Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Final Degree

Last week I witnessed for the second time a teacher receiving their final degree. When teachers in Romania graduate university they are prepared to enter the workforce and begin their careers as teachers. Their scholarly obligations are over and the rest of their learning happens through years of experience that they will receive on the job, performing 18+ hours each week in front of a class. For some teachers this is enough training, but for most teachers striving for greater knowledge, greater opportunity, and greater pay there is an opportunity to progress.

Teachers can choose to continue studying by working on projects while they teach their weakly hours in the classroom. As they study, completing projects, they earn higher degrees. They receive a grade on their final degree by presenting their project to a panel of Professors, one of them being their project mentor. The project should have an original thesis, thereby adding insight to the field of study.

The final degree presentation takes place during the school day in one of the classrooms. The presenters that I have seen so far have been naturally nervous the morning before they presented their project to the panel of experts. Colleagues packed into the room to give support, adding extra pressure on the presenter. They listened attentively, gained some knowledge, and at the end of the presentation the panel, the audience, and the presenter had an opportunity to discuss the project.

After the event those people who attended congratulated their colleague and move to another room where there was a large spread of food, drinks and deserts.

The Romanian school system encourages its teachers to continue scholarly work by giving them higher pay for higher degrees. Teachers continue to progress and can even add valuable insight to their field through their research. When the final degree is presented to a panel of experts and a room full of supporters, teachers are learning more about education, research, and their colleagues. This is one aspect of the Romanian school system that I have enjoyed taking part in, even if I do not totally understand the presentation which is given in Romanian.

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