New York University is considered one of the nation’s best universities, not quite Ivy League, but right up in that neighborhood. But what’s it really like? Is it all it’s hyped up to be? If you’re an education major, it largely depends on the kind of person you are, and your methods of learning.
New York University is inhabited largely by white, higher middle to upper class, liberal students. Most are from out of state, creating communities within dorm buildings, and often unconsciously isolating commuters. The school itself is involved in strikes, human rights movements, and even boycotts (the only vending machines you’ll find are of Pepsi drinks due to its Coca Cola boycott). This is reflected in the kind of education that is offered within the university.
Education classes that are required for all education majors teach progressive theories, treating traditional methods of teaching as ridiculous and wrong. The feeling you get is that you should sit in a circle with your students and have discussions about how a word should be spelled.
The classes for education majors revolve around reading and discussions, not practice. This favors those who have had experience with public speaking, or even teaching, as the courses do little to prepare you for actual teaching. Communications classes are not required, showing that NYU doesn’t think speech class is essential for future teachers.
Education students in the Steinhardt school are required 100 hours of field observation, and one or two years of student teaching (depending on whether you’re secondary or childhood ed). Placement for these observation hours is unreliable and often takes too long. I was once placed with 3 weeks left in the semester, and had to complete 30 hours, which I did in a math class (though I’m English Ed).
New York University is known for its amazing teachers. There are many fantastic professors in the college, but they all seem to avoid the Education department of Steinhardt. There is only one great Ed. teacher as far as I know. The best teachers I’ve had taught the state requirements, not those of my major. These are classes from outside of Steinhardt. I know anthropology and Japanese front and back, but I can tell you very little about British Literature or how to handle a rowdy class.
The question is, are you willing to sacrifice an education that centers of practice, for a piece of paper with a prestigious name on it? If you have the money to spend, you could look into it. The New York University education major caters to those who need little guidance, and who learn and get things done on their own. If you already know how to teach, and are skilled at researching and learning things on your own time, then it’s worth going to Steinhardt just to be able to say you’re an NYU graduate. This will open doors and provide opportunities for you. If you actually want to learn how to be a good teacher, or the materials you plan on teaching, within a structured and supportive environment… stay away from the Steinhardt School of Education. The only thing it will give you is a massive headache.