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The Foundations of Preparing Teachers: Are Education Schools Really “Intellectually Barren” and Ideological?


by Dan W. Butin — July 24, 2004

A host of recent federal, state, and scholarly initiatives question the viability of traditional teacher preparation programs. One recent study, for example, has suggested that teacher preparation programs are “intellectually barren” and ideological. This paper replicates and extends this study to arrive at a more nuanced understanding of the actual practices of the more than 2,000 teacher education programs across the country. A content analysis of a large number of social foundations of education syllabi was conducted. This study found that prospective teachers may not be receiving an adequate preparation within their foundations courses. But this inadequacy is not one of being “intellectually barren” and ideologically skewed. Rather, prospective teachers are not being adequately exposed to the critical conversations, intractable dilemmas, and potential effectiveness of American education. The over-reliance on textbooks and the scant use of primary sources, when linked to additional problematic institutional contexts, suggests that prospective teachers may be better prepared to replicate the educational status quo rather than engage in substantive inquiry, intellectual debate, and deep reflection.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: July 24, 2004
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11349, Date Accessed: 9/30/2014 7:56:30 PM

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About the Author
  • Dan Butin
    Gettysburg College
    E-mail Author
    Dan Butin is an Assistant Professor of Education at Gettysburg College. He is the editor of Teaching Social Foundations of Education: Contexts, Theories and Issues (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, in press) and Service Learning and Higher Education: Critical Issues and Directions (Palgrave, forthcoming). His research and publications focus on the intersections of critical multiculturalism and poststructuralist thought, teacher education, and alternative pedagogical strategies.
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