A Search for the Heart of Teacher Education Through Curriculum
- Mari KoernerMari KoernerArizona State University
Most of the millions of teachers in public and private schools have gone through teacher preparation programs. Preparing a person to teach is a centrally important, complicated, and many-layered process that carries deep responsibilities for the people who prepare those teachers, namely, teacher educators. So, it is not surprising that, even in the face of over 1,400 research studies about its effectiveness, there are still ongoing debates about the impact of teacher preparation on teachers in classrooms. It is not uncommon to see claims that teacher preparation is vitally important and, at the same time, claims that teacher preparation makes little difference. Because of myriad philosophies and varied desired outcomes, experts who design the pedagogy and content have varying touchstones for excellence that are put into programs along with variation in courses, admission, and degree requirements. How is it possible to get to the “heart” of preparing knowledgeable and caring teachers? There seems to be no one curriculum for the thousands of people entering the classrooms across America, so how can educators design and implement the methods that will best serve students in classrooms all across the country? Many underlying philosophies and values, as well as research, steer this enterprise—which leads to more confusion and angst. There has always been the quest for a “one shoe fits all” model for definitive curriculum, so epochs in teacher preparation can be traced back to when ideas and practices shifted. Other, varied sources contribute to the implementation and goals of teacher education: state and federal governments, education college research faculty, and local Boards of Education. The necessary professional credentials should be a factor (and ideally the same in all states), but ways to obtain teaching credentials are currently multiplying as alternative pathways are being created at a rapid pace. Then, there is the central question: Who is speaking for the welfare of the children in a united voice? Certainly, everyone in this endeavor should never forget that the purpose of a free and public education, both in the United States and other countries, is to create a literate population who can support and sustain a democracy. The ongoing quest is to discover what constitutes the heart of teacher preparation.