Excerpts From Goodlad’s Book, Teachers for Our Nation’s Schools

October 24, 1990 13 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In the following excerpt from Teachers for Our Nation’s Schools, John I. Goodlad presents 19 “postulates” that he views as necessary to create exemplary teacher-education programs:

Postulate 1. Programs for the education of the nation’s educators must be viewed by institutions offering them as a major responsibility to society and be adequately supported and promoted and vigorously advanced by the institution’s top leadership.

Our children, their parents, and the nation are ill-served by colleges and universities and their presidents lukewarm to educating teachers. ... The message must go out and be backed by forceful action: Get on with it properly or be forthright in deciding not to participate any longer. ...

Postulate 2. Programs for the education of educators must enjoy parity with other campus programs as a legitimate college or university commitment and field of study and service, worthy of rewards for faculty geared to the nature of the field.

It is hypocritical for institutions to include teacher education in their offerings and then be lukewarm about rewarding the work that goes with it, ... With functions and tasks clear, the criteria for rewards can and must be made explicit.

Postulate 3. Programs for the education of educators must be autonomous and secure in their borders, with clear organizational identity, constancy of budget and personnel, and decisionmaking authority similar to that enjoyed by the major professional schools.

In other words, boundaries and resources must be protected with the same vigor that characterizes academic departments and the education of doctors, lawyers, and dentists. We are dealing here with the education of those who will join parents in ensuring that our young people become humane individuals and responsible citizens. Do universities take on any matters of greater importance? ...

Postulate 4. There must exist a clearly identifiable group of academic and clinical faculty members for whom teacher education is the top priority. The group must be responsible and accountable for selecting students and monitoring their progress, planning and maintaining the full scope and sequence of the curriculum, continuously evaluating and improving programs, and facilitating the entry of graduates into teaching careers.

The existence of a department, school, or college of education is no guarantee of these conditions. Nor is the allocation of resources for teacher education to such a unit a guarantee. Clearly, some of the necessary faculty must come from the schools that provide student teaching and internship experiences, as well as from the arts and sciences departments. These faculty members perform different functions but enjoy equal status in planning and conducting the programs. Patching together a curriculum and a faculty on a year-to-year basis, however, is inadequate and inexcusable. ...

Postulate 5. The responsible group of academic and clinical faculty members described above must have a comprehensive understanding of the aims of education and the role of schools in our society and be fully committed to selecting and preparing teachers to assume the full range of educational responsibilities required.

Clearly, faculty members who perceive the function of schools narrowly and teaching as a mechanistic series of steps provide the wrong role models. Professors who impatiently and reluctantly drag themselves away from their research and graduate seminars to teach required courses in the teacher education sequence probably do not think much about what teachers should do. Professors of mathematics who advise their best students not to become teachers defeat the implications of this postulate. And cooperating teachers in the schools who tell their student teachers that teaching is a miserable occupation should themselves be out of it. Future teachers deserve more encouraging messages.

Postulate 6. The responsible group of academic and clinical faculty members must seek out and select for a predetermined number of student places in the program those candidates who reveal an initial commitment to the moral, ethical, and enculturating responsibilities to be assumed.

Fulfilling this postulate requires the preparation of recruitment and admissions documents describing the entrance requirements. It calls for the presentation of supporting credentials from each candidate and an admissions interview. Other professional programs require these things. Why not teacher education programs? ... Teaching our children is not a given right. It is an opportunity to be earned. ...

Postulate 7. Programs for the education of educators, whether elementary or secondary, must carry the responsibility to ensure that all candidates progressing through them possess or require the literacy and critical-thinking abilities associated with the concept of an educated person.

