The topic of education continues to be a hot topic with parents, community members, politicians, media, and corporations. The media often portrays our educational system as “broken” or “lagging,” particularly as it relates to other countries. But what do teachers think? What do administrators see? More importantly, what does the research say about the state of education and the effectiveness of teachers? How do corporations influence educational decisions and where does research fit into this framework? These are questions that aspiring teachers may want to investigate through a critical lens as they consider a profession in education—the answers may be surprising.

This seminar explores current issues in education using information presented in the media and in peer-reviewed educational research, including, but not limited to, topics such as special education, high-stakes testing, Common Core, English Language Learners, and learning through play. Through research and exploration of media, students will retrieve, analyze, and synthesize topics of interest through presentations and course assignments. Students will prepare presentations and develop original arguments as a way to engage peers in discussions and conversations about self-selected educational topics. Presenters will be encouraged to explore and consider multiple perspectives on issues, including documentation from both research and media sources. Students will also develop arguments with a controversial paper on an educational topic of their choice. As a final exploratory exercise, students will visit the Children’s Museum of Richmond in Fredericksburg as a way to better understand how learning can be achieved through play and exploration.