Tomorrow's Teachers The Holmes Group Notes

The Holmes Group. (1986). Tomorrow's teachers: A report of the Holmes Group. Michigan: The Holmes Group.

A Shared Agenda

·      "Paradoxically, teachers are the butt of most criticism, yet singled out as the one best hope for reform (p. 3)."

·      The Holmes Group is composed of deans from major research institutions whose goals are to reform teacher education and the teaching profession.

·      Goals: (all quoted from p. 4)

o   "To make the education of teachers intellectually more solid.'

o   "To recognize differences in teachers' knowledge, skill, and commitment, in their education, certification, and work."

o   "To create standards of entry to the profession - examinations and educational requirements - that are professionally relevant and intellectually defensible. "

o   "To connect our own institutions to schools."

o   "To make schools better places for teachers to work, and to learn."

·      "Unfortunately that learning typically has been lonely, and catch-as-catch-can. It has been more a matter of daily survival in a difficult job than progress toward professional improvement (p. 5)."

·      An Agenda for Improving a Profession

o   "Teacher education has long been intellectually weak; this further eroded the prestige of an already poorly esteemed profession, and it encouraged many inadequately prepared people to enter teaching (p. 6)."


A Common Understanding of the Obstacles

·      "They (teachers) still teach classes all day long, with little or no time for preparation, analysis, or evaluation of their work. They still spend all of their professional time alone with students, leaving little or no time for work with other adult professionals to improve their knowledge and skills. Nor are they thought worthy of such endeavors or capable of developing the requisite expertise (p. 7)."

·      "The first requirement is jobs that will challenge and reward the best minds now in teaching, and that will attract others just as good (p. 8)."

·      They propose a differentiated system of three types of teachers: Career Professionals, Professional Teachers, and Instructors.

·      Career professionals: "They would be people at the top of their field, who have proven their excellence in teaching, in their own education, and in examinations. They would play a role in education not unlike that of clinical professors in medicine (p. 8)."

·      Professional Teachers are "...people who have proven their competence at work, in rigorous professional qualification examinations, and in their own education (p. 8)."

·      Instructors are novice teachers: "They would be beginning teachers, whose job would last only a few years. The entrance requirements would be flexible. Bright college graduates with a solid academic background in one or two subjects, and who could pass an entrance exam, would be welcome (p. 9)."

·      Changes Required in Teacher Licensing

o   Instructor

§  "In addition, no teacher should be allowed to practice as an independent professional without at least a year of carefully supervised practice, and advanced study in pedagogy and human learning. Since beginning Instructors will have met neither of these requirements, they should be licensed to practice only under the direct supervision of a fully certified professional (pp. 10-11)."

o   Professional Teacher

§  First full certificate

§  Requires master's degree

§  Pedagogical content knowledge (didn't use that term but referred to the concept): "This means practical and varied demonstrations of professional skills and knowledge. They could include carefully assembled portfolios of teaching and/or studies of one's own practice, planned exhibitions of one's teaching, and unannounced observations of the candidate's classroom performance (p. 12)."

§  Are child advocates

o   Career Professional

§  Completion of all requirements of professional teacher

§  Extensive experience

§  Outstanding performance

§  Further specialized study

§  "Career Professional Teachers would possess the knowledge and skill essential to improving the educational effectiveness of other adults in schools (p. 40)."

o   "New forms of examination for professional competence also would have to be devised and tested, so that practitioners could be certified on the basis of proven professional competence rather than competence as a student of a subject (p. 14)."

·      Changes Required in Universities and Schools

o   Changes require relationships through partnerships between schools and universities.

o   Eliminating the undergraduate education major and having all students major in a specialized area is a recommendation for strengthening the profession.

o   Elementary teachers: "But few of them know much about anything, because they are required to know a little of everything (p. 14)."

o   "The undergraduate education that intending teachers receive is full of the same bad teaching that litters American high schools (p. 16)."

o   Restructuring the higher education curriculum is necessary: "A second step is to organize academic course requirements and courses so that undergraduate students can gain a sense of the intellectual structure and boundaries of their disciplines, rather than taking a series of disjointed, prematurely specialized fragments (p. 16)."