There are at least three sets of requirements here. First, there are entry minimums to be met through examinations. It is very important, however, for the results to be built into a counseling process. Students who show an eagerness to correct deficiencies should be provided with the opportunity to do so. ... Second, the required preteaching general-education curriculum must be adhered to by all--both traditional students entering undergraduate and nontraditional students entering graduate programs--with the opportunity to examine out in most areas. Third, candidates must demonstrate, as they progress through this curriculum, the intellectual traits associated with continued development as educated persons. Assessment here is difficult, but the responsible faculty group must take it on, must counsel students along the way, and must make tough decisions as deemed necessary. ...

Postulate 8. Programs for the education of educators must provide extensive opportunities for future teachers to move beyond being students of organized knowledge to become teachers who inquire into both knowledge and its teaching.

I argue here for coupling general education--especially the study of subjects ultimately to be taught in schools--with pedagogy. What is called for here is less an inquiry into generic methods ... than an inquiry into the means for teaching embedded in the domains of knowledge. ... Not to effect the necessary transcendence while students are still involved in the general education and specialized-subject curricula is to lose a most significant opportunity.

Postulate 9. Programs for the education of educators must be characterized by a socialization process through which candidates transcend their self-oriented student preoccupations to become more other-oriented in identifying with a culture of teaching.

Socialization is a process of taking on certain cultural norms over time. ... How long and what it takes to absorb the moral and ethical norms of the teaching profession is not known; we have not tried to find out. We can be almost certain, however, that preparing to take some sort of examination on teaching will not suffice. Nor can such an exam tell us much about whether or not such socialization has occurred.

Postulate 10. Programs for the education of educators must be characterized in all respects by the conditions for learning that future teachers are to establish in their own schools and classrooms.

The field of education has declared for itself prime competence in and jurisdiction over such subfields as curriculum planning, instruction, student counseling, evaluation, testing, group climate setting, and the like. Consequently it is entirely reasonable to expect teacher education programs to be characterized by exemplary practices in all of these areas. ... For teacher education programs not to be models of educating is indefensible.

Postulate 11. Programs for the education of educators must be conducted in such a way that future teachers inquire into the nature of teaching and schooling and assume that they will do so as a natural aspect of their careers.

It is reasonable to assume that descriptions of teacher education programs will emphasize an inquiring approach instead of a series of hurdles to be cleared, that general traits of intellect will take precedence over narrow, specific competencies, and that “covering” course content and passing tests will be secondary to relating to children and youth and exciting them about learning.

Postulate 12. Programs for the education of educators must involve future teachers in the issues and dilemmas that emerge out of the never-ending tension between the rights and interests of individual parents and special interest groups, on one hand, and the role of schools in transcending parochialism, on the other.

To allow students not to grapple with these issues is to leave them hopelessly ignorant and exposed to pressures from all sides ... The goals and organization of schooling and the role of schoolteaching pose issues for which special, professional education is required. The discourse may well begin in a course on the philosophy of education, but the fundamental issues must become underlying themes throughout both the academic and clinical components of programs.

Postulate 13. Programs for the education of educators must be infused with understanding of and commitment to the moral obligation of teachers to ensure equitable access to and engagement in the best possible K-12 education for all children and youths.

As a nation, we simply have not internalized either the realization that the right to education now embraces the secondary school or the devastating consequences that will result if large numbers of young people do not complete it. Belief in the incapability of many children and youths to learn abounds. Horrifyingly large numbers of teachers share this belief; indeed, they use it to excuse their own failures. Teachers must come out of a preparation program with the belief that they can and will teach all their pupils to the best of their ability and that they will share in both their successes and their failures. Preparation programs that steer their students only into field settings where family backgrounds and educational resources almost ensure success are programs that disadvantage future teachers and shortchange society.

Postulate 14. Programs for the education of educators must involve future teachers not only in understanding schools as they are but in alternatives, the assumptions underlying alternatives, and how to effect needed changes in school organization, pupil groupings, curriculum, and more.

... [T]he education of educators is tightly coupled with the status quo. Few changes are needed if the purpose is to prepare teachers for the status quo, but if we think our schools need restructuring and renewal, then preparation programs must be involved with ideas for change and the spirit of change. ...

