The Reconstruction of Teacher Education
by John I. Goodlad - 1970
Ideas are presented on ways to upgrade the qualifications of today's teachers. (Source: ERIC)
This paper begins with identification of some problems pertaining to educational change, with special reference to the education of teachers. Then it briefly presents the thesis with which the paper concludes: namely, that nothing short of a simultaneous reconstruction of preservice teacher education, in-service teacher education, and schooling itself will suffice if the change process is to be adequate. The paper then sets forth some observations on the state of the field with respect to both teacher education and schooling. It concludes with a series of recommendations for improvement which, taken together, are designed to constitute a comprehensive strategy for getting to the jugular vein of the educational system. At the outset, let me emphasize that what follows is incomplete in several significant ways. For example, I give little attention to the critical matter of what shall constitute process and substance in the basic sequence for the preparation of future teachers. It is difficult to avoid even as glaring an omission as this in an effort designed to deal, in a somewhat balanced way, with major components of the educational structure. Further, there are some exemplar programs pertaining to various parts of this whole. But to my knowledge, no existing model represents total reconstruction of the kind argued for here. However, some of the models currently being fostered and developed under the sponsorship of the Bureau of Educational Personnel Development of the United States Office of Education (Triple T programs) perhaps come closest in design to what is proposed.
Educational Change and Improvement: A Point of View
The most striking feature of any effort to improve education is its piecemeal character. The curriculum reform movement of the 19SO's began auspiciously with both the production of new materials for elementary and secondary schools and the re-education of teachers to deal with new content and method. Within a very few years, unfortunately, the teacher education component was falling by the wayside.
As a consequence, much of the intended thrust of what might have been a comprehensive effort at curriculum reform was lost in the classroom. Similarly, there have been significant recent efforts to restructure the school both vertically and horizontally so that pupil progress will be more continuous and so that teams of teachers will work with students as individuals and in groups of various sizes. Regrettably, however, these efforts at school reorganization have not been accompanied by the kinds of curricular and pedagogical changes needed to effect them fully. In general, teachers have not been prepared for nor educated in these redesigned schools and classrooms, but rather, are trained in and for yesterday's classrooms. Forward-looking administrators have difficulty finding the innovative teachers needed to redesign schools. Forward-looking teacher educators, on the other hand, experience comparable difficulty in seeking to identify innovative schools in which to prepare new personnel. More often than not, efforts to improve the schools and efforts to improve teacher education proceed with very little mutual awareness. The interlocking character of the system serves to keep it clanking along but provides neither for effective communication nor for reconstruction.
Ironically, within this system of extreme complexity, specific proposals for change are conveyed in the rhetoric of complete solutions. The classic panacea is the teaching of more "liberal arts" courses to end the assumed proliferation of "methods" courses—and sometimes this panacea is offered when there are no methods courses at all. A sad consequence of this folly is that teachers are turned out for the elementary school who have little idea, for example, of how to teach reading. Many of the same people who blindly recommended more liberal arts courses now condemn the teachers for their inability to teach children to read. A favorite set of recommendations pertains to student teaching. There should be more of it, or it should be placed earlier or later, or it should occur at several times in the teacher education sequence. There has been a lot of debate, too, as to whether the introductory course for teachers should be historical, philosophical, or sociological in orientation or whether it should combine all of these into something called cultural foundations. The debate includes whether the course should be at the beginning or at the end of the sequence or whether it should be before or after student teaching. Imbedded in all of these proposals are significant issues which must be resolved and resolved more effectively than in the past. It is the preoccupation with them, however, at the expense of all else, that gives one pause. Teacher educators must get above this myopic dialogue to face the fact that the solution to any one of these issues, no matter how sound or profound, is minuscule in the face of the gargantuan problems of educational improvement now facing us.
Nothing short of total reconstruction will suffice: of the courses in education, of the relationships between courses and practice, of the "mix" of faculty conducting the program, of the school setting for practice, of in-service education of teachers, of the school year, and of all the rest. We must develop comprehensive change strategies which take account of the fact that preservice teacher education, in-service teacher education, and the schools themselves are dependent, interrelated, and interacting components of one social system, albeit a malfunctioning one.
