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In Memoriam: John I. Goodlad

John_I_Goodlad John I. Goodlad, a giant in 20th-century education and former elected president of AACTE, died November 29 in Seattle. He was 94.

After 8 years of teaching in his native Canada — in the challenging conditions of a one-room schoolhouse and, later, a juvenile detention center — Goodlad completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of British Columbia and then came to the United States for doctoral work at the University of Chicago. By age 29, he was head of teacher education at Emory University (GA). He briefly returned to the University of Chicago before moving in 1960 to the University of California Los Angeles, where he spent 24 years, the last 16 as education dean. In 1984, he left UCLA for the University of Washington, where he stayed for the remainder of his career.

In 1986, he launched the National Network for Educational Renewal (NNER) to promote the public democratic purposes of education through school-university partnerships, and he founded the Center for Educational Renewal at the University of Washington and, later, the independent Institute for Educational Inquiry to support the network with research and development work. More than two dozen NNER settings around the country united universities with local schools and districts in pursuit of “simultaneous renewal” in the hundreds of partnering institutions.

“John Goodlad was truly a teacher’s teacher,” said AACTE President/CEO Sharon P. Robinson. “Through his scholarship, mentoring, and professional engagement, he inspired and challenged his professional community to continue learning. He taught us to regard issues of student achievement as issues that belong to all, and to connect with practitioners in public school classrooms as colleagues. At any time, his presence among us was commanding; his life’s work is ever so.”

Goodlad’s award-winning 1984 publication A Place Called School attracted the strongest spotlight among his dozens of books. He also led a major study of teacher preparation that culminated in his 1990 book Teachers for Our Nation’s Schools, which won AACTE’s Outstanding Writing Award. Goodlad received numerous honorary degrees and awards for his writing and research. He served as president not only of AACTE but also of the American Educational Research Association, and he was a charter member of the National Academy of Education.

David G. Imig, AACTE president emeritus and longtime collaborator of Goodlad’s, said his friend and colleague was the most influential voice of his time. “He offered an alternative vision of what schooling could be and inspired a generation of classroom teachers and school principals, teacher educators and other academics to focus on what renewing—not reforming—schools could mean,” Imig said. “He called upon politicians and policy makers, professors and the public to do better for America’s students. He was passionate in his beliefs about the role of schools and schooling in democratic societies and political democracies.”

A recent installment of Arizona State University’s “Inside the Academy” provides a series of video interviews with Goodlad at http://insidetheacademy.asu.edu/john-goodlad and reflections on his work from numerous colleagues at http://insidetheacademy.asu.edu/reflections-on-john-goodlad.

What has John Goodlad meant to you? Please share your tribute in the Comments section below.

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Kristin McCabe

Editor, AACTE

Comments (6)

  • Allen Glenn


    I didn’t know John Goodlad when I became dean at the University of Washington in 1989. I knew of his scholarship and had heard him speak several times. Colleagues from across the country when they found I was moving to Washington would say, “Isn’t that where John Goodlad is on the faculty?” They, as did I, wondered how it would be to have one of the most influential educators as a colleague and faculty member.

    How did it go? During our years together it went exceedingly well. He was supportive, a gentle critic, and raised fundamental questions for us in the College to consider. Through his network he engaged us with others from across the nation in the never-ending effort to improve education. John’s passion for democracy, students, teachers, and administrators never waivered nor did his love for life on the water and the gathering with good friends. We all are better as educators because of his scholarship, and for those of us who knew him personally, we are better people. Thanks John.


  • Cori Mantle-Bromley


    Allen Glenn, in his comment, says that we are better educators because of John Goodlad. I know that this is true for me. John’s passion for the public purposes of schooling and his commitment to bringing schools and teacher preparation programs together deeply impacted my work in education. He was a rare individual who was able to produce both meaningful research and action that changed how teachers and teacher educators work toward common goals. Our profession is better because of his efforts.


  • Brian Yontz


    I had the opportunity to study with Dr. Goodlad during the summer of 2006. My professional life changed dramatically that summer. One of the most significant things that I learned from Dr. Goodlad is that meaningful investment in others is critical to the continuation of our enterprise of schooling. I am working towards these ideals because Dr. Goodlad invested in two individuals–Greg Bernhardt and Donna Cole. Those two invested in me and tonight I will lead my final class of the semester my ed policy graduate students. We have been reading Education for Everyone over the past few weeks and tonight we will honor our dear friend by committing to continuing these investments.


  • Pat Tempesta


    What a gem! First I learned from Dr. Goodlad and then legions of my students learned from him. He was a rare treasure to all of us who feel deeply and passionately about kids and schools. He.Will.Be.Missed.


  • Bill McDiarmid


    I owe John more than I can convey here. He was an extraordinarily wise and insightful educator who cast Yeats’ “cold eye” on schools, policy, higher education and teacher preparation yet remained hopeful and engaged. I was privileged to be present for a public conversation he had with Debbie Meier several years ago. After John had described the dismal state of federal education policy and its corrosive effects on students and teachers — not to mention the mission of schooling in a democracy — Debbie bridled and asked, “So if things are so bad, John, why do you keep doing what you do?” John’s response: “What else am I going to do?” His realism and critical stance co-existed productively with his commitment to and belief in democratic schooling. Sadly, I’m not sure we will see his like again any time soon.


  • John Jacobson


    During my initial teacher preparation in the 1970s I had the opportunity of working in university partnership schools where John Goodlad was associated with. The teachers and administrators of those schools admired and appreciated his work and their respect quickly rubbed off on me. I have all his books, studied his research, and his work is engrained in me. He was one of the greatest educational researchers of our time. In his book, A Place Called School, he provided us with a revolutionary account of the largest on-scene study of U.S. schools ever conducted. I suppose John is already scoping out Heaven and will soon provide us with a book he might title, A Place Called Heaven. Thank you, John Goodlad!


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