JTE Insider Podcast Spotlights History of Teacher Preparation

When it comes to teacher education, how can you distinguish problems, which can be solved, from dilemmas, which can only be managed? This question is the featured discussion of the Journal of Teacher Education article published in the Sept/Oct 2018 issue, Marching Forward, Marching in Circles: A History of Problems and Dilemmas in Teacher Preparation, authored by Jack Schneider, assistant professor of education, College of the Holy Cross.

In a recent podcast interview for JTE Insider blog, Schneider offers insights on the article during his chat with podcast host JTE graduate assistant Mary Neville. “It’s kind of a funny piece in that it tries to come up with a number of typologies for the history of teacher education,” said Schneider. During the interview, Schneider identifies four contextual factors, three core dilemmas and four periods of history of teacher education.

He emphasizes that the core purpose of the piece is to disentangle problems and dilemmas in teacher preparation. “There is a lot rhetoric about the failures of teacher education,” said Schneider. “But if you look at the history, problem after problem has been solved. It’s just that the ongoing dilemmas can’t be solved. And so it’s important to not confuse the two.”

Schneider credits his obsession with this rhetoric around teacher education as the driving force for his interest in this topic. He outlines three elements: the persistent claim that teacher education is not good, the implication that there has never been any improvement in teacher education, and that presently, there are number of reforms that are being pushed that are ones that previous reform efforts worked to get rid of. “There is something interesting about victories becoming losses overtime,” Schneider added.

The article is summarized in the following abstract:

This essay tracks the history of teacher preparation, from its origins in the early republic to the present. In so doing, it tells two stories. The first is a story about problems—a linear story in which problems are discovered, potential solutions are generated, and positive results are achieved. It moves from the past to the future and from the old to the new. The other story is about dilemmas. And because dilemmas cannot be solved, the passage of time leads back to the original point of departure. Solutions are tried and discarded, but as the past is forgotten, they eventually are embraced again. In telling these two stories, the essay proceeds chronologically, highlighting improvements in teacher preparation practice over time. That relatively linear chronology, however, is organized into four periods, which reveal not a march of progress, but an unmindful return to the once-maligned practices of the past.

Listen to the podcast interview, and read the article. (Remember, AACTE members can access the article free if they log in on AACTE’s website first.)

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Katrina Norfleet

Editor, AACTE

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