Thinking about this while chatting yesterday with a doctoral student at a leading Ed School. The question: to what extent, if any, should "social justice" be taught to teachers?
My starting point: Does your program even have enough hours to cover all the most "basic" things? Does your program, for example, already generate elementary teachers who go on to get kids to become good readers? And if not, do you really have any time to spare?
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My question was shaped by the experience of our charter high school. Originally it was called "Media and Technology Charter High School." We did 2 things. We taught the college-pre basics. And we integrated media projects (in service of the first goal).
We hired 2 types of teachers -- regular and media. That's because there were few math, English, science, and history teachers around who integrated media themselves.
Sounded decent in theory. In real life, we struggled. We'd already made the "time pie" bigger for kids. After-school. Summers. But we still weren't getting them far enough along in reading, math, writing.
After 4 years, we realized we needed to put more resources into basics. So we made a big change. Despite our name, we stopped doing media and technology. We shifted the resources into tutoring for their core subjects.
Luckily, all our regular teachers supported the move. If they'd all been hybrid teachers with a strong interest in media, I'm not sure we could have pulled it off without wrecking the school. Same with our board of trustees. Luckily, they kinda liked the media theme, but loved the college prep mission. So if one of them had to go, they were comfortable with it being media. Just not enough time to do both well.
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My friend's response:
For an undergrad ed major, there's a ridiculous number of hours to work with. Like 40 hours within a single course, not including work outside of class...multiply that by 14 courses...and you're looking at 500 some odd hours to play with, plus whatever time you allow for homework, readings, and student teaching (1000 hours?)
The problem is, and I'll be the first to admit it, that time is often not used all that well. Ed Schools have a much deserved reputation for a lack of rigor (that goes back to the feminization and-marginalization of the profession). There's a lot of redundancy and lack of good scope/sequence planning. But if you took that 1500 hours and micro-planned it like your program, the grads would know how to teach reading well, plus know the "teacher moves" your trainees get, plus know the historical/philosophical perspective to be public intellectuals for social justice (that our program emphasizes).
I heard a professor estimate that only one in 13 ed school nationwide are doing a good job...I'd certainly believe it. If there was the sense of urgency that permeates teacher training in Teach For America, your thing, and the others...I can't imagine what you could do with a solid 4-5 years of university-based teacher ed.
A Phd thesis works like this: "Achieve X. Hold quality constant (a floor). Time is the variable."
A masters in education works more like this: "Time is constant. Therefore, results are the variable."
Hence the need for a) exit criteria, b) some sort of ability to extend time until someone reaches that level (or it becomes clear they won't reach it).