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New Teachers For New Immigrants

by Harry N. Rivlin - 1965

The issues of urban education are analogous to those faced when great waves of immigration washed America's beaches at the turn of the century. Our current immigrants are in transition not from one nation to another, but from one subculture to a potentially more fulfilling one. To serve them in their quest, our schools must provide them first and foremost with better teachers. The author suggests a plan for the preparation of these "new" teachers, calling vigorously, among other things, for a longer and more intimate collaboration between colleges and school systems.

The issues of urban education are analogous to those faced when great waves of immigration washed America's beaches at the turn of the century. Our current immigrants are in transition not from one nation to another, but from one subculture to a potentially more fulfilling one. To serve them in their quest, our schools must provide them first and foremost with better teachers. Dr. Rivlin, Dean of the Division of Teacher Education at CUNY, here suggests a plan for the preparation of these "new" teachers, calling vigorously, among other things, for a longer and more intimate collaboration between colleges and school systems.

BY THIS TIME, virtually everyone knows that the schools in the big cities face major problems as they seek to educate their changing pupil population. The urban schools have an equally major opportunity to help their youngsters develop their potentialities and to continue the social climb they have begun. But the problems will not be solved and the opportunities will not be exploited unless the urban schools have an adequate supply of able and willing teachers.

At present, the problems are most acute in the big city, especially in the inner city. But our population is so mobile and social movements show so little respect for city limits that the problems now so prominent in the inner city will soon become the problems of almost all American education.

Many of the schools' problems arise from social changes and cannot be solved by the schools. The schools cannot wait until the community settles such issues as segregated housing and economic discrimination, for the schools must teach the children who are enrolled right now. Social change is no new phenomenon undoubtedly Adam told Eve as they were leaving the Garden of Eden that "This is a period of great social change." And society's institutions have always lagged behind changes in that society.


The children who present the great problem and challenge to today's schools may well be regarded as our new immigrants even though they are American citizens and may not be newcomers to their urban communities. The Southern Negro, the Puerto Rican, and the displaced rural family are immigrants because they have moved from a cultural setting with which they have been familiar to one that is markedly different. Even the Northern Negro and the Mexican-American present many of the social characteristics of the immigrant as they seek to escape from a population eddy in which they have been trapped for generations.

What makes the urban schools' problems so frustratingly difficult is that pressures are being exerted by opposing groups, each of which is right. Virtually all educators are agreed that schools must provide compensatory education when children are handicapped by the paucity of intellectual resources at home, the inadequacy of the schools previously attended, or the absence of a family academic tradition. No educator is against correcting educational and social conditions which interfere with learning.

The schools are under great pressure from groups that want not only Freedom Now! but Good Education Now! As American citizens, our new immigrants are unwilling to wait for an acculturation process that lasted generations for the older immigrants. They want their children to climb the social ladder with all other American citizens' children. Since all teachers agree that the demand for good education for the new immigrants is basically right, it is hard to resist the pressure for better schools and better teachers for the educationally handicapped.

The schools are also under pressure from another group, which is also right. In 1900, only some four or five percent of our college-age population went to college. Today, almost half of that group is enrolled in post-secondary school institutions, and the percentage is still increasing. If middle-class parents believe that the schools cater to the educationally handicapped at the expense of their own seemingly educationally talented youngsters, these parents may withdraw their children from the public schools and enroll them in private schools or leave the cityat least the inner city. As an unfortunate by-product of such transfers, the school system loses parents who have been most effective in supporting public education in the past. The stereotype of the big city schools as concerned only with the educationally disadvantaged does a great disservice, for it implies that the city schools have little interest in working with the educationally talented. How can we have integrated education if there are no middle-class children with whom to integrate?


Today's teacher must, therefore, be able to deal with both the handicapped learner and the talented one, and he needs great insight and ability to help a handicapped learner become a talented one. Teachers are expected to work with the slow readers and the nonreaders who, in earlier days, would have left school. Today, a wiser and a more concerned society no longer ignores the dropout, and teachers are expected to be educational and psychological experts who can keep the dropout in school and make schooling vital and useful for him.

