Revitalizing teacher education by revisiting our assumptions about teaching

  • Hess F
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The state of teaching and teacher education is the result of more than a century of compromises and adjustments demanded by the exigencies of another era. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the teaching profession was designed to match the rapid expansion of schooling. It relied on a captive pool of inexpensive, educated female labor and assumed little in the way of a professional knowledge base. Teacher preparation and development were designed accordingly. Today, would-be reformers should recognize that the machinery and assumptions that once made sense may be ill suited for contemporary opportunities and challenges. Preparation programs are predominantly overseen by institutions of higher education that are constructed with the expectation that most aspiring teachers will decide upon a lifelong teaching career while enrolled in college. The job of a K-12 “teacher” has remained markedly undifferentiated and static over the past century, despite advances in technology and communications. If we unshackle ourselves from the legacy of once-reasonable but now-con-straining assumptions and arrangements, what new ideas might guide smarter approaches to attracting talent to teaching?

Author-supplied keywords

  • Human capital
  • Preparation
  • Reinvention
  • Specialization
  • Staffing
  • Teacher roles

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  • Frederick M. Hess

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