o   Programs need to be coherent supporting both content knowledge and advanced pedagogical skills.

o   "One important and large line of work must focus on the pedagogy of specific subjects. Generic undergraduate 'methods' courses must be replaced with subject matter-oriented studies of teaching and learning (p. 17)."

o   In order to marry content and pedagogy, faculty cooperation is required.

o   "But their (scholars who have investigated merging pedagogy and content) work - while absolutely central to improving teaching and learning, in schools or in higher education - is fragmented and little esteemed in universities. If substantial change in teaching and learning is to occur, whether in schools or universities, scholars of this sort should be brought together. Their efforts should be focused on the improvement of instruction in academic subjects, and they should be supported heavily enough by their universities to recruit other good minds (p. 18)."

o   "Finally, along with all of these changes, our schools and universities must open up new connections with schools. One connection would be to bring expert teachers into universities, as more important and more responsible participants in professional education (p. 19)."

o   "There are few rewards for such work (collaboration with schools) in the incentive structure of research universities. There are no titles, job descriptions - or even places to sit in schools - for such emissaries from higher education. And there are few precedents for managing the complex jobs that swim in the limbo between agencies (p. 19)."

·      Conclusion


A Common Understanding of the Obstacles

·      "Curriculum plans, instructional materials, elegant classrooms, and even sensitive and intelligent administrators cannot overcome the negative effects of weak teaching, or match the opsitive effects of competent teaching (p. 23)."

·      "Although leadership, resources, and working conditions in schools influence those who enter and choose to remain in the classroom, they do not affect students' learning as directly as do teachers (p. 23)."

·      "The entire formal and informal curriculum of the school is filtered through the minds and hearts of classroom teachers, making the quality of school learning dependent on the quality of teachers (p. 23)."

·      "The rewards and career opportunities for teachers; the standards, nature, and substance of professional education; the quality and coherence of the liberal arts and subject matter fields; and the professional certification and licensing apparatus must all be changed together, in a mutually compatible fashion (p. 23)."

·      Overly Simple Solutions

o   Henry Holmes, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education in the 1920s, was the visionary for teacher professionalism. "He pleaded with his colleagues in the schools of education to prepare teachers who had 'the power of critical analysis in a mind broadly and deeply informed (p. 24).'" The quote is from p. 24 in the Holmes text. There is no page number listed for the interior quote nor is there a citation.

o   "Plans to improve teacher education must be inextricably tied to plans to improve the occupation of teaching (p. 26)."

o   Successful reform requires the participation of both teachers and teacher educators.

o   "Recent scholarship in implementation demonstrates the essential role that teachers themselves play in the reform process and how critical it is to avoid assuming that initiatives imposed from above will have any predictable or desirable effects on teaching and learning (p. 26)."

o    "Further, new partnerships between the schools and institutions of professional education are necessary (pp. 26-27)."

·      Naïve Views of Teaching

o   "If teaching is conceived as highly simple work, then any modestly educated person with average abilities can do it. But if teaching is conceived as a responsible and complex activity that is clearly related to both group learning and individual learner success - including those children for whom learning is not easy and for whom lots of help at home is unavailable - then teaching requires special selection and preparation (p. 27)."

o   One-way Teaching

§  This view of teaching suggests that responsibility for learning rests on the students' shoulders not the teachers.

§  "Such views assume that bright, well-educated individuals can draw on their accumulated knowledge to develop coherent, logical presentations which can be delivered and hence learned by students in orderly classrooms (p. 27)."

§  "The teacher's responsibility is only to develop and deliver lessons in some reasonable fashion; the onus for learning rests with the students (p. 27)."

§  "Unfortunately, simple models of teaching are often most attractive to bright, studious individuals who took major responsibility for their own learning as students - once they were pointed in the general direction by a 'presenting' teacher (p. 28)."

o   Interactive Teaching as the Hallmark of Competent Professionals

§  "Central to the vision are competent teachers empowered to make principled judgments and decisions on their students' behalf. They possess broad and deep understanding of children, the subjects they teach, the nature of learning and schooling, and the world around them. They exemplify the critical thinking they strive to develop in students, combining tough-minded instruction with a penchant for inquiry. Students admire and remember them many years after leaving school, since such competence and dedication in teaching are unfortunately not as common as they should be. Competent teachers are careful not to bore, confuse, or demean students, pushing them instead to interact with important knowledge and skill. Such teachers interpret the understandings students bring to and develop during lessons; they identify students' misconceptions, and question their surface responses that mask true learning (pp. 28-29)."

o   Professional Teaching and Children's Learning

§  "Conducting classes in routine, undemanding ways, far too many teachers give out directions, busywork, and fact-fact-fact lectures in ways that keep students intellectually passive, if not actually deepening their disregard for learning and schooling (pp. 29-30)."