Clearly, the pressures from both eager disadvantaged parents and anxious middle-class parents are legitimate. Adjusting the school to respond constructively to these pressures remains, nevertheless, a difficult undertaking that cannot be successful without capable teachers.

Today's teachers are better educated than were the teachers in the 19005 who had to teach the immigrants of those days. In 1900, for example, no state required a college degree of elementary school teachers and only two states required a baccalaureate degree for secondary school teaching. In 1964, however, 46 of the 52 state systems (including the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico) required at least a baccalaureate degree for an elementary school certificate, and all 52 required at least a baccalaureate degree for secondary school teachers.

Now that our teachers are better educated, why aren't they better prepared to deal with our new immigrants? Why do so many of our young teachers experience a feeling of "cultural shock" when they are appointed to their first job? Why do so many teachers discard what they learned at college and become the kind of teachers their colleges refuse to accept as cooperating teachers to whom student teachers can be entrusted?

Before I am listed erroneously as having enrolled in the Society for Attacks on Teacher Education, let me state positively that the average young teacher today is better prepared to teach, in terms of both general education and professional training, than was his 1900 predecessor; and let me point out, too, that thousands of new teachers each year accept appointments to urban schools and stay. I know, moreover, that there are a great many thoroughly competent and interested teachers in our inner-city schools who are slandered unmercifully by those who speak of "slum schools staffed by inferior teachers." Yet, the persistent problems indicate that changes in the ways in which we prepare and assign teachers are in order.

One aspect of the problem is illustrated by a new college which started an education department with everything in its favor. The college had a great educator as president and a carefully chosen student body. Among these students were some who wanted to teach; and from this group, the education department selected those to be prepared for teaching. The department was free to appoint the ablest and most imaginative faculty it could find and to create the program it thought best. Relations with schools both in the suburbs and in the city system were so cordial that experiences with children and with varied schools were included as part of every major professional course. Student morale was high, and faculty morale was high. As one of the professors commented: "We have the best teacher education program in the country. If you don't think so, ask us."

Yet life was not perfect. Students returned from the schools with accounts of good teaching and bad. They related some horrible examples of teachers who violated every one of the principles discussed in seminars. At first, even these reports were encouraging because they indicated how much the schools needed the kind of new teachers this college was preparing. Then came a bombshell. Some of the teachers the students were describing were products of their program!


This incident is not unique, for every college has seen some of its graduates mature into superb teachers while others quickly slough off whatever they have gained while preparing to teach. Walter Cook found marked changes between the attitudes of beginning students in teacher education programs and those of seniors. Within a short time after graduation, however, the attitudes reverted to what they were at the beginning.

What happens to these young, enthusiastic, ambitious teachers after only a few years in the classroom? It is easy enough to blame the schools for crushing the new teacher. It is just as easy to blame the colleges for an unrealistic teacher education program. As educators, however, we have little interest in the grand jury's problem of whom to indict. What concerns us is the more constructive question of how best to correct the situation.

When educating for a profession, should we focus the preparation upon the first job that a recent graduate is likely to get or upon preparation for a lifetime professional career? Professional men and women must be prepared adequately for beginning their career, but they must also be prepared to keep growing. In teacher education, we have moved from the normal school's preoccupation with the first job to the college's emphasis upon preparation for a professional career. Is it possible that we are paying too little attention to the demands of the first job?

However greatly we may decry it, we cannot ignore the fact that many new teachers will have their first teaching appointment in an inner-city school with children who present serious educational and social problems. Educators may well envy other professions which reserve the most serious problems for the most experienced and the ablest practitioners; but the fact is that teachers are appointed to fill vacancies, and there are more vacancies in schools that have serious problems than there are in the so-called better schools.

Today's teachers need and get a liberal education far richer than that offered in any of yesteryear's normal schools. Yet these normal schools performed a function, albeit a narrow one, effectively. A normal school graduate could take charge of a class the first day after graduation and take charge competently. Granted that today's new teacher faces more complicated problems, he must nevertheless also be prepared thoroughly for the first year of teaching.

This is no plea for the restoration of the normal school, but our colleges must pay more attention to preparation for the first year of teaching. To be sure, teachers must be prepared as professional educators rather than trained narrowly as competent beginning teachers. It is also true, however, that a teacher who is prepared for a professional career, but who cannot survive his first year of teaching, does not stay long enough to become a professional teacher.