State of the Field: Some Observations
After long participation in and scrutiny of the so-called professional education sequence for teachers,1 I conclude that most of the courses in it have developed out of accretions of knowledge presumed to be relevant to education rather than out of fresh observations and interpretations of teaching and schooling as naturalistic processes. The courses in education, with a few notable exceptions, are very much like the courses in most other departments of the university in that they are about something—in this case, about education. As such, they probably are no better or no worse than these other courses. There is a place for them even in teacher education, just as there is a place for courses about things in surgery, business management, and law. But the subject matter must be as relevant as possible to teaching and the promotion of learning. There must be courses devoted directly to this practice, courses which involve the student in it and which are "about something" only to the degree that they seek to improve and develop understanding of what he is doing right now as a beginning teacher. In effect, then, the teacher education program must be both academic and clinical in character. The future teacher must teach individuals in groups; he must manage a class; he must become a participating member of a faculty group, seeking to change a segment of school practice; and he must, simultaneously, inquire into all of these as he experiences them. The courses about education, in turn, must place all of this in perspective without losing either figure or ground.
But this is not how teacher education courses have been constructed and taught. One result is the substantial disillusionment of the student who comes into them. He expects to get his hands dirty and his feet wet in real classrooms with real children or youth. At least this is what literally thousands of young men and women told us when we interviewed them during James B. Conant's study of the education of American teachers. Instead, they find themselves to be largely passive recipients of learning fare not too unlike that in psychology, philosophy, history, or whatever. Consequently, they condemn their education courses, not so much for their intellectual impoverishment as for their failure to bring them into the nitty-gritty of teaching itself.
A glaring aspect of this irrelevance has come sharply into view in recent years. Until very recently, most teacher education programs were conducted as though urban blight and human inequities did not exist. Except in a few urban universities, future teachers were protected from harsh environments and the problems pertaining to them by being placed in safe, homogenized city or suburban schools for their student teaching assignments. All of this is now changing, but the reconstruction required to make the courses relevant to social realities is formidable, indeed.
Another area of neglect is in "pedagogy." Students study principles of learning in their educational psychology courses. Rarely, however, are they provided an opportunity to carry these learnings directly into teaching situations where they may test and receive constructive feedback regarding their efforts to apply. The problem is partly—but only partly—one of numbers. Classes in educational psychology and methods of teaching usually are large. At the very time the future teacher needs a truly clinical orientation, he finds himself in a large lecture class with very little opportunity to see and analyze let alone participate in teaching processes employing the principles being studied. It must be admitted, also, that educational psychologists frequently are far removed from the classroom in their own work and interests and not well equipped to spell out the practical implications of what they teach.
Another set of problems in the teacher education sequence arises out of the several differing sets of values with which the future teacher must cope as he moves through his introductory courses into student teaching in neighboring schools. No consistent, agreed-upon set of values or approaches to valuing pervade the preparation program. In chameleon-like fashion, the student adjusts to one set of values pertaining to the use of theory, research, and inquiry within the university context and then to another, pertaining to survival and the perpetuation of existing practices during his apprenticeship. Since he hopes and expects to be employed by the school system in which this apprenticeship is obtained, the values of the school and classroom where he is placed are powerful and pervasive. In general, then, he is directed not toward what schools could be but toward what they are.
In contrast to the professions of medicine, law, and dentistry, professional attitudes in teaching—and, in fact, professional skills—are left in large measure to chance. In the majority of teacher-preparing institutions, the future teacher takes a few scattered courses in education as an undergraduate while pursuing his degree. The education courses are regarded by many simply as necessary requirements to be met. For vast numbers of students, teaching is not yet a firm goal, but is rather a kind of insurance, especially for young women who anticipate marriage at or soon after graduation. Securing the degree is the major goal, and teaching—at least until the student enters into the student-teaching part of his program—is secondary, at best.
We know that it is exceedingly difficult to change the behavior of young children. It is many times more difficult to change the behavior of young adults. Nonetheless, we proceed on the implicit assumption that significant change will and does, occur through a process of osmosis involving lectures, textbooks, and in dependent study. These techniques are reasonably effective in promoting low-level cognitive changes. It is exceedingly doubtful that they make any profound differences in attitude formation. A student motivated toward the attainment of the degree, dividing his time between this pursuit and scattered courses in education, will develop only by happy chance the commitment necessary for effective teaching in modern society.
