Reforming Teacher Education
Goodlad says preparation of teachers should be a 'moral enterprise'
SEATTLE — SCHOOL reform hasn't coincided with the reform of teacher education in a century.
"It's a natural connection, but the linkage just hasn't been there," says John I. Goodlad, a professor of education at the University of Washington here.
As an active reformer and scholar of teacher education, Professor Goodlad is optimistic about the possibility of linking the reform of education and teacher preparation this time around.
After the publication of his book "Teachers for Our Nation's Schools" in 1990, Goodlad and his colleagues put out an invitation to teacher-training institutions nation- wide. The original goal was to have six to eight pilot sites implement the 19 "postulates" or conditions for effective teacher education called for in the book.
But the flood of inquiries prompted Goodlad and his colleagues to rethink their plan. About 280 schools - more than a fifth of all teacher-preparation programs in the United States - inquired about the project.
"We were absolutely dumbfounded by the response," Goodlad says. "There had been a fair amount of indication that the deans of education, in particular, wanted to pull their wagons in a circle and resist attack. And there was some of that, but it didn't last long."
The project now includes 12 sites ranging from a small liberal-arts college to large public universities and regional schools. A newsletter and periodic conferences help keep other interested parties up to date on the project.
"We will retain 12 [sites] until at least the spring of '93," Goodlad says. "Twelve is quite enough for us to deal with at the present time."
The expectation is that it will take most of the decade to bring these teacher-preparation programs up to the level Goodlad calls for in his book.
Part-time consultants are providing support to each of the schools in the project. "They're really the guinea pigs," Goodlad says. "We're figuring out what has to happen with state policy, what kind of problems they run into internally and collaboratively. And we're hoping that we'll get a handle on what these problems are."
The goal is for each institution to create "centers of pedagogy" with faculty drawn from the school of education, the college of arts and sciences, and area public schools.
Teacher-education students will work as interns at public schools that are jointly operated by the university and the local school district. Goodlad is calling for a new level of partnership between teacher educators and school districts.
Collaboration between a couple of professors and local schools has gone on "since the beginning of time," he says. "That's not what we're talking about. They're not doing it as a true marriage; they're doing it more as noblesse oblige, the universities will help these downtrodden schools. So it turns out to be a whole bunch of projects rather than building a common agenda that involves change on both sides."
How that change comes about will be unique to each location. "To go in and say, 'All right this is what you're going to do,' is to violate what we're about," Goodlad says. "These places have to go through wrenching internal processes, and those can only proceed so fast."
Part of the problem is that school districts continue hiring graduates of inadequate teacher-training programs. "Much of what we're trying to do is get them talking," Goodlad says of school districts and teacher educators. "The preparation programs for teachers are magnificently organized to maintain the status quo."
Breaking that status quo requires an organized assault. "We've got to create a critical mass that gets enough attention, and enough support, and enough encouragement for other people to say that changing is the only way to survive," Goodlad says.
This, in part, explains why Goodlad chose not to concentrate his efforts on just one teacher-training program. "We can't risk having one deviant place smothered by the conformity of the whole," he says.
One of the first hurdles is overcoming the persistent low prestige of teaching. "If teaching is a low-status occupation," Goodlad says, "then preparing people for that low-status occupation is a low-status activity."
But he defines the preparation of teachers as a "moral enterprise" and calls on colleges and universities to view the education of teachers as a "major responsibility to society."
Currently, most professors of arts and sciences don't consider themselves responsible for educating future teachers, Goodlad says. "It can't just be the schools of education that educate teachers, but unfortunately that's what it has become."
The challenge is to convince the arts and science faculty to participate in the teacher-training process. And the low-prestige factor makes this even more difficult.
"I don't think the college of education on the average university campus is in a good position to recruit those arts and science people because they lack status on the campus," Goodlad says.
Building status and creating change will take time. But Goodlad is heartened by the current level of interest. "It's a slow process," he says. "You give it a shove and then you try to develop a lot of other people who will go on shoving it."