It is at this point that it becomes apparent that our concept of preservice education is outdated. At present, the preparation of the teacher up to the time of appointment is very largely the concern of the college, with the school system playing a minor role. Once the recent graduate is appointed, however, he becomes a full-fledged member of the school system, with the college playing, at best, only a secondary role and often none at all. Much will be gained if the schools and the colleges work together in the preparation of a prospective teacher and continue this cooperation up to the point of tenure.


The colleges may be right in refusing to instruct future teachers in some of the outdated practices still used in the schools, but they may be underestimating the difficulties which young teachers experience in trying to change existing practices. The problem may not be that of realistic or unrealistic preparation, but rather of the difficulty of translating an idea into practice. If the teacher education program were to continue through the teacher's probationary period of appointment, the newly appointed teacher could be helped to find ways of dealing with his current difficulties without necessarily sacrificing all hope of changing current procedures. Similarly, if the new teacher has continued support and guidance in his period of transition from novice to professional, he may be helped to solve his difficulties without either feeling frustrated or having to sacrifice his idealism for a dreary surrender to "reality."

That some young teachers are able to solve their problems and maintain their faith in themselves, in education, and in their students may be attributable to their inventiveness, adjustability, and idealism. No system of mass education can rely on such unusual successes by unusual teachers. If the unusual is to become the usual, we have to see the first years of teaching as part of the process of learning to become a teacher.

Many colleges and school systems now recognize the importance of preparing urban teachers more adequately for their responsibilities. According to the results of a survey conducted recently by AACTE, more than 200 institutions are either presently conducting programs specifically designed to prepare teachers for urban schools or are planning to introduce such programs. Given such an effort, how can we develop in our prospective teachers the skills, the insight, the sense of social need, and the self-confidence that are essential for successful teaching in urban schools? To a degree, these are the same qualities that are needed by any successful beginning teacher. They must be developed to a high degree, indeed, in a beginning urban teacher because the problems are overwhelming for those who are less than adequately prepared intellectually, professionally, and emotionally.


The pattern of teacher education proposed here is one answer to these questions. Taken as a whole, it is different from any now in use, but many of its elements have been tried by various institutions and schools. It is based on ten assumptions.

1. No teacher education program can be effective without close cooperation of schools and colleges. The school room and not the college is the place where teachers learn most about how to teach, but teaching is more than a craft to be mastered through an apprenticeship.

2. The education of a new teacher is not completed on Commencement Day, regardless of whether the degree is a bachelor's or a master's. The first years of teaching are of critical importance in influencing professional development and should be included in a program of pre-tenure teacher education. Schools and colleges should work together with the teacher during his first years of teaching so that he may not only become more competent and skillful but also develop the background and the attitudes necessary for a member of the teaching profession.

3. Teachers should be prepared for educational change, for participating in deciding which educational changes should occur, and in helping to effect them.

4. Individual differences in abilities, interests, and background are as important among prospective teachers and teachers as they are among elementary and secondary school students. The teacher education program and the requirements for certification should be sufficiently flexible to allow for such variations. Classroom teachers also vary in ability, and we should provide opportunities for advancement that keep superior teachers in the classroom.

5. Certification as a teacher should be granted only after completion of a full program of teacher education and not on the basis of the completion of specified courses or of a specified number of credits in teacher education. This program, in turn, should be sufficiently flexible to allow for varying rates of progress in completing the program, with students' being credited for what they have learned outside of class and outside of college, and with students' being advanced from one level of preparation to the next in terms of their ability and not in a lock-step based solely on the lapse of time.

6. Attending classes is only one of many ways of learning, and prospective teachers can learn a great deal from directed reading and independent study, from working with children and schools, and from their own past experiences. These should be recognized by the college and by the certifying authorities.

7. Teaching is so complex a skill that careful gradation of learning experiences is important. The responsibilities entrusted to prospective teachers and beginning teachers should, therefore, be proportionate to their ability to assume these responsibilities. Moreover, the prospective teacher's performance in the classroom as school aide, assistant teacher, and intern offers a valid basis for determining whether he should be permitted to continue his program in teacher education.

