By John I. Goodlad
TEACHER EDUCATION has been a neglected enterprise suffering increasingly from status
deprivation. Some colleges of education found it prudent to downplay their teacher
education role in seeking status through identification with the research criteria
of the arts and sciences. Many eschewed pre-service, undergraduate teacher preparation
entirely in moving exclusively to graduate status.
The top-ranked schools of education in the Cartter Report of 1977 prepared only
a handful of teachers or none at all. Since each of these is housed in a major, research-oriented
university, an observer might conclude that there is no dwelling place for teacher
education in the most prestigious mansions of higher education.
My primary assumption in what follows is that higher education has a moral responsibility
to provide leadership in ensuring well-educated teachers for the nation's schools.
Deliberately eschewing teacher education rather than elevating it to a position of
high priority is, in my book, a mark of shame rather than of prestige.
The absence of teaching as a career choice among freshmen overwhelmingly choosing
medicine, law and business in our most distinguished universities accounts for only
a blip in the statistics on the supply side of need. But the message to institutions
not in the top research and doctoral categories of the Carnegie classification of
institutions of higher education is akin to a blast of cold Arctic air, especially
to those state colleges and universities specifically charged with the function of
preparing teachers: If teacher education is not good enough for flagship universities,
why is it good enough for us?
Suddenly, however, teacher education has been discovered in the policy arena and
linked significantly to school reform. With fifteen years of public attention to
school reform steadily expanding to include higher education and the teacher education
function traditionally attached to it, little foresight is required to envision the
pressure of policymakers descending on state colleges and universities.
The choices of the past in regard to institutional stance in the domain of teacher
education are narrowing down to just three, the first of which probably is untenable:
opt out, comply, or assume moral and programmatic leadership.
A National Network of School-University Partnerships
There exists today in the United States a rather unusual educational improvement
initiative named the National Network for Educational Renewal (NNER). The NNER's
agenda -- the Agenda for Education in a Democracy -- guides the efforts of educators
in thirty-three colleges and universities, more than one hundred school districts
and more than five hundred schools joined in partnership for the simultaneous renewal
of schooling and the education of educators. Three of these partnerships educate
more than half of the teachers produced in their respective states each year, in
programs quite different from those in place just a few years ago.
One of the most remarkable features is that key leaders in these settings made
a voluntary choice. The impetus for change was not derived from state mandates with
their carrots, sticks and other external prods for change. The settings of the NNER
are doing what they are doing for the best of reasons: They want to.
The agenda's three parts -- mission, conditions necessary to the mission, and
strategies for implementation -- present a daunting challenge.
The four-part mission sets for teachers and teacher educators enculturation of
the school-age population in a social and political democracy, comprehensive introduction
of the young to the human conversation, the exercise of caring pedagogy, and the
moral stewardship of schools and teacher education programs. The necessary conditions
to be established for the conduct of this mission number at least sixty, contained
in nineteen reasoned propositions or postulates. The strategies call for symbiotic
partnerships between schools and institutions of higher education, which in turn
bring to the collaboration professors from both colleges of education and departments
of the arts and sciences.
Intensive immersion of key actors from all three groups in the agenda through
a yearlong leadership program, an annual meeting of participants, setting-to-setting
networking, and the wonders of modern electronic communications have combined to
produce the psychic energy and synergy necessary to individual and institutional
Lacking the common agenda, it is unlikely that the three long-separated cultures,
each with a piece of the curriculum, would have come together in partnership to put
the programmatic pieces together in a reasonably coherent mission-driven whole.
To claim victory and task accomplished would be both playing with the truth and
a grievous mistake. It must be remembered that this is not the customary agenda of
topics or tasks to be addressed in the normal course of doing business in a relatively
well-understood, stable enterprise. It is an agenda of mission in an essentially
moral endeavor where there is little present public agreement. It is an agenda to
be taken on only after careful deliberation. And it is an agenda of symbiotic consequence
in that the price of satisfying self-interest is that of satisfying the interests
A Sea-Change in Expectations for Teacher Education
Once upon a time, not long ago, colleges and universities routinely received from
the state a set of requirements for the preparation of teachers. These were changed
every few years, and each year the legislature mandated additional requirements such
as a course in audiovisual education or substance abuse. Accreditation by the National
Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) was an option.
The mandates were sufficiently intrusive to create periodic internal roilings
on the part of campus committees on teacher education responsible for compliance.
However, with the school, college or department of education (SCDE) the designated
unit for accountability, campus life was little affected.
Except in those small colleges where the education of teachers represented the
major curricular and budgetary commitments, neither the chief academic officers nor
the chairs of the arts and sciences departments were very much involved in any of
this. And the faculty were in the enviable role of being able to gripe about both
the impositions and the "Mickey Mouse" courses perceived to come with them.
