The Foundations of Preparing Teachers: Are Education Schools Really “Intellectually Barren” and Ideological?
by Dan W. Butin - July 27, 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 1,400 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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