8. Supervisors of assistant teachers and interns should be selected in terms of their expertness as classroom teachers and their ability to help prospective teachers and beginning teachers rather than on the basis of their graduate degrees and excellence as productive scholars. Teacher education programs should take advantage of the insight and skill of experienced classroom teachers.

9. Members of the college faculty who have a doctorate should carry the responsibility for those aspects of the teacher education program in which the advanced study leading to the doctorate is essential. It is wasteful to use such people to perform duties that can be discharged effectively by others.

10. Students who perform useful service in the schools as part of the teacher education program should be paid for their services, but no student should receive an honorarium solely for being a prospective teacher.


If present trends continue, virtually all of our new teachers will be either undergraduate students at a liberal arts college or graduates of such institutions. Within this framework, how can we prepare better urban teachers?

The goal for the initial phases of teacher education should be the relatively modest one of preparing good beginning teachers who will know what to do, how to do it, and why.

The college program should include courses in urban sociology, cultural anthropology, and psychology, for learning is affected by both social and psychological factors.

Because teachers must be able to write and speak correctly and effectively, intensive courses in composition and in speech should be included when necessary.

Undergraduate students who wish to complete their college program within four years and yet be prepared to teach should be required to attend at least one summer session in order to fulfill the requirements for the degree.

The time which a student spends in the schools should be included in his college program so that he will not have to slight either his college or his school duties.

By serving in the schools, the student has a first-hand basis for deciding whether he really wants to prepare for teaching and should be permitted at the end of any semester to withdraw from the program without penalty. The college and the school, on the other hand, also have in the student's school service a sound basis for judging his competence as a teacher and for determining whether or not he should be permitted to continue in the teacher education program.

There need be no change in the total number of credits assigned to education courses but major courses should be planned in large blocks of credits so that adjustments can be made within a course without the academic rituals that go with expanding or contracting any activity conducted by the department.

The first education course should deal with Urban Education: Its Problems, Practices, and Opportunities. Based on the student's background in urban sociology, cultural anthropology, and psychology, it should help him to see the fallacies of the common stereotypes of "the culturally deprived child" and the "slum school."

While enrolled in this course, the student should serve as a community service aide in a social agency and as a school aide, being paid for his school service at an appropriate rate.


The existing courses in psychological foundations and in curriculum and methods should be replaced by a two-semester course, taught if necessary by a team of college teachers, dealing with the applications of psychology to methods of teaching. For this course to deal adequately with all that students must know, greater reliance than is now customary will have to be placed upon guided reading and independent study.

While enrolled in this course, the student should be appointed by the school system as an assistant teacher, assigned to a specially selected classroom teacher for three hours a day and receiving one-fourth of the salary of a beginning teacher. He should assist the teacher with the clerical and teaching responsibilities and should get experience in working with individuals, groups, and the class as a whole.

The teacher to whom the assistant teacher is assigned should be selected by the school and the college, receiving his regular salary from the school system and an additional fee from the college.

Members of the college faculty should work with these classroom teachers in order to help them be more effective in working with their assistant teachers.

Assistant teachers who are so competent that they are ready to become interns at the end of their first semester should be appointed as interns instead of being compelled to serve a full year as assistant teachers. Whether they take the second half of their combined psychology-methods course or be excused from it should depend upon their achievements and needs.

Upon completion of their service as assistant teachers, students should be appointed as interns and assigned full time to a school under the direction of a supervising classroom teacher who is selected and paid by both school and college. Interns should assume only half the teaching responsibilities of a regular teacher and receive half the salary of a beginning teacher.

All interns and all teachers in their first year of full-time teaching should take a college course concerned with such classroom problems as methods of teaching, class management, and discipline as they arise from direct experience. This course should be taught by a person in close touch with the schools who can deal constructively with the problems presented. The instructor may be a member of the college faculty or of the school staff.

Interns who demonstrate after only one semester that they are ready for the full responsibilities of teaching should be appointed as regular teachers instead of completing a year of internship.

When interns are appointed to a regular position, they should be paid at the second step of the salary schedule in recognition of their service as school aides, assistant teachers, and interns.

