The Course of Teaching: Introduction

Lessons of a Century: Part Seven

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The men and women charged with educating the nation's young people occupy a special place in American society. Teaching has long been considered more than just a job--even a calling.

Yet, even though teachers are at the heart of the educational enterprise, they've had to struggle to gain competitive salaries, decent working conditions, and manageable class sizes.

They've also waged a broader, cyclical battle throughout the century for the respect and autonomy commanded by other professions. Collective action in the form of unionism has yielded clear benefits, but it has also cost educators dearly. Much of the public was dismayed by the rise of a more militant brand of teacher.

Outside pressure on what takes place inside the classroom has also been a perennial issue. Often, teachers have balked at being told what to teach--a debate that persists with today's standards movement.

The seventh installment of "Lessons of a Century," a yearlong Education Week series of monthly special sections, looks at "The Course of Teaching."

Funding for this series is provided in part by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Ford Foundation.

PHOTO: Teachers have come a long way from the days of this one-room schoolhouse in Grundy County, Iowa. But they are still struggling to build a true profession.
—Arthur Rothstein/Library of Congress

Vol. 19, Issue 02, Page 30

Published in Print: September 15, 1999, as The Course of Teaching: Introduction
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