Certain conditions built into the conduct of teacher education programs and into the professorship also work against the development of professional attitudes and skills. In major universities there is a high premium on inquiry designed to advance knowledge. This probably is as it should be, since there are few other institutions in our society assuming such a role. Conscientious professors are troubled by a schizophrenic situation in which they see little possibility for research productivity if they give to future teachers the attention professional development deserves. To move beyond anything other than lecturing in seeking to individualize instruction is to take on an exceedingly difficult role and no certain recognition. Assistant professors learn from older colleagues the fate of idealistic young teachers who chose to go the individualized instruction route in teacher education programs. Others are insightful enough to realize that their academic preparation to be students of the educational process is not adequate preparation for the clinical role of guiding neophytes in pedagogy. This latter situation, which many professors caught in the dilemma will quickly recognize, is not likely to be dissipated simply by placing more stress on and giving greater recognition to teaching in universities. Improvement will come only when we recognize that teacher preparation is not something to be done on a mass basis but is akin to other professions in its demands for individualized instruction. To educate teachers properly will require financial outlays for academic and clinical personnel of a kind not yet contemplated in educational planning.
In-service Teacher Education
Turning to in-service education of teachers, we find little to reassure us that constructive educational change is likely to occur as a result of it. Large numbers of teachers on the job are preparing themselves not to become better teachers but to leave the classroom. In one of the studies referred to in footnote 1, we found that large numbers of teachers enrolled in graduate programs were preparing to be administrators. It is questionable that preparing to become an administrator, when no prospect of employment is in the offing, constitutes a sound basis for teacher morale or professional improvement. It is worth noting, also, that securing a degree in educational administration usually serves just as well as a degree emphasizing teaching in gaining salary advancements. Our study of sixty-seven elementary schools in the United States (footnote 1) revealed a formidable gap between the in-service educational pursuits of teachers and the critical problems of the schools as identified in interviews with principals and teachers. A substantial number was engaged in some kind of extra-school activity, such as an evening class in a neighboring university, a research project with a professor, or some kind of district committee seeking to make recommendations for curricular improvement. But we found few instances of planned faculty attack on the vast array of problems identified by the staff as critical. In only four of sixty-seven schools was there anything resembling a critical mass of personnel engaged in systematic planned attack on these problems. It would appear then that relatively few school faculties are actively engaged in reconstruction. Given this fact, we cannot expect our schools to do a more effective job in their communities simply by doubling and redoubling the kind of in-service education currently under way. A more carefully designed strategy focused directly on the problems of the schools themselves is called for.
Conduct of Schooling
In the same way that certain conditions surrounding the professorship and the education of teachers in universities are not conducive to change, certain conditions surrounding the conduct of schooling contribute more to maintaining the status quo than to facilitating effective change. Education probably is the largest enterprise in the United States that does not provide for the systematic updating of its personnel. After basic requirements for certification are met, further study often is optional and at one's own expense. Forward-looking industries, by contrast, make certain that their employees are updated in the latest ideas and techniques, on company time and at company cost. Employees who do not take advantage of these opportunities find themselves unemployed or stalled on the advancement ladder.
Schooling is geared to self-maintenance and not to change. Tackling the problems facing schools today demands team work. But the principal and his staff are engaged in essentially individualistic activities which keep them occupied and separate from morning until late afternoon. It is unrealistic to expect a staff, with tag ends of energy left over, to enter enthusiastically and vigorously into the business of changing schools after school is out. Keeping school is, in itself, exceedingly demanding. It is not at all surprising, then, that the efforts of school staffs, under present conditions of limited time and energy, result in peripheral but not basic changes.
Studies suggest that principals are chosen, not because of their recognized leadership abilities, but with the expectation that they will maintain the system. A nationwide prejudice against women as administrators-changing very slowly—results in the selection of men over women regardless of qualifications. Many elementary school principals have had little or no experience in the classroom and simply are lacking in ability to help teachers with their pedagogical problems. In general, the training of school principals has not been directed toward the development of leadership skills needed for unleashing the creative talents of teachers. Consequently, the principal often tends to routine matters of keeping school while teachers work largely independent of each other in classroom cells. The time, setting, leadership, and resources for reconstructing the school too seldom come together in such a way as to produce the fundamental changes our times and problems demand.
