Education department revises early childhood education minor

Preschool students play games with a college volunteer at Mary Randall.
Sonja Bindus | Courtesy

The Hillsdale education department revised its early childhood education minor for the fall of 2022, focusing primarily on the history and philosophy of education.

Hillsdale College has a long history of training teachers, according to the head of the early childhood education minor and director of the Mary Randall Preschool, Sonja Bindus. Bindus said the goal of the revision is to continue this training while making it more accessible for completion for the students.

The revision will also add a new class to the requirement, early childhood education teacher apprenticeship.

“This is probably the biggest deal in what’s going to make the most impact for students who are interested in an early childhood education minor,” Bindus said. “This apprenticeship class allows for fewer hours per week in the classroom, making it much more doable for students.”

The apprenticeship class will allow students to choose two, three, or six credit hours instead of the previously required 17.5 hours a week in a classroom, according to Bindus.

“Previously, this minor used to be 20 credit hours, and we are taking it down to 18,” Bindus said.

The early childhood education minor falls under the department of education, along with the classical education minor, according to Daniel Coupland, chairman of the education department.

Bindus said the goal of the early minor education is to train students to be teachers through the study of concepts, language, literature, character, and responsibilities, and through the experience of working in a model preschool.

One of the key components of the early childhood education minor is its partnership with Mary Randall Preschool, a lab school for students to practice teaching children.

“This is a lab school, meaning we are owned and operated by Hillsdale College,” Bindus said. “It was originally established in 1929 by a psychology professor, and he thought it would be a good idea for college students to see child development first hand. Not just learn about it and read about it, but see it in action.”

The early childhood education minor started in 1929, according to Bindus. The main difference between the early childhood education minor and the classical education minor is the age and focus of study, according to Bindus.

“Our focus is elementary, so Pre‑K through fifth grade,” Bindus said. “Students are going to learn about child development, human development, learning, and how our cognitive development plays a role in our academic successes.”

Coupland explained the main differences of age and focus between the early childhood education minor and the classical education minor.

“The early childhood education minor is primarily pre-school and lower elementary, but it’s not specifically targeted towards classical schools,” Coupland said. “The classical minor is much more targeted at students who are interested in teaching at a classical school.”

Both Coupland and Bindus said, because the classical education minor and early childhood education minor fall under the education department, some of the elective classes overlap between the minors. Bindus said this allows for students interested in early childhood education to take some classical education focused classes and vice versa.

The minor’s revision, which also modifies the history and philosophy of early childhood education coursework, helps emphasize this important understanding, according to Bindus.
“The part of the early childhood component that we really focus on is understanding what the causes are that might inhibit learning later,” Bindus said. “Also, how to assess that and then how to make a learning plan or how to assist the student in a corrective way.”

Bindus said that feedback for the early childhood education minor revisions has already been positive.

“The students I’ve been in touch with who are interested in teaching are super excited,” Bindus said. “Administrators that I’ve talked to are very positive about it as well.”

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