how toenhance and help develop the individuals we are raising. Childrenare wildflowers to be nurtured in their own unique way and theChildren’s Studies program offers the opportunity to be apart of that.
Of the students interviewed, I asked, “what do youappreciate most about the Children’s Studies program?”Their responses were:
“Being in a classroom setting that is collaborative, wheremy beliefs about children are valued and where on a daily basis Iam inspired by the professors and students around me,” saidKathryn Eckenberg.
“The freedom of research and interpretation. It is not astructured program. We get to choose the avenue we are mostinterested in,” said Shawna Davis.
“I appreciate that it is not social work and not justeducation. It is being an advocate for children and being able tohelp them,” said Lori Gagnon.
“Looking at children through non-traditional teachingwhere the children are not some futuristic goal to beobtained,” said John Michel.
For more information on the Children’s Studies program,please call the Children’s Studies office at 359-6478 andschedule an appointment to speak with an advisor. Or please comeinto the office Monday- Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4 pm.