§  "Aware that our contemporary problems are rooted more in unresponsive, bureaucratic institutions than in recalcitrant individuals, competent teachers and teacher educators are prepared to participate in the reconstitution of public schooling. But the naïve views that keep teaching limited to giving out information and instructions must first be overcome (p. 31)."

·      Institutions Unfit for Teacher Professionals

o   "Teaching in the United States evolved as convenient, respectable, and relatively challenging employment for bright and energetic workers who were 'passing through,' en route to more serious life commitments. It was constructed as a job, rather than a profession; and it accommodated talented short-timers as well as those educated minorities and single women with few other choices for employment (p. 32)."

o   A Differentiated Profession

§  Differentiated staffing: "Differentiating the teaching career would be advantageous to individuals, public schools, and professional schools of education. It would make it possible for districts to go beyond limited financial incentives and to challenge and reward commitment. This is essential to encourage teachers to reinvest in their work, and earn rewards while remaining in their classrooms; it will also counterbalance the defection of talented, committed teachers into administration (p. 36)."

§  "Just as the knowledge, skills, and sense of professional responsibility developed in teacher education programs affect the behavior of teachers, the working conditions and career structure of teaching influence the standards, structure, and content of teacher education (p. 37)."

§  "To create a market for professionally trained teachers with advanced graduate credentials, it is essential to provide expanded career opportunities and rewards in teaching. Otherwise prospective teachers will have few incentives to invest in the demanding professional education essential to competent teaching (p. 37)."

§  "Opportunities for educational leadership must be combined with teaching itself to keep such teachers actively committed to improving their schools (p. 40)."

§  "Rational, differentiated professional staffing in schools that is based upon defensive differences in training, authority, and responsibilities, will make it possible to respond fairly to the complexities of teaching and learning in large, diverse institutions (p. 41)."

·      The Pitfalls of Credentialism

o   "By misrepresenting what practitioners can actually do, credentialing can ultimately erode the public's trust in the quality of a profession (p. 42)."

o   Irresponsible Credentialism

§  Psuedocredentialism: "Teacher educators must not simply add on course requirements, or demand a fifth year of training, without rethinking the value of such changes. Nor must they endorse standardized examinations that do not reflect the range of knowledge, skills, and dispositions characteristic of competent professional practice. Teaching and teacher education cannot afford to imitate many of the professionalization strategies that other occupations have employed (p. 44)."

o   Responsible Credentialism

§  "Professionally educated and certified teachers would possess a strong liberal arts and disciplinary background, a repertoire of imaginative teaching and coaching skills, and a commitment to the responsibility for the learning of all children (p. 46)."

·      Problems in Undergraduate Liberal Education

·      Inadequate Professional Education

o   "Improving teaching requires teachers to act on legitimate professional knowledge, skills, and an ethos of responsibility (p. 50)."

o   "The first is the study of teaching and schooling as an academic field with its own integrity. The second is knowledge of the pedagogy of subject matter - the capacity to translate personal knowledge into interpersonal knowledge, used for teaching. A related third component is comprised of the skills and understandings implicit in classroom teaching - creating a communal setting where various groups of students can develop and learn. The fourth consists of the dispositions, values and ethical responsibilities that distinguish teaching from the other professions. Finally, all these aspects of professional studies must be integrated into the clinical experience where formal knowledge must be used as a guide to practical action (p. 51)."

o   Preservice teachers, too!!!: "Students do not approach learning as empty vessels; they more likely present the teacher with initial conceptions that are incomplete, flawed, or otherwise in need of transformation (p. 53)."