College graduates who have not been prepared to teach should be welcomed as a promising source of future teachers if they have the intellectual and personal qualities essential for teaching. Because they are such a heterogeneous group, they will need programs tailored to fit their varied abilities and needs. Some will come with great assets gained from service in the Peace Corps, from active participation in programs dealing with urban problems, or from teaching experience in a non-school setting. Some will need academic courses to bring their subject matter background up to date. But others may bring the negative attitudes of those who have failed in previous jobs and see teaching as a solution to their own problems rather than as a career for which they wish to prepare.

If the college graduate needs to take courses to improve his background for teaching, he should be appointed as a school aide and paid for his services.

As soon as the college graduate demonstrates that he is ready, he should be appointed and paid as an assistant teacher as described above and take the psychology-methods course along with the other assistant teachers.

Upon completion of his service as an assistant teacher, he should be appointed and paid as an intern, taking the classroom problems course.

College graduates who demonstrate such competence in the classroom as to indicate that they do not need a full year as an assistant teacher or as an intern should be permitted to meet each requirement in a semester.

Upon completion of the internship, college graduates should be appointed as regular teachers on the second step of the salary schedule.


All newly appointed teachers should be enrolled in a program of graduate studies and in-service education planned jointly by the institution in which they have matriculated and by the school system that employs them. Their professional education should help them through the trying first years and bring them to eligibility for a tenure appointment as fully prepared teachers.

The master's degree program should be flexible enough to be adjusted to the individual teacher. It should enrich subject-matter mastery and include both advanced courses in his special field and more general courses needed to fill gaps in his academic background. It should deal with the problems faced by classroom teachers, but on a higher level of conceptualization than was possible in the course planned for interns and beginning teachers. Graduate courses in education should broaden the teacher's point of view (e.g., comparative education), deepen the teacher's insight into the educational process (e.g., new curricular procedures), and improve the teacher's skill (e.g., teaching the non-reader).

Whether in-service courses offered by the school system or specifically requested by it should receive graduate credit should be determined by their level and scope and not by their sponsorship. To earn graduate credit, the course must go beyond the immediate situation, however serious that situation may be, and rise above the how-to-do-it-better level, regardless of how great the need for increasing teacher competence. These considerations should not stop the school system from conducting in-service activities, when necessary, without graduate course credit.

Because graduate study is demanding and teaching is demanding, full-time teachers should not be permitted to enroll in more than one course in any semester. Teachers should be encouraged to spend either a semester or two summer sessions as full-time resident students at their university.

The school system and the college should jointly establish Teacher Education Centers in the public schools in a cooperative experiment in the improvement of elementary and secondary education.

These centers should be operated as regular elementary and secondary schools and should be staffed by administrators and teachers jointly selected by the school and the university because of their professional ability and their demonstrated interest in working with prospective teachers and beginning teachers.

The staff of the Teacher Education Center should be appointed adjunct members of the university faculty. They should have the opportunity to broaden their professional background by visiting other schools and by participating in some of the professional meetings and other activities of a college faculty.

Members of the university faculty, from other departments as well as teacher education, should be actively involved in the Teacher Education Centers in order to help them see what colleges can do in both liberal arts and professional courses to prepare the teacher for meeting his responsibilities. They may be assigned to a teaching responsibility or to working with the school faculty on a major project like the reorganization of the school's mathematics program.


While it is possible to adopt the proposed pattern of service as school aide, assistant teacher, and intern as preparation for teaching without paying for such service, there are reasons for such remuneration in addition to the principle that people should be paid for professional services rendered.

For undergraduates, the program entails a considerable financial loss. Not only will they have to spend at least one summer and possibly two summers at college if they are to get their degrees within four yearsand forego the possibility of earning money during these summer sessionsbut the additional time spent in school service during the junior and senior years will make it impossible for them to have any part-time employment during that period. While they are serving as interns, moreover, they will receive only half-pay rather than the full salary which other new teachers get when they are appointed. Since the school service rendered by these prospective teachers not only prepares them to be more effective teachers in urban schools but also improves the quality of the education which children receive, it is unfair to expect the student to subsidize this service personally.