Because only a few school faculties are systematically engaged in improving the school environment for learning, we have in this country surprisingly few models of what redesigned schools could and should be like. The thrust of significant changes recommended for American schooling during the past decade or two has been blunted on school and classroom door.
When one brings into perspective all of these conditions—pertaining to preservice teacher education, in-service education, and school improvement—one sees that the total system is designed for self-maintenance, not self-renewal. Teachers for schools of today and tomorrow are trained in settings encrusted in the mold of yesterday. Shaking free of this mold necessitates the injection of change into each component part of the system. Because envisioning and dealing with this system as a whole is so essential, each of us must make the effort to rise above myopic concentration on minuscule portions of immediate but relatively minor importance.
A Strategy for Improvement
It is obvious that no single change or innovation is adequate to cope with this complex array of problems. Although no single change will suffice, we must proceed on the assumption that an interrelated series of proposals, if effected, might bring about significant improvement. Most of the proposals enumerated below have been set forth, at one time or another, for the improvement of teacher education. It is not the virtue of any one of them that is significant here. Rather, significance rises out of the potentiality for manipulating simultaneously all or most of the major components of an interacting system.
The first recommendation calls for admission of future teachers into a program requiring full-time commitment. The student accepts the fact that he is entering, full time, upon a professional program designed to prepare him to teach in schools. In the process of engaging in such preparation, he may complete a bachelor's degree in the arts or sciences. But this is now a secondary rather than a primary goal. Whether taking a course in education or in a subject field such as mathematics, the goal is to learn to teach and to become a functioning member of a faculty responsible for the education of young people. This is different from the kind of commitment that usually characterizes participation in a teacher education program today.
Having been admitted, the future teacher immediately joins a teaching team in a teacher education center— a collaborating school—affiliated with the college or university in which he is enrolled. At the outset, participation is limited but specific with respect to authority and responsibility. He receives a small but ascending stipend as a teacher aide. With increase in responsibility, he moves to the role of intern, and ultimately, resident teacher, with the stipend steadily increasing at each level of preparation and responsibility. Even as a resident teacher, however, his salary is substantially lower than that of a beginning teacher today. The concept being implemented here is that passage from the status of college student to schoolteacher is accompanied throughout by responsible involvement and financial recognition, with both advancing commensurately.
Just as beginning teachers in training are apprentice teachers, collaborating personnel in the schools are apprentice teachers of teachers. In the preceding analysis of the current teacher education scene, the point is made that professors of education often are ill-prepared to provide the clinical component which is so critical in the education of future teachers. The best potential source of such personnel is the schools. Consequently, schools of education must recruit from the schools those persons who appear to offer promise for becoming clinical members of the faculty. Clinical faculty members so recruited would retain, their basic appointments in the schools while affiliated with colleges or universities. It is characteristic of many good teachers that they simply lack the capability of transmitting their skills or the reasons underlying them to those in training. It would seem appropriate, therefore, that schools of education seek to bring out these talents by assisting outstanding teachers in interpreting their procedures to beginning teachers on the job. Those experienced teachers in the schools who prove to be most competent in this process should be selected as short-term or part-time clinical faculty to work with the academic faculty of teacher-preparing institutions. We see then the emergence of a teacher education effort shared appropriately by persons trained in research and inquiry and persons possessing unusual skills in teaching and, ultimately, ability to transmit these skills to beginners.
It is proposed next that the academic and clinical faculty join in the development and conduct of seminars organized around problems encountered by beginning teachers in the schools. The substance of teacher education courses must emerge, not from the analysis of subject matter assumed to be relevant and selected from appropriate disciplines, but from continuing analyses of the real world of teaching. Although problems of the beginning teacher constitute the initial focal point for bringing to bear relevant knowledge, such problems constitute only the beginning and not the end. It will be the responsibility of the joint faculty to bring into juxtaposition both the theoretical knowledge and the clinical skills needed to cope with the specific problem at hand and related problems likely to emerge in the future. Thus on the surface the curriculum is organized around pressing problems of teaching. Looking deeper, however, one discovers that these problems are merely departure points. Beginning with them, the student is brought into knowledge from many disciplines increasingly seen as relevant to teaching.
