U.S. Secretary of Education spoke with Andrea Mitchell Friday about new teacher-education regulations that the U.S. Department of Education is preparing for a set of federal financial supports for teacher preparation programs. Most of the verbiage that you will read and hear will focus on tracking the impact of program graduates on K-12 student learning, a focus on outcomes. As Rutgers professor Bruce Baker noted on Friday, there was also an odd rhetorical tic in the middle of Duncan’s interview with Mitchell. Duncan said something that he, Arthur Levine, and others have claimed repeatedly in the past:
Mitchell: You want to see them in classrooms more, actually in classes doing work as part of their training?
Duncan: You can, absolutely. That’s the crux, that’s it, Andrea. So many schools of education [require] lots of history of education, philosophy of education, psychology of education, not enough teaching 28 or 30 diverse children in a classroom. Again, that practical, clinical experience is so important. [emphasis added; this portion starts around 2 minutes into the clip]
Apparently, Arne Duncan and I live in different universes. In Arne Duncan’s universe, teacher education is dominated by courses in theory and social/cultural foundations of education. In my universe, any specific undergraduate requirements for philosophy or history of education courses disappeared roughly a generation ago, there has not been a single tenure-track job posting this year specifically for an historian of education in any college of education in the country, and very few jobs exist for anyone in social or cultural foundations of education. Arne Duncan’s universe may not be the best world for pre-service teacher education, but apparently it’s great for historians and philosophers of education. My reality is different, and it’s based on a simple question: If historians and philosophers really controlled teacher education, where are the jobs for us? Arne Duncan’s remark is not based in the world where I work. It’s a rhetorical tic, and it is an example of the barriers to talking sensibly about teacher education. Continue reading “Theory tic complaints about teacher ed”