Postulate 15. Programs for the education of educators must assure for each candidate the availability of a wide array of laboratory settings for observation, hands-on experiences, and exemplary schools for partnerships and residencies; they must admit no more students to their programs than can be assured these quality experiences.

The range and stability of these resources are crucial. Additionally, observation in settings, good or bad, must be accompanied by critiques; practice and theory go together. Settings for internships and residencies must be examples of the best educational practices that schools and universities are able to develop together, and the internships obviously must be conducted collaboratively. These are “teaching schools,” paralleling the teaching hospitals essential to medical education. It is the responsibility of universities to work with school districts in ensuring that these teaching schools are in economically disadvantaged as well as advantaged areas and that future teachers get teaching experience in both. The availability of such schools at any given time must govern the number of students admitted to a program. ...

Postulate 16. Programs for the education of educators must engage future teachers in the problems and dilemmas arising out of the inevitable conflicts and incongruities between what works or is accepted in practice and the research and theory supporting other options.

Not only do such problems and dilemmas arise during observations of school and classroom practices, but the responsible faculty must see to it that they are brought to the forefront and discussed ... It is not good enough to tell student teachers, caught in the middle of such conflicts, that they must not, while “guests” in the classroom, “rearrange the furniture in the minister’s house.” It is immoral for professors to tell their students, for the sake of keeping peace with the affiliated schools, to do what neither they nor their students believe to be right. Such inexcusable behavior arises out of the general failure of clinical and academic faculty to come together in a genuinely intellectual collaborative enterprise.

Postulate 17. Programs for educating educators must establish linkages with graduates for purposes of both evaluating and revising these programs and easing the critical early years of transition into teaching.

It is generally known that virtually all practitioners are at first highly critical of their professional preparation programs, whatever the field. ... It is perhaps uncomfortable to hear the complaints, but consistencies in them can be woven into evaluative patterns that can be useful for program review and revision. Beginning teachers, for example, would find it exceedingly valuable to meet throughout at least the initial year with other neophytes in a seminar guided by someone more removed, such as a professor engaged in teacher education. ... Rarely, however, are the necessary funds available for follow-up, either locally or reciprocally. Given the loss of so many teachers during the first few years following graduation, the returns from such an investment would be substantial.

Postulate 18. Programs for the education of educators, in order to be vital and renewing, must be free from curricular specifications by licensing agencies and restrained only by enlightened, professionally driven requirements for accreditation.

State authorities are responsible for setting licensing standards to protect the public. The longstanding practice has been to eschew graduation standards in favor of curricular requirements. In so doing, creativity and innovation in program planning within colleges and universities have been stifled. Now that states are turning to tests of basic literacy and knowledge about teaching as requirements for obtaining a teaching credential, they must get out of the business of prescribing the teacher education curriculum. ...

Postulate 19. Programs for the education of educators must be protected from the vagaries of supply and demand by state policies that allow neither backdoor “emergency” programs nor temporary teaching licenses.

Over and over, morally driven efforts to mount first-rate teacher education programs have been defeated by this action or that designed to relieve teacher shortages or satisfy special group interests. ... There are more appropriate ways to bring able people into schools and classrooms who are not certified or who have not yet made up their minds to teach. Providing them with licenses of any kind is a disservice to them and certainly to the teaching profession. When temporary licenses are granted, we make a mockery of all the postulates listed above.

Teachers For Our Nation’s Schools. John I. Goodlad. 1990. Jossey-Bass Publishers. Reprinted by permission.

A version of this article appeared in the October 24, 1990 edition of Education Week as Excerpts From Goodlad’s Book, Teachers for Our Nation’s Schools


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: February 7, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: January 31, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: January 17, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education In Their Own Words The Stories That Stuck With Us, 2023 Edition
Our newsroom selected five stories as among the highlights of our work. Here's why.
4 min read
102523 IMSE Reading BS
Adria Malcolm for Education Week