A profound sea-change is becoming apparent. The relatively mild waves of intrusion
that lapped on the shores of academe are picking up into white-capped breakers. Although
the rise has caught the attention of many campus administrators, many faculty members
have simply blocked out the noise with earplugs. Disappointing performance by teachers
and prospective teachers on tests addressed primarily to the subject matters of general
education imply a deeper malaise and a much wider university responsibility.
Troublesome questions arise.
Assuming that we want all teachers to be both well-educated citizens and well-prepared
in the subject matters of their teaching, do the present curricular offerings and
the guidance of students in making selections ensure such outcomes?
Assuming that teachers require grounding in certain subject matters in order to
advance the public mission of schooling in our democracy, how is such to be ensured?
Assuming that future teachers need to learn certain subject matters twice -- once
for themselves and once more for the teaching of children or youths -- are the provisions
for integration adequate?
Assuming that some students should be directed away from teaching because of academic
and other shortcomings, are there policies and procedures that need to be changed,
such as those allowing access to all undergraduate programs once admitted to the
Given the relevance of these questions and many more of like relevance to the
concerns of those in public office regarding the quality of entering and practicing
teachers, the blinders and earplugs of denial and scapegoating must be quickly removed.
Unlike the compliance mechanisms of times past when accountability could readily
be delegated to the SCDE, a campus-wide response becomes the responsibility of any
college or university desiring to enter into or to continue in the preparation of
teachers for elementary and secondary schools.
The old order changeth, yielding place to new. The new is an order that catches
up in decision-making presidents, academic vice presidents, administrators and faculty
members in the arts and sciences and their counterparts in those schools and colleges
of education, health and physical education, the fine arts, and more that produce
Passive Compliance or Vigorous Leadership?
For most public colleges and universities, opting out of teacher education is not
a choice. It is reasonable to envision the board of regents of a state system such
as California State University or the State University of New York allocating responsibility
to most but not all of its campuses, given nearby availability of alternatives in
some regions served, or providing specialized programs in some but not others.
Given the fact that aspiring teachers come predominantly from nearby constituencies,
however, such decisions are sensitive. A legacy handed down from generation to generation
that seriously interferes with quality in teacher education is the notion that becoming
a teacher is virtually a right and that preparation programs should be handily nearby
and minimally demanding.
Putting aside the option of not offering a program, the available paths are passive
compliance or vigorous commission. It is not difficult to envision the consequences
of the former. What remains today of institutional autonomy in teacher education
will be given up to compliance: to a system of standards and testing accountability
abhorrent to academics that will be a likely extension of the current school reform
model. To assume that this model can be successfully confined to the realm of teacher
education and not sift into other elements of the campus infrastructure is to engage
in wishful dreaming.
While only some of the consequences of commission in regard to the conduct of
teacher education are predictable, for institutions of higher education that decide
to take the high road of commission and leadership, there is some good news. There
is now a sizeable domain of fundamental agreement on what needs to be done if teacher
education is to become a robust enterprise.
The 1996 report of the National Commission on Teaching & America's Future
mapped this terrain, drawing from the work of the Holmes Group, NNER, other improvement
ventures, and a body of research sufficient to rule out the need for a new comprehensive
study. This report carries with it a rare commodity: the clout of the policy genre
joined in agreement with specialists in the field.
The major elements of agreement are rapidly becoming part of the conventional
wisdom regarding the improvement of teacher education, although far from such in
practice. These include the necessity of school-university partnering, of commitment
and involvement as part of the normal activity of faculty members in the arts and
sciences, of partner or professional schools serving as "teaching" schools,
and of the need for these schools and the university campus components of teacher
education to renew together -- hence, the concept of simultaneous renewal guiding
the change strategy introduced into the NNER circa 1986 and subsequently adopted
by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the Holmes Partnership.
Not quite as widely articulated is considerable agreement on the need for top-level
leadership in both higher education and the Nó12 school system to elevate teacher
education as a priority.
The relatively modest implementation of these agreements is sufficient to reveal
the high road of institutional commitment to be fraught with difficulties little
envisioned in the recommendations of commissioned reports. The cultural differences
between schools and institutions of higher education are such that merely talking
together about common problems often is taken as a mark of success. When such conversation
then leads to serious partnering, the time and effort required to plan and effect
simultaneous renewal begins to separate the truly committed from those individuals
who find it necessary to effect discrete withdrawal.
Greater involvement in teacher education is readily perceived as one more burden.
For many professors in the arts and sciences, the preferred course is to regard participation
in the schools and in teacher education as a short-term service contribution before
the time consumed is shifted back to the teaching and research in the disciplines
that really matter.
Institutional leadership is challenged to maintain a stance of commission rather
than the omission that will result in mere compliance with state regulations.
