History of Teacher Education Research Paper Starter

History of Teacher Education

This article provides a historical overview of the field of teacher education. Teacher education refers to programs that help teachers develop quality and effective teaching and learning strategies to use in the classroom. The teacher education field began during the eighteenth century when Benjamin Franklin recognized the need to have quality, educated teachers who could train others to teach. Today, teacher education programs provide future teachers with a number of methods to use while teaching, including reflective teaching skills, tools to use while teaching in diverse settings, instruction on how to use the realistic approach, episteme & phronesis, use of computers & technology, training during early field experiences, tools to use when teaching disabled students, and enhanced focus on clinical experiences and training access during the five-year programs.

Keywords Accountability; No Child Left Behind (NCLB); Normal schools; Pedagogy; Teacher education; Teacher quality; Teacher preparation programs

History of Education: History of Teacher Education


Teacher education refers to programs that help teachers develop quality and effective teaching and learning strategies to use in the classroom (Hagger & McIntyre, 2000). The field of Teacher Education can generally be defined as a group of educational programs that prepare future teachers.

Research on teacher education shows that the profession involves more than just an understanding of teaching, but also an understanding of the process in which new teachers learn effective teaching techniques, and how they can be taught to do so. Hagger and McIntyre (2000) posit that initial teacher education can be understood best in terms of interactions among intelligent people in varying positions, who have their own agendas and have their own unique ways of pursuing them. The differences in ideas and understandings that new student teachers bring to the profession, the passion for their individual preconceptions, and how learning is influenced within teacher education programs all make up the body of research on teacher education today.

The teacher education field has a long history of development. The preparation of teachers in the Colonial and Revolutionary periods in the seventeenth and eighteenth century United States was very different. No high-school or college diploma was required during that time, so becoming a teacher involved obtaining approval from a local clergy member or board of trustees connected with a religious institution. As long as one could read, write, spell and was considered to have a positive moral character, he or she was deemed qualified to be a teacher (Ornstein & Levine, 2006).

Prior to the American Revolution in 1775, nine colonial colleges were charted, each existing to grant academic degrees. These institutions were: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Penn, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell University, College of William & Mary and Rutgers University (Roche, 1986). Most teachers in these colleges were untrained women who were poorly paid, and others were ex-soldiers or indentured servants. Because individuals were struggling to make it on a new continent, they accepted whatever pay was offered (Parker, 1990).

In 1750, Benjamin Franklin recognized the need for quality, educated teachers who could train others to teach. He believed that future teachers could be educated in a Philadelphia academy that he helped establish, which had been modeled after some of the London academies in which he served as an apprentice. So Franklin set out to make this plan come to fruition. Later, additional academies were created to educate future teachers by English Quakers, Baptists and other nonconformists, many of which were established because their sons had been barred from Oxford and Cambridge colleges which were controlled by the Church of England (Parker, 1990).

The academies, which offered applied subjects, operated as terminal secondary schools that appealed to many rising middle class Americans. Some of the academies were private for example, the early Zion Parnassus Academy (1785), located near Salisbury, NC. Others include a private academy in Concord, VT, Phillips Academy in Andover, MA, and seminaries in Plymouth, NH and Craftsbury, VT, all established by Congregational minister Samuel Read Hall (1795-1877), often referred to as a "teacher of teachers," (Parker, 1990, p. 4). Hall created a number of instructor's manuals to use in the academies, which were later used by the normal schools as a textbook (Parker, 1990).

After 1827, the state of New York offered financial support to academies to prepare teachers, as most were private, multipurpose institutions, whose teacher education departments received little respect. Even the colleges had little respect for the teaching education programs in the academies, because most were liberal and believed that no professional training should take place at their institutions. Therefore, they offered no support toward preparing future teachers. Consequently, until the establishment of Normal Schools, teacher education had no real home (Parker, 1990).

