Learning Goals in the Education Program encompass four major themes that are woven into university coursework and fieldwork. Each of the goals is discussed below.
Innovation Grounded In Knowledge Of Students And Learning
Constructivist perspectives on cognitive development serve as a foundation for education courses. Constructivism has challenged traditional conceptions of what it means to "know" and what it means to learn. For much of the history of formal education teaching was viewed as synonymous with "telling." Constructivist teaching assumes more active, more contextualized, and more engaged learning.
Students in the education program are challenged to be thoughtful about their own learning and can therefore be more thoughtful about the learning of their students. We encourage critical thinking through extensive reading and reflective writing. We promote problem solving through interdisciplinary projects, joint inquiry, and analysis of multiple resources. We ask for self-assessment through journaling, performance critiques, and portfolios. Our program strives to teach our own students as we would have them teach their students.
Our program prepares students to be mindful of their ethical and professional commitments to teaching all the children in their classrooms and to the moral purposes of schooling in a democratic society. Ethical practice includes grounding professional decision-making in the broader discourse of professional practice and policy rather than more individualistic justifications. Thus, our program helps students understand that ethical practice requires them to remain deeply engaged in their fields throughout their careers and to act as public, not free agents.
Further, we encourage our interns to recognize that schooling in democracy involves learning to thrive within ideological diversity as well as ethnic and class diversity. We help them understand how curriculum and pedagogy can be constructed to honor the strengths and beliefs of all children. We assist them in the development of skills for working with parents and community services to support the well-being and success of their students as well as their emerging beliefs and ideals. We encourage them, in turn, to educate their own students to understand that the purpose of education is the creation of a just and democratic society which respects and values differences.
Practice Grounded in Intellectual and Professional Communities
Teachers accepting the invitation to teach in more innovative and more authentic ways require support in their experimentation, resources to address their questions, and the collegiality of peers and faculty. In our M.Ed. Program, students are given the opportunity to work in groups and are expected to contribute to the professional development of their colleagues. In our Certification Programs faculty, academic support staff, and field instructors, together with the master teachers in the schools, evidence collaborative decision-making and, where appropriate, engage the interns in that process. Field placements in dyads and small groups demonstrate for interns the potential for professional development in collaborative models of teaching. Because our interns participate in rich professional and intellectual communities, we anticipate that they will develop as teachers who cultivate community within their classrooms and their schools.
Dedication to Educating Diverse Students
We are committed to preparing future teachers who are dedicated to educating diverse students. Our students engage in focused course work in multicultural education. Their study is complemented by courses in pedagogy that stress the ways in which curriculum and instruction can respond to differences in student learning as well as differences between students themselves. Field placements for students in the K-8 Teacher Certification Program are designed to give interns experiences in several different settings where they can encounter the wide variations among students and their schools.