The National Commission on Teaching & America's Future set as a goal a qualified,
caring, competent teacher for every child by 2006. Given the membership of the commission,
it is difficult to believe collective naivete of such magnitude that its members
talked themselves into believing in the attainability of this goal. Rather, it was
elevated to the masthead as a challenge to be worked toward.
There are two reasons, both familiar, for institutions of higher education to
join with partner schools in picking up the challenge. The first is practical to
the point of being efficient. Survival is at stake, as are the conditions of survival.
Mere survival, as evidenced by token compliance, is likely to be negatively viewed
in states' fiscal allocations. The second reason is a moral one: Exerting leadership
in designing programs that will attract and produce superb teachers for the nation's
schools is simply the right thing to do.
Lessons and Implications for Institutional Planning
In the minds of many would-be reformers, teacher education is in the quick-fix category.
At a conference of educational leaders several years ago, a state superintendent
of public instruction gave the back of his hand to complexity with the proposal that
"several of us sit down together over a weekend and come up with a plan for
taking care of this teacher education thing." There are others in positions
of power who come close to sharing such a view.
Like it or not, higher education does not enjoy a long time frame for determining
its stance, planning a course of action, and taking care of this teacher education
thing. There is now some experience from which lessons can be learned and time saved
without any loss of individual institutional identity and prerogatives.
Thoughtful inquiry into the history of teacher education, its neglect in the emergence
of the American university, and the recommendations for major change now gaining
attention provides some potentially useful lessons to guide institutions committed
to major improvement.
First, continuation of the myopic tendency of colleges and universities to look
at only their own role will spell doom. There must be a symbiotic partnership between
the two sets of institutions pursuing a common mission with both engaged in renewal.
Second, the time and work involved in creating and maintaining this partnership
for simultaneous renewal necessitates a continuous relationship somewhat akin to
that between a medical school and a hospital, except that several "teaching"
schools are needed.
Third, the more collaborative schools and universities become, and the more they
recognize their need for one another in seeking better teachers and better schools,
the more troublesome the mechanics of management will become. Such will call for
imaginative leadership in the creation of new organizational arrangements and perhaps
new settings such as the recommended center of pedagogy to handle a budget for the
whole of teacher education, determine governmental procedures, select partner schools,
ensure curricular renewal, and much more.
Fourth, whether it is adapted from elsewhere or created anew, there must be a
clear and common agenda of mission, conditions to be put in place, and designated
roles for the three groups of major participants. Given these necessary components,
the agenda will be complex and, consequently, a continuing source of conversation
regarding the meanings and implications of the messages it contains.
Fifth, the tenure of designated leaders in schools, school districts, colleges
and universities is markedly shorter than it was even a dozen years ago. Principals
of schools move on to larger schools or to superintendencies, academic vice presidents
move on to become presidents elsewhere. Consequently, change dependent on just a
few such designated leaders is hazardous. The message: Leadership must be widely
shared, which in turn means that preparation for leadership must be a built-in, continuing
The sixth lesson is directed specifically to the top leadership of colleges and
universities. From the late 1950s to the present, SCDEs responded, often reluctantly,
to the call for increased research productivity and publications. Many presidents,
academic vice presidents and provosts now are looking to, and becoming impatient
with, their SCDEs' not appearing to be moving fast enough to meet the sea-change
in expectations for higher education. These campus units could easily become the
scapegoats one more time.
What some of those administrators do not fully comprehend is that their SCDE may
now be staffed with those professors who adapted successfully to the research expectations
of the past several decades. The dean of education finds herself or himself in a
delicate, if not hazardous, position -- of persuading a faculty just recently praised
for their grant-getting and research productivity that greater attention to outreach
with special attention to teacher education and school improvement is now the name
of the approved game.
In my view, top-level campus administrators must take the lead in articulating
changing expectations. Furthermore, given the degree to which external pressures,
to be successfully met, call for responses that transcend the SCDE to embrace the
arts and sciences in particular, the leadership responsibility cannot successfully
be delegated to the dean of education. Nor can it be assumed successfully by the
central administration in the absence of serious effort to learn enough about teacher
education to make wise decisions.
A campus-by-campus perspective on higher education reveals the extent to which
progress has been uneven. Rarely have there been sufficient resources to develop
the whole at once. And so, the primary effort in one era has been directed to medicine,
in another to law, in another to engineering, and in still another to business.
The time is come -- long overdue -- to address an era of concentrated attention
to teacher education. The reasons are both practical and moral: practical because
the conditions of future survival are at stake; moral because it is the right thing
John I. Goodlad, former dean of the Graduate School of Education at UCLA, is currently
co-director of the Center for Educational Renewal at the University of Washington.
This article was adapted from his address to the annual meeting of chief academic
officers of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. The complete
address appears in the September-October issue of Change Magazine.