o   Professional dispositions: "Creating and sustaining a communal setting respectful of individual differences and group membership, where learning is valued, engagement is nurtured, and interests are encouraged require more than a set of identifiable skills. The successful transmission of these attitudes and values is more a function of the teacher's dispositions and beliefs that come to imbue the classroom culture (p. 54)."

o   RELATE TO HYBRIDS???: "The academic pedagogical studies available in colleges of education routinely fail to develop such essential professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions in the teachers they prepare (p. 54)."

o   "Virtually every evaluator of the traditional teacher education program finds that the graduates attribute their success as teachers to their student teaching experience or to their first years in the classroom (p. 54)."

o   "The typical student teaching experience is not a genuine laboratory experience because the possibilities of failure and risk are minimal. The emphasis is upon imitation of and subservience to the supervising teacher, not upon investigation, reflection, and solving novel problems (p. 55)."

o   "Methods and content courses need to be complementary and compatible with one another and develop an ethic of inquiry and professional judgment (p. 55)."

o   "Clinical experiences must occur in multiple sites to provide learning opportunities with youngsters of diverse ability, motivation, and cultural backgroun (p. 55)."

·      Lack of Demonstration Sites

o   "Professional Development Schools, the analogue of medical education's teaching hospitals, would bring practicing teachers and administrators together with university faculty in partnerships that improve teaching and learning on the part of their respective students (p. 56)."

o   "They (PDSs) would provide superior opportunities for teachers and administrators to influence the development of their profession, and for university faculty to increase the professional relevance of their work, through (1) mutual deliberation on problems with student learning and their possible solutions; (2) shared teaching in the university and schools; (3) collaborative research on the problems of educational practice; and (4) cooperative supervision of prospective teachers and administrators (p. 56)."

o   "The concept of Professional Development Schools assumes that improving teaching ultimately depends on providing teachers with opportunities to contribute to the development of knowledge in their profession, to form collegial relationships beyond their immediate working environment, and to grow intellectually as they mature professionally (p. 56)."

o   "The idea of such collaborative sites also recognizes that university-based research and instruction in education must have strong roots in the practice of teaching if they are to maintain their intellectual vitality and its credibility with the profession (p. 56)."

o   "The clinical faculty - comprised largely of accomplished elementary and secondary teachers - would have attained the stage of Career Professional Teacher and successfully completed advanced studies in teacher education (pp. 56-57)."

o   PDS as models of exemplary practice: "They would be actual demonstration sites where recent scholarship could be consistently reviewed and selectively incorporated into operating policy and practice. The most innovative professional practices would be developed, demonstrated, and critically evaluated at these sites (p. 57)."

o   "They would also offer talented persons who enter teaching, who love it and want to improve it, a means of advancing without leaving the classroom, physically or psychologically (p. 58)."


A Collective Commitment to Action

·      "But none of the reform proposals has addressed the central issue in the improvement of teaching - the professional stature of teachers. Until this is addressed, we will continue to attempt educational reform by telling teachers what to do, rather than empowering them to do what is necessary (p. 61)."

·      "Teacher education cannot be improved in isolation from the profession itself (p. 62)."

·      To Make the Education of Teachers Intellectually Sound

o   "Competent teaching is a compound of three elements: subject matter knowledge, systematic knowledge of teaching, and reflective practical experience (p. 62)."

o   In order to be considered a profession, teaching needs a specialized knowledge base.

o   Teachers must have a strong knowledge base in both content and pedagogy.

o   "Clinical experience is the final element of the intellectual foundation of teaching. Despite the fact that clinical experience is almost universally praised by teachers, it presents some of the most serious problems with existing teacher education. The clinical component of teacher education must be integrated more systematically with research on professional practice, with the reconstruction of the pedagogical curriculum, and with the development of the profession (p. 64)."

·      To Recognize Differences in Knowledge, Skill, and Commitment Among Teachers

·      To Create Relevant and Defensible Standards of Entry to the Profession of Teaching

·      To Connect Schools of Education with Schools

o   "The improvement of teacher education depends on the continuing development of systematic knowledge and reflective practice (p. 66)."

o   PDS is a setting for the mutual exchange of theory and practice.

·      To Make Schools Better Places for Practicing Teachers to Work and Learn