Teaching as Community Property: Essays on Higher Education

By Jensen, Gail M. | Journal of Physical Therapy Education, Fall 2004 | Go to article overview

Teaching as Community Property: Essays on Higher Education


Jensen, Gail M., Journal of Physical Therapy Education


Teaching as Community Property: Essays on Higher Education. Shulman, Lee S. San Francisco, Calif, Jossey-Bass Inc Publishers, 2004, hardback, 242 pp, $35.

Teaching as Community Property: Essays on Higher Education is one of two hooks recently published by Dr Lee Shulman, current president of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. This book, which is a collection of Shulman's papers and presentations since 1987, contains 16 chapters divided into three sections: 1) learning, 2) the profession of teaching, and 3) practices and policies. Shulman's eloquent presentations and writings, coupled with his leadership through his Carnegie presidency, continue to have an enormous impact on teaching and learning across all levels of education. His work is theoretically rich and practically relevant for educators and focuses on teaching and learning in higher education including professional programs.

The four chapters in the first section on learning would serve well as mandatory reading for all physical therapy educators. Therefore, I will provide a detailed description of these chapters. In the initial chapter on "professing the liberal arts," Shulman draws on theory of professions to make a strong case that liberal arts is not corrupted by emphasis on professions but suggests there is a need to professionalize liberal education. He proposes that six characteristics of professional learning are essential for preparing students "to profess": profession as service, theory for practice, judgment in uncertain conditions, active learning, field-based experience, and learning in community. Instead of distinguishing or disconnecting liberal education from professional education, Shulman works to bring together the liberal and the professional. This chapter would enhance our profession's continued dialogue regarding important constructs and critical roles of the interdependence of liberal arts education and professional education.

The second chapter in this section, "Taking Learning Seriously," is eloquently written and centered on what it means to "profess" or take something seriously, like student learning. Shulman skillfully integrates a rich array of medical metaphors used to describe the pathologies of learning. For example, the most dominant learning pathology is amnesia, in which students forget all they have memorized. A central argument throughout this chapter is that learning is least useful when it is private and hidden and most powerful when it is public and communal. Shulman makes a strong case for all in higher education to center our focus on student learning. Without any assessment data or evidence of student learning, it is likely that teaching has been unsuccessful.

The third chapter of this section, "Problem-Based Learning: The Pedagogy of Uncertainty," provides a passionate, theoretically grounded, and historical overview of a "family of approaches" to learning and uncertainty. He draws from his experience and understanding of medical education to make larger claims identifying core learning concepts that are central to "pedagogies of uncertainty." This helps the reader move from a technique perspective of problem-based learning for teaching and learning to understanding the importance of core elements in learning: engagement, understanding, reflection, commitment, and performance. He then reverses the obvious research question to ask what we know about the effects of problem-based pedagogies on teachers rather than students. Reading this chapter will enhance understanding of the interrelationships among the work and writings of John Dewey, Jerome Bruner, and Donald Schon.

This leads to the final chapter in the learning section, "Making Differences: A Table of Learning. …

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