Northwestern U. Creates Graduate Program For Prospective Teachers in Private Schools

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Skeptical of the educational value of courses required of public-school teachers to meet state certification requirements, and lacking the faculty resources to offer such courses, Northwestern University's school of education has created a program to train private-school teachers.

Begun this fall, the program is designed for graduate students and leads to a master of science degree.

"With this new program, we will not be hamstrung by many of the state certification requirements that we do not feel are appropriate," said B. Claude Mathis, professor of education and psychology and director of the school's Center for the Teaching Profession.

"States tend to add requirements for certification that simply detract from the amount of time [education] students can spend in their subject area," he said. "We are adding a fifth year and aiming it at [training teachers and others for] the private sector so we can control what goes into that fifth year."

In addition to private-school teachers, the program, which can be completed in approximately 12 months, is designed for students who will use education skills in non-school settings--such as staff-trainers in corporate settings.

Sidesteps State Requirements

Mr. Mathis also said many Northwestern students who want to become teachers usually have a liberal-arts undergraduate degree and are not interested in taking the kinds of courses--such as those in mainstreaming or bilingual and multi-cultural education--often required to earn a public-school teaching certificate.

"What we're doing is bringing liberal-arts students into teaching," Mr. Mathis said.

"The state requirements also dilute our [faculty] resources," added Annegret Harnischfeger, professor of education and coordinator of the new master's program.

The program will consist of 14 quarter-long courses. Seven of them, including child development and counseling, make up a required core curriculum. Courses such as "private schooling" and "boarding settings" are among those offered specifically for prospective private-school teachers.

The program will be geared "more toward the practical aspects of teaching, and less toward research," according to Ms. Harnischfeger.

She added that the master's program will also be open to public-school teachers who have already met state certification requirements.--tt

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