Tomorrow's Teachers, Schools, and Schools of Education

By Ishler, Richard E. | National Forum, Fall 1995 | Go to article overview

Tomorrow's Teachers, Schools, and Schools of Education


Ishler, Richard E., National Forum


The current wave of educational reform has been underway now for about twelve years. Massive efforts to improve schools and learning began with the release of the United States Department of Education's report titled A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform (1983). These efforts gained momentum as every state in the nation passed legislation designed to improve its schools, and the Goals 2000: Educate America Act was enacted in 1994. As a result of the extensive funding available to each state under this Act, major educational reform of K-12 schools is being facilitated.

As schools change, so must the teachers and the schools of education that prepare them. The professional organization that has conceptualized how these three components must fit together is the Holmes Group. Organized in 1985, it is a consortium of approximately 100 of the nation's research universities. The Holmes Group is committed to the twin goals of the reform of teacher education and the reform of the teaching profession itself. It assumes that these reforms are possible only if the nation's best universities are committed to teacher education. Holmes Group institutions attract more than their share of the best and brightest students; they have the faculty who are the nation's best and most authoritative sources of information; they command substantial resources; and they prepare the future professoriat.

Holmes Group Reports One and Two

The Holmes Group has produced a 1 trilogy of reports that, when considered together, outline a specific plan for the reform of schools, the profession, and teacher education. In 1986, Tomorrow's Teachers, built on the premise that well-prepared teachers are the best hope for reform to occur in schools, addressed the following goals:

* To make the education of teachers intellectually more solid;

* To recognize differences in teachers' knowledge, skill, and commitment, in their education, certification, and work;

* To create standards of entry to the profession that are professionally relevant and intellectually defensible;

* To connect our institutions to schools;

* To make schools better places for teachers to work and learn.

To attain these goals, Holmes Group institutions agreed to extend their teacher education programs to include more study in both content and pedagogy. In fact, many institutions eliminated the undergraduate education major and moved to programs that required students to major in the subject(s) they planned to teach, complete a fifth year of professional education studies, and serve a one-year internship before they could be recommended for licensure as beginning teachers.

The second report of the Holmes Group, Tomorrow's Schools: Principles for the Design of Professional Development Schools, was published in 1990. In this report, the Holmes Group described Professional Development Schools, the type of school that would be necessary to serve as a laboratory to prepare the kinds of teachers envisioned in Tomorrow's Teachers. By Professional Development School, the Holmes Group did not mean just a laboratory school for university research, nor a demonstration school or just a clinical setting for interns. Rather, they meant all of these together: a school for the development of novice professionals, for continuing development of experienced teachers, for the research and development of the teaching profession, and a place where children could be exposed to the best practices in education.

The principles for organizing Professional Development Schools outlined in Tomorrow's Schools are:

* Teaching and learning for understanding.

* Creating a learning community.

* Teaching and learning for understanding for everybody's children.

* Continuing learning by teachers, teacher educators, and administrators.

* Thoughtful long-term inquiry into teaching and learning.

* Inventing a new institution. …

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