Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Bold Ideas for Improving Teacher Education and Teaching: What We See, Hear, and Think

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Bold Ideas for Improving Teacher Education and Teaching: What We See, Hear, and Think

Article excerpt

Teacher education has been struggling with the central challenge of preparing and retaining sufficient numbers of high-quality teachers who can work effectively with students from diverse cultural and racial backgrounds, especially in urban school contexts. As teacher educators, we work in an institution situated in the frontline of facing this challenge, where we have learned that bold ideas--fresh, creative, different, and empirically sound concepts, strategies, and perspectives--are crucial for understanding this challenge and developing useful solutions toward educational reform. As researchers with varying scholarly interests and from different research traditions, we also know that bold ideas are as crucial to the sustenance and development of scholarship in teacher education and teaching as they have been to the development of human knowledge (Kuhn, 1962).

Motivated by these common understandings, we invited experienced scholars working in different teacher education fields and research traditions to share their bold ideas drawn from personal understandings of their fields and research. As the new editorial team for the Journal of Teacher Education, we are pleased to publish these scholars' articles as our inaugural double issue, Bold Ideas for Improving Teacher Education and Teaching.

In this editorial, we editors divide the articles into five groups based on the bold ideas the authors propose and the connections among them. Certainly, many other groupings are possible, and we invite you to make other connections. We then discuss the articles based on what we see in reading them, the messages we hear them sending, and what we think about the arguments emerging from each. These groups are: (a) bold ideas for practice-focused transformation, (b) bold ideas for engagement in political struggle, (c) bold ideas for internally initiated changes, (d) bold ideas for learning to teach for diversity, and (e) bold ideas for challenging popular assumptions.

We approach our examination of these bold ideas recognizing that the ideas are not all equally bold or necessarily novel. In fact, some of the ideas have historical roots but have been boldly recast for contemporary educational, political, and societal contexts. We use a theoretical framework proposed by Labaree (1997), which considers competing goals for schools in the United States. Labaree suggested that these competing goals are at the root of educational conflict in American education. The goal of democratic equality represents the perspective of citizens, who believe that schools should focus on preparing students to participate in the democratic process and in shaping and reshaping public policies and, by extension, the destination of society. The goal of social efficiency represents the perspective of taxpayers, who believe that schools should focus on training workers to fill economic and social needs. The goal of social mobility represents the perspective of consumers, who believe that schools should prepare students who can compete for status attainment and that credentials trump knowledge. The long-standing conflict among these goals has resulted in an educational system that is composed of contradictory elements and is impaired by ineffectiveness. This theory guides our examination of the bold ideas described in this inaugural double issue, each of which requires serious attention to its potential for meeting the needs of citizens, taxpayers, and consumers in a changing world.

Bold Ideas for Practice-Focused Transformation

The complexity of teaching practice has been both the target and the source of two major streams of educational inquiry--the theory driven and the practice driven. It is through the alternation between these two that the potential for positive changes and the limits of reforms in teaching and teacher education can be grasped (Shulman, 2004). What, then, is teaching practice? What are the patterns and characteristics of its development? …

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