We take too little advantage of the educational opportunities presented by students' part-time employment. Why not use their part-time jobs as a way of helping the student to sample a career before spending years preparing for it? Why not use these jobs as a way of preparing for a career? Why not take advantage of part-time employment as a means of recruiting the teachers we need?

We have not recruited enough college graduates for teaching. We have research evidence that college graduates who are in the thirties or forties and who are adequately prepared for teaching have a better rate of retention in the schools than have undergraduates with equal preparation for teaching. It is difficult to recruit adults for teaching, however, if they have to undergo a time-consuming period of preparation without remuneration and then have only the modest salaries of teachers to which to look forward. Adults are likely to be eager to get into the classroom and start working and earning a salary, and are just as likely to be impatient with a required series of college courses that stand between them and the job they think they are ready to accept.

There is also a possibility that preparation for teaching may become increasingly a post-baccalaureate program. Recruiting students for such programs will be difficult because we shall not be able to offer our graduates as great a proportion of assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships as is available to those going into other graduate programs. Why should a college graduate enroll in a program leading to the teaching of science when he is more likely to be aided financially if he takes his graduate work in science and then goes into industry rather than to the high schools? Payment for subprofessional services in the schools may be a feasible substitute for the scholarship grants that would otherwise be needed in large numbers.

The very rate of payment underlines its being remuneration for services rather than a scholarship grant. It is assumed that both assistant teachers and interns will be learning half the time and serving the schools half the time. Since assistant teachers are in schools for half a day, they are paid for only half their time, or at the rate of one-fourth of the beginning teacher's salary (1/2 of 1/2 or 1/4). Similarly, interns who are in school for a full day receive only half the salary of a newly appointed teacher.


There are other values, too, in having the students paid for their services. City superintendents complain that the reason they do not get enough new teachers is that the colleges present the city schools in a poor light. What better way is there of correcting a false image, if it is a false image, than by letting the students work in the schools as paid members of the staff? Having the school system responsible for these payments will also impress upon the school officials their stake in the selection and preparation of prospective teachers.

All in all, there is so much to be said in favor of paying school aides, assistant teachers, and interns that funds must be found to make such payment possible. To be sure, urban schools face serious financial difficulties and cannot be expected to look kindly at any proposal that increases operating costs. But good education is expensive, and there are no cheap ways either of educating children or of preparing their teachers.

The only reason for not paying students for service as community service aides is the difficulty of finding legal ways of financing. Clearly, the colleges cannot pay students for aiding community agencies, and schools cannot pay people for service in outside agencies. Since most philanthropic organizations operate on a narrow margin, it is unlikely that they can employ additional student assistants. Of course, the arguments that apply for payment for school services are equally valid for the agency work that students do. Unfortunately, realism compels one to admit that these services will probably continue to be rendered on a voluntary, unpaid basis for some years to come.

Aside from financial problems, a major weakness of the general proposal is that it does not go far enough. It seems to stop when tenure is granted as though that were the end of teacher education. Clearly, teachers on tenure must continue to grow if they are to survive as professional people. What such a program of in-service education should be, which activities it should include, and what the roles of the college and the school system should be in planning and conducting it are questions that deserve as full a discussion as does the preparation of the teacher up to the point of tenure. These questions have not been dealt with here, but they are too important to be ignored.

Neither has enough been said about the liberal arts background of the teacher, even though the teacher obviously needs to be both broadly educated and educated in depth in his area of specialization. Inasmuch as the proposed professional program could be adopted in colleges which have widely different liberal arts programs, it would be unnecessarily restrictive to base it upon a single pattern of liberal arts education. Of course, my failure to deal with needed changes in the liberal arts programs may reflect timidity. But it will be difficult enough to change the professional part of the teacher education program without trying to revolutionize the entire college at the same time.

Certainly the conditions in the schools play an important part in determining whether thoroughly prepared teachers will stay or whether they will either resign or seek appointment elsewhere. Rather than yield to the temptation of telling the superintendent how the schools should be run, we shall have to leave to the superintendents and the other school administrators the responsibility for seeing that their schools offer teachers sufficient stimulation and satisfaction. With so many schools looking for good teachers, a thoroughly competent teacher will not stay in a school that is unsatisfying.