To develop a required sequence of courses out of such a process, however, is to return us, ultimately, to the sterility and irrelevance now prevailing. Beginning teachers do not encounter problems in orderly sequences. It is unrealistic to believe that any sequence of courses, however carefully prepared, will suffice for all students. Therefore, it is recommended that the faculty prepare a number of interchangeable modules on teaching designed to provide specific knowledge and skills pertaining to the needs of beginning teachers, needs identified through a feedback system. These modules might include instruction in the specification of educational objectives, evaluation, application of learning theory, use of audiovisual aids, teaching of specific aspects of various subjects, and so on. Stored on videotape, filmstrip, microfiche, and programmed lesson, such modules would serve to satisfy specific needs of individual students arising out of their guided teaching experience.
Next it is recommended that students participate regularly in critiques of teaching taking place daily in their schools. Each day, one or more lessons taught by academic or clinical faculty, teachers, aides, or interns would be subjected to critical analysis by some member of the total team. This activity is missing from the conduct of schooling today. Because it is likely to be threatening to experienced teachers, it is suggested that initial critiques be conducted on the lessons of volunteers. Subsequently, more and more teachers would be willing, experience suggests, to permit their teaching to be used for critical analysis. In time, the teacher education center becomes a place of inquiry into teaching.
A major responsibility of the academic faculty, in the reconstruction proposed here, would be to join the staffs of teacher education centers hi the business of school improvement. Specialists in the teaching of reading, the preparation of curricula, the organization of schools, and the role of values in making decisions would regard the teacher education centers as laboratories for extending their academic interests to the schools. The prime in-service activity of each staff member in the teacher education centers would be the identification and resolution of the central problems residing in their schools. The goal would be to engender a process of self-renewing change in which college professors, experienced schoolteachers, and beginners at several different stages of preparation would play their respective roles.
For such a proposal to become functional, it is necessary that considerable responsibility for decision-making now centralized in school districts be decentralized to individual schools. I have long believed that a single school with its principal, teachers, students, and parents is the largest organic unit for change in our educational system. If individual schools are caught up in dynamic self-renewal, then the school system as a whole is potent. If the school is to be the key unit for change, then the principal must become the key agent for change, since he occupies a position through which he can effectively block or facilitate the process.
If the principal is to provide constructive leadership for change, he must be trained in what is required. It is unrealistic, however, to expect the principal to possess those pedagogical skills required for assisting the staff to teach. In the structure proposed here, this is quite unnecessary. But it is essential that the principal understand the interacting social system of which he is a part and the dynamics of effecting planned change. Instruction in these matters should be at the heart of leadership training.
As stated earlier, the structure of schooling effectively restricts the kind of staff planning required for educational improvement. There simply is not time both to maintain the ship and to redesign it. Consequently it is proposed that teachers be employed on a twelve-month basis, with at least two months of the year devoted to both personal improvement and total school planning. There are many ways of implementing such a proposal. Under one scheme, teachers teach for six weeks, have a planning week with children out of school, teach for an additional six-week period, engage in a period of planning, and so on throughout the twelvemonth year. With teachers employed for twelve months (with a month's vacation) and with children attending school only nine months, approximately two months of non-teaching time are available for the planning activities essential to the self-renewing school.
If teachers are to make effective use of this period of non-teaching, however, they must be part of a team-teaching structure. By teaching in teams, it is possible for members of each group to devote a considerable proportion of their time to planning, preparing instructional materials, evaluating, and replanning. Whatever other arguments there may be for team teaching, a critical one is to provide the kind of flexibility necessary for effective planning to proceed. Also it is difficult to see how beginning teachers can be introduced into responsibility for teaching on a limited basis unless they are members of teaching teams.
