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Batt, James R. (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 20, Number 2 [3] (Summer 1974)

Heideman, Robert G.
Future alternatives in teacher education,   pp. 29-31


Page 30


        There is great need for faculties of
schools of education to coordinate their
                         program efforts-both
                    internally and externally.
   One alternative is to ignore the data and continue
to produce trained individuals in present or increas-
ing numbers. As catastrophic as this would appear,
there are many rational arguments to support this
alternative. They are based, in general, on two major
assumptions:
   (1) Individuals should be free to choose whatever
curriculum pattern they feel suits their needs and
abilities and not have their choice dictated by the
nature of the job market. This is supported by the
traditional view of a university or college being rela-
tively independent of strictly vocational pressures.
Up to now, in most institutions this has been the
operative strategy. But recent pressures of budgeting
and enrollment as well as a change in the needs of
college students are changing this approach. When-
ever possible, however, most schools and depart-
ments continue to resist administratively imposed
restrictions on enrollment, opting rather for open ad-
missions or departmentally self-imposed restrictions.
   (2) In the area of teacher education, many educa-
tors argue, teachers are prepared for much more than
teaching and the discipline of "education" transcends
utilitarian or vocational demands. The study of the
"process of education," they say, is one which is of
value to all students not just those planning to teach.
In view of the singular importance of education today
and the present dilemma of public schools and higher
education, this conclusion seems to be somewhat
justified.
  A second alternative is to arbitrarily reduce the
number of teachers being trained to meet projected
needs. As has been previously stated, this is being
done in a limited way and will probably increase
as an administrative mandate and as a result of
self-regulation by schools or departments specializing
in teacher training. The impact of this policy will
reach beyond the undergraduate level. Over 45 per-
cent of new Ph.D.'s in all disciplines enter teaching;
in some fields, notably the humanities, as many as
90 percent become teachers.
  An inherent danger in this approach, in addition to
restricting freedom of choice, is the risk of over-
reacting. Projections need to be very accurate to pre-
vent possible serious shortages. But the variables are
complex and difficult to estimate. Not only is there a
minimum time lag of four years involved in the prep-
aration of a teacher, but also nearly 80 percent of
the country's four-year colleges and universities have
teacher training programs which would have to be
coordinated. An additional factor which must be con-
sidered is that the shortages and oversupplies are
not uniform, but vary from field to field.
  The third alternative recognizes the manpower pro-
jections but involves a restructuring of teacher train-
ing to enhance its role in general education, as well
as teacher preparation, a posture which might signi-
ficantly increase, not decrease, enrollments. These
changes must be based on completely new premises
from those of the acquisition of primary academic
knowledge which were operative in the past. Quoting
again from the Carnegie Commission Report:
     "Change, once again, as from 1870 to 1910,
   now seems likely to proceed at an accelerated
   rate-not so fundamental in its essence as in that
   earlier period of change in the history of Ameri-
   can higher education:
     1. There are new types of students-more of
   them drawn from among minorities and low-
   income families but more of them also coming
   from the more affluent classes. Many in the for-
   mer group are more vocationally oriented and
   some in the latter group are more inclined to-
   ward political activity than have been most stu-
   dents in earlier times.
     2. There are new interests among students, re-
   gardless of their origin, such as in service ac-
   tivity, in creative expression, in their "emotional
   growth" in social problems.
     3. There is more and more new knowledge to
   be introduced into each field and into the content
   of general education-often more than can be
   absorbed easily.
     4. There is a new job market less capable of
   readily absorbing all college graduates, more
   fluctuating in its specific demands for trained
   talent.
     5. There are new social problems as a basis
   for research and service such as the problems of
   the metropolis and the physical environment.
     6. There is a new technology available, the
  most important for higher education in 500
  years.
  Working from these premises and others, a number
of possible alternatives based on constructive change
can be suggested for teacher training programs.
  There is a great need for faculties of schools of
education to coordinate their program efforts more
effectively both internally and externally. Internal
reorganization is needed to insure a "team approach"
to the solving of educational problems and external
coordination is needed to insure that the issues in-
volve the public schools and state and federal depart-
ments of education. A good model for cooperative
approaches to issue-oriented problems is that of suc-
cessful research and development centers such as the
one at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
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