In some ways, this program is bound to make teaching in an urban school more attractive. Teachers who are better prepared for urban teaching should find it more satisfying and less frustrating. The program provides for the appointment of school aides who can relieve the teacher of many chores that do not require the services of a professional teacher. It includes the use of assistant teachers who can help the classroom teacher in teaching individual pupils and in providing the supplemental instructional services for which the classroom teacher now has neither the time nor the energy. By offering classroom teachers an avenue of recognition and reward without leaving the classroom, it helps retain able and experienced classroom teachers. More, however, needs to be done, and it is the superintendent and the rest of the school personnel who must decide what to do and how to do it.


It is to be expected that colleges will be reluctant to assign to classroom teachers so large a share of the responsibility for working with their students. In a sense, the colleges really have no choice. With the increased numbers of students going to college and the shortage of people with the doctorate who can be appointed to college faculties, the colleges will find themselves under increasing pressure to raid the schools in the search for college faculty. Does it not make more sense to use college professors primarily for those responsibilities which demand the doctorate? Thus, college professors, with their broader background, are more likely to know about new developments in education and about promising practices used in schools in various parts of the nation and abroad than is a classroom teacher in a specific elementary or secondary school. But the college professor, who is necessarily limited in the number of times he can observe each student, cannot be as helpful in aiding the novice teacher in his immediate problems as is a competent classroom teacher who is there all day every day.

The proposal does not abandon college students to the schools and it does not eliminate the influence of the college professor, for new teachers need his help. Even a good classroom teacher may overemphasize the importance of imitating his own procedures, for he is often unable to analyze his own teaching style, let alone that of another person. We need the college person to keep service as an assistant teacher or intern from becoming merely a trade apprenticeship.


In this proposed pattern,1 college faculty will work closely with the master teachers. An important by-product of this relationship is that the classroom teacher who is associated with the college in working with student aides, assistant teachers, and interns has a stimulating avenue of in-service education open to him. These contacts should help the classroom teacher to broaden his own outlook on teaching as he profits from the wider experience of the college faculty member with whom he works. Moreover, the recognition that the classroom teacher receives when he is invited to participate in such a program of teacher education is important psychic income that has significant morale-building value.

While debates serve many useful purposes, they should not be the basis for determining whether we should change our programs for preparing teachers. No program should be accepted because it is presented persuasively, and none should be rejected because of inexpert presentation. If the problem is as serious as that of finding better ways of preparing the teachers we need for our new immigrants, any promising proposal should be tried out and evaluated. We have sufficient research sophistication to know how to evaluate a program that has been tried out experimentally.

Such an experimental try-out is not without its dangers. This is an era of crash programs and pilot projects. Unfortunately, however, many crash programs are not followed through after the publicity has worn off. And many pilot programs lead only to a publication and not to the extension of innovative work that has proved to be successful.

Because our new immigrants need good teachers so desperately, I hope we shall find the means of testing the proposed program. Then we shall know whether to reject it, modify it, or make it our new pattern for enabling urban schools to serve our new immigrants and their longer established fellow citizens.


SOMEBODY OUGHT TO SAY IT, and since we share the general enthusiasm for the film, we might just as well be the ones to name the cinema's new emperor as naked: Mary Poppins is totally without significance. Its story line is all but nonexistent; its flimsy sentimentality is redeemed only by the fact that its characterizations are so thin that its tone is irrelevant, and there isn't an idea in the entire show. Vaguely reminiscent of Mary Martin's Peter Pan, which dealt in an artistically sinewy and realistic fashion with the resistance many children have to growing up, Mary Poppins hardly entails a theme at all, let alone one invested with an underlying seriousness that adds depth to its comic charm.

