Tuesday, September 22, 2015

the history of education in teacher prep.

Knowing the history of education may not make you able to teach, but Scholars Lament Decline of Ed. History Courses in Teacher Prep and I agree with them.
Once an ubiquitous course requirement that nearly all aspiring teachers took, the history of education seems to be going the way of land-line phones, floppy disks, and shorthand.

Crowded out by an ever-expanding teacher-preparation curriculum in the latter half of the 20th century, such courses are now almost exclusively electives reserved for graduate education students, according to scholars who have documented the decline.
Those who would Walmartize education, and turn teachers into checkout clerks, would want teachers to know nothing about the long and innovative history of education or the contributions of Pestalozzi, Comenius, John Locke, John Dewey or Uno Cygnaeus, for knowing the history of education would call current methodology into question for those teachers who saw the broader view.
For example, what if all graduates of prestigious Teacher's College in NYC knew that their own institution was established in the first place to prepare teachers in the practical arts? Would they then have an understanding that the hands must never be forgotten or ignored in schooling?

Yesterday I went to Little Rock with with the head of Clear Spring School to investigate becoming a public charter school. But as we met and as we explained our objectives and the character of our school, and learned what would be demanded of us, we learned that the costs of becoming a public charter school would be a greater burden than we could bear. The charter school movement in general is not about taking schools back to what worked, but relentlessly toward what will never offer the merit to students that Clear Spring School provides.

Education must start with the interests of the child, not with the interests of adults achieving certain test scores within a student body.

In the meantime, one of the best ways to know if a kitchen knife is sharp may not be to scalp the hair from your arm , or to "feel" its edge, but to simply sight down its edge as you rock it slightly from side to side. If you see a consistent shiny spot, as shown above, it's where the edge is worn flat. After more careful sharpening, the shiny spot will completely disappear and no light will be reflected back toward your eyes but rather to both sides. A truly sharp knife will cut light.This same approach works on other edge tools, too. For instance, I can look at the edge of a plane and know immediately whether it needs attention.

Today with the first, second and third grade students, I'll make t-rex dinosaurs.

In my wood shop, I'm making lovely small boxes.

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning likewise.


  1. If "teachers to be" don't know what worked and what didn't years back, how can they decide how they are going to do their job?


  2. You can arrive reasonably at the conclusion that they may not want teachers to learn what education could have been like, for that might interfere with getting them to teach under such extreme conditions.

  3. I retired from the community college just in time, along with a sizable group of my age group. What we took with us is a sense of institutional memory, a sense of what works in an inner city setting. I would love to go back to speak with young teachers, but administration would not approve of that, since those of us who left might sound a little bit too cynical. It's a very simple idea really, but apparently too radical for top brass.


  4. I am convinced that human nature demands that we imprint our surroundings. Those of us who are makers naturally have materials to imprint with our own personalities and as a reflection of our thoughts. Those who are not makers attempt to imprint others, and in most cases when a new administrator comes to work, he or she would like a clean slate. For good or for not so good almost all insist on making their mark. Top brass would not be interested in inviting others to come make their mark, as that would interfere with their expression of themselves.

    That is not to say that truly good administrators do not exist. It takes someone real special, able to put the needs of the institution and students before his or her own needs for glory to use power to empower others and to refrain from taking too much control.