Normal schools were established during the nineteenth century. They were two-year educational institutions that offered history and philosophy of education courses, methods of teaching, and practice teaching for those striving to become teachers. Many of these schools however, became four-year teacher education colleges by the end of the nineteenth century (Ornstein & Levine, 2006).

Enrollment in normal schools was initially slow. In 1839, enrollment in the first state-supported normal school consisted of only three female students. Student enrollment increased by 1840 however, with 26 students from ten states between Maine and California completing the teacher education programs by the end of the term. By 1875, enrollment had increased to over 23,000 in 70 state-supported normal schools throughout 25 states, including ten county-supported schools and ten city-supported normal schools. Courses on the history of education, teaching elementary school subjects, and the art of teaching made up the normal school curriculum. Each normal school included student teaching practice sites, also known as laboratory schools or practice schools (Parker, 1990).

When the public school systems began to form in the Midwest and western states in the late 1800s, growth in normal schools was significantly enhanced. Program duration for the normal schools began at one year, and later increased to three years once the schools became more secure (Parker, 1990). Normal schools received additional support in 1862, when the Morrill Act was established. It granted 30,000 acres worth of federal land grants to senators and representatives in the Congress in each state, and provided support to the teacher education profession. The land was used to establish college institutions focusing on engineering, agricultural education, liberal arts, as well as professional education (Andrews, 1918).

After 1900 the problems facing teacher education came to the forefront. Parker (1990) writes that low pay, part-year work (since schools were only open 3 to 7 months each year) and unfair hiring practices plagued the teacher education profession. Most teaching jobs went to relatives of school board members, and because it was so difficult to get a teaching position, few young people chose to spend time and money on teacher education in colleges or normal schools. This lack of interest in teacher education drove the efforts of the National Teachers Association, established in 1857 and reorganized in 1870 as the National Education Association (NEA). Its mission was to recruit teachers, promote teacher institutes, support normal schools and increase teacher salaries.

Though the NEA had the ability to advocate for various teacher issues, the teacher education profession faced other issues that were beyond its scope. For example, teacher quality and the guidelines required for certification/licensing was at issue. At this time, teacher certification was local and controlled by districts until individual states gained control. Because the need for teachers was so great, certification requirements were often low and often overlooked, thereby resulting in poor teacher quality in many of the teacher education programs (Parker, 1990).

Historically, however, individual state education laws have governed teacher preparation programs in the United States, deeming that each state is responsible for the functions of public elementary and secondary education in their states. In addition, states are expected to play a significant role in licensing teachers. The rationale of state educator licensing programs is that parents need to send their children to school, and because they send their children to school, they have the right to expect that a reasonable amount of standard of care will be displayed while the school is in charge of their child. In addition, parents have the right to expect that teachers have the appropriate knowledge and skills necessary to provide their children with a quality education. Licenses protect educators from arbitrary dismissals based on the assertion that the teacher does not have the knowledge and skills needed for the task (Early, 1994).

Today, individual states must make necessary changes in their teacher education programs, and institutions must modify certification program requirements to maintain their historical role as arbitrator of educational quality (Bales, 2006). To date, all public school teachers in the United States are required to be certified by the state in their specific subject area or grade level. With the exception of alternative certification or temporary certification, a bachelor's degree or five years of college-level work is required to begin to teach (Ornstein & Levine, 2006; Kaye, 2003).

Decades ago, teachers could obtain teaching certificates that were good for life. Today certificates issued by the states are valid for three to five years, and require proof of positive evaluations or college coursework for renewal. The process of issuing teaching certifications is not without issue. Differences in requirements from state-to-state often lead to problems in teacher preparation programs. It becomes difficult to measure the preparedness of entering teachers because of the diversity of required arts and science semester hours. Across the nation, some programs require thirty hours and some require up to seventy-five hours. In addition, courses vary in content from program to program, making it difficult for states and institutions to guarantee that educators have studied the...

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