But having made this basic point, we leap willingly and eagerly on the crowded bandwagon of the movie's endorsers. What an utterly delightful entertainment Mary Poppins is! Part of its quality stems directly from Julie Andrews's charismatic performance as Mary; few actresses could make so much out of such an inherently slight role. Part of it grows out of Dick Van Dyke's surprisingly original and versatile song-and-dance routines. Still more comes from the gracious and curiously unselfconscious portrayals of the two children, who are the ones who basically command our suspension of disbelief. And much more of the film's success must be attributed to Walt Disney's sheer artistry with a camera. In spite of lapses from taste in the mixing of animated with live characters, a device which never comes off effectively, Mary Poppins is an unqualified pleasure because its method is inherently and entirely cinematic. If its special effects are spectacular, its camera angles, use of differential focus, and scenic conceptions all reflect the highest reaches of the movie man's imagination and skill and are unconfused with either literary values or the art of still portraiture. Even if the color were not so stunning, the picture would be lovely; with hues and color tones also used with great sensitivity, it is a genuine source of uninhibited enjoyment.

But the real secret of Mary Poppins is that it is old-fashioned vaudeville transformed by the camera. The pleasures of vaudeville derived essentially from the skill of its miscellany of performers and from the fact that it was both unbelievable and insignificant; that is, it carried the audience quite outside the workaday world for a couple of hours of recreation and surcease in the pure entertainment of songs, dances, and jokes. Mary Poppins does the same thing, employing in an unabashed way essentially the same contrived or irrelevant transitions and the same emphasis on the power of music, dance, and a comic version of stage magic. But with Disney controlling the camera, the song-and-dance numbers acquire new depth and visual impact witness the marvelous dance of the chimney-sweeps on London rooftops and the backgrounds add touches of whimsy or authentic beauty that prototypical vaudeville could never attain and never aspired to. In short, here is an old theatrical tradition, perfectly adapted to the movie-maker's very special skills and bolstered by splendid performances, especially the one for which Miss Andrews quite properly won an Academy award. It's entertainment of the highest order, and we could use much more of it.

If we turn from the movies to television, the news is dismal. This month sees the final version of This Was the Week That Was, the satirical show that has added bite and meaningfulness to this year's pallid TV fare. A sorry Nielson rating is the reason given for the program's discontinuance, but it is a frightful commentary on commercial television and a worse one on watchers of the boob-tube if every hour must be jammed with Peyton Place or Lawrence Welk. One can sympathize readily with the financial requirements of stations, networks, and sponsors and still question the wisdom of programing only by "popularity." The merits of the Nielson system have been sharply questioned on purely statistical grounds, and so far as we have been able to find out, there is no evidence that the number of viewers is an accurate index of the extent to which a sponsor's products are bought through the impact of his advertising. When something as topical, provocative, and witty as TW3 goes off the air, it is high time that the broadcasters reexamined their policies and the sponsors their criteria for investment. It is conceivable that, on their own terms, they may be right, but it isn't clear on a priori grounds that they are. Classroom investigations of the relevant issues, including the nature of the Nielson ratings, could go a long way toward creating a more comprehending TV audience and toward increasing the sensitivity of the networks to viewers as well as to sponsor-advertisers.

Happily, neither Nielson ratings nor sponsors are relevant to The Classroom Revolution, a set of materials devised by the Guidance Associates of Pleasantville, New York, for briefly but effectively acquainting a wide range of people with new developments in education all over America. Basically a two-part sound film-strip, The Classroom Revolution is based on the booklet prepared by Miss Terry Ferrer, the education editor of the New York Herald-Tribune, and consists of the booklet, two brief filmstrips, and two LP records. Its purpose is to provoke informed discussion of such issues as the new mathematics, language laboratories, team teaching, ungraded schools, closed-circuit television, etc. Without overselling these new procedures and ideas, it provides a surprising amount of information and raises precisely the right questions to make consideration by school board members, PTA groups, and representatives of the community at large maximally fruitful. It is also highly useful for the in-service stimulation of teaching staffs.

Because of its carefully accurate and balanced yet forceful presentation, The Classroom Revolution last month won first prize for filmstrips in the social studies at the American Film Festival held in New York City. The award was given by the American Film Library Association, a fact which attests to the AFLA's discernment. Like Miss Ferrer's booklet, these filmstrips should be given wide community currency by educators as an effective elicitor of discussion and further study in local communities.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 66 Number 8, 1965, p. 707-718
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 2464, Date Accessed: 10/16/2021 7:15:40 AM

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