Rationale for Brown Program of Teaching, Learning and Working with Children
Current research and thinking on teacher education suggests that the professional development