Clearly, the commitment and involvement of teachers-in-training called for here requires a substantial period of full-time preparation. It is recommended that the total time span from entry to graduation as a full-fledged teacher be from two to three years and culminate in a terminal professional degree. One possible alternative is to begin the teacher education program with the senior year in college. Students would receive the baccalaureate after one year in the program but would continue into an additional year of post-baccalaureate work. Another alternative is to begin such a program at the post-baccalaureate level with the candidate pursuing two years of work leading to the Master of Arts in teaching. To repeat, it is essential that students enter into a full-time commitment at the outset and that all other goals become secondary. It is essential, also, that the degree awarded be regarded as terminal. From this point on, the educational system should provide for professional updating at the cost to the enterprise. Persons desiring to move into some other aspect of education would leave teaching in order to pursue advanced, specialized professional education.
It is recommended, also, that there be moderate salaries throughout the training period. Initial stipends would be increased gradually to a level of perhaps $2,000 below present first-year salaries. With completion of the program, however, and admission to the teaching profession, truly professional salaries would prevail. It is proposed that such salaries begin at $10,000 per year and move upward to more than $20,000 over a period of from ten to twelve years. The net effect would be to attract committed persons into a profession of lifelong reward and appeal.
The reader is reminded that the reconstruction proposed here results in reducing the ratio of full-fledged professional teachers to children. The proportion of adults in the pupil-teacher mix is more than made up, however, through the inclusion in each team of aides, interns, and residents, all assuming some responsibility for instruction. Cost estimates reveal that such staffing patterns cost little or no more than conventional arrangements.
A program of the kind outlined here necessitates nonspecification of courses for certification. Approval of individuals for teaching by a state agency would be replaced by approval of teacher-preparing consortia involving colleges and public schools. The decision to award teaching certificates to individuals would belong to the collaborating faculty, after careful observation and evaluation of candidates. Reliability in such appraisals could be improved through periodic use of outside evaluation teams.
Finally, at the heart of the whole, there should be a research center committed to the study of the entire enterprise. Such a center would engage in studies of pedagogy, the effects of experimental programs, the efficacy of various self-renewing strategies in the schools, and so on. Instead of there being a monolithic program, there would be several experimental ones, each with differing entrance requirements, course arrangements, balance of academic and clinical work, and so on. Every component part of the teacher education enterprise would be conducted as an hypothesis to be tested rather than as established assurance of what is effective education of the future teacher.
No part of what is proposed here is startling or unusual. Every element has been proposed; many have been tried. What is unique and unusual, however, is the proposition that all of these ingredients be put together simultaneously in a single collaborative enterprise designed for the in-service and preservice education of teachers and the improvement of schooling.
Clearly, the tasks proposed, taken together, are enormous—perhaps overwhelming. There are two ways to cut down the size of any problem. One is to eliminate some of the component parts in focusing on a few. The other is to focus on the whole by reducing the order of magnitude with regard to each component part. The second alternative is proposed here. The first has been tried and found wanting.
This means then that the arena in which the component parts are to develop, interact, and be studied must be kept as small as possible. Instead of many teacher education centers at the outset, there should be only a few. Instead of spreading the resources of the academic faculty across dozens of schools in an ad hoc process of school improvement, energy and talent should be focused on the few schools selected to serve as teacher education centers. Instead of endeavoring to move the entire teacher education program on an even front, existing programs should be allowed to phase out while new programs of a controlled and experimental sort are phased in. Instead of endeavoring to serve many individuals at varying stages in their preparation to teach, teacher-preparing institutions should focus on precise delineation of the group to be served, admitted at a specific time in the college or university hierarchy, with provision for individualization taking place within a defined structure. The principle of unity of structure and diversity of programs thus emerges.
There is no way of knowing at the outset whether a commitment to the kind of attack suggested here will correct the current deficiencies in teacher education and schooling. Nor is there experimental evidence to commend the directions proposed. But until one has created alternatives, there is no way of comparing alternatives. The problems which the strategy proposed here is designed to correct are formidable and of long standing. Redoubling our efforts to deal with them along present lines of endeavor will not suffice. The time is come to break out of old molds, to get beyond immediate preoccupations, in a comprehensive effort to deal with the whole
1 The observations in this section are based primarily on direction of or participation in the following studies: the organization of schooling (1963) for the Center for the Study of Instruction of the NEA; James B. Conant's study of the education of American teachers (1963); two studies of the curriculum reform movement (1964 and 1966); a study of school and classroom practices in sixty-seven elementary schools (in press); and a study of the process of change in eighteen elementary schools (in process).