Academic journal article Education

Creating 21st-Century Centers of Pedagogy: Explicating Key Laboratory and Clinical Elements of Teacher Preparation

Academic journal article Education

Creating 21st-Century Centers of Pedagogy: Explicating Key Laboratory and Clinical Elements of Teacher Preparation

Article excerpt

Considering the importance of education in the life of a 21st-century person, it is remarkable that the training of teachers continues to be as inconsistent, and in many cases, as lackadaisical, as it is. For all the evidence indicating that excellent teachers rank high on the list of factors essential to student success, one would expect that teacher training would be at least as rigorous, methodical, and clinical as that which trainees in a wide range of other professions receive, from airplane pilots to auto mechanics to surgeons to chefs. But that is not the case--at least, not widely enough for the United States to reliably meet the many complex needs of today's students when it comes to life and workforce preparation.

It is the aim of this paper to advance one particular aspect of the ongoing dialogue about teacher education the urgent need for a proliferation of comprehensive Centers of Pedagogy. This paper discusses how new focus on this not-new and underdeveloped concept can build strategies to make sure every teacher has the tools and experiences to become an excellent teacher.

The Centers of Pedagogy concept is riveted on rigorously driving and supporting laboratory and clinical teacher preparation. This paper generally defines these terms and provides examples of laboratory facilities and clinical strategies that enable learning to teach and are driven by contemporary communications and problem-solving technologies, akin to other practice-based professions.

Finally, this discussion shows how The State University of New York (SUNY) system recently created a Teacher and Leader Education Network designed to take the Centers of Pedagogy concept to scale so that it becomes the new standard in the training of education professionals at SUNY. The S-TEN, as the network is called, is proving to be a critical component in the effort to cut a new path toward establishing Centers of Pedagogy that will train the best, most effective teachers in the world--professionals who are fully prepared to do their part toward ensuring that all students leave school ready for college or a career.

What Are Centers of Pedagogy?

The concept of Centers of Pedagogy is not new, but their actual existence--their prevalence, structure, and functionality--needs an assertive, consistent revival in the field of teacher education if the United States is to prepare teachers that can prepare students to be ready to participate in today's knowledge-and technology-driven workforce.

Centers of Pedagogy are university-based hubs devoted entirely to supporting all practices and innovations, laboratory and clinical, necessary for creating high-quality teachers. It is both a laboratory site and a satellite site for clinical classroom placements. Many other professions take a similar approach to training, but teacher education has not fully embraced the approach to the scaled level where it can become the training standard.

There are certainly a few such sites scattered across education departments at universities around the country. Montclair State University in New Jersey established the first in 1995, and in 1999 a comprehensive book, Centers of Pedagogy: New Structures for Education Renewal, was put forth by authors Robert S. Patterson, Nicholas M. Michelli, and Arturo Pacheco on the subject, owing the concept of Centers of Pedagogy almost entirely to the work of Jolm Goodlad, beginning in the 1980s. The authors quote Goodlad to define Centers of Pedagogy. It is, they write, "a concept and a setting. As a concept, it brings together simultaneously and integratively the commonly scattered pieces of the teacher education enterprise and embeds them in reflective attention to the art and science of teaching" (Goodlad as cited in Patterson, Michelli, & Pacheco, 1999).

The kernels of the Centers of Pedagogy concept--including various forms of laboratory and clinical enrichment--are detectable in the earliest days of "lab schools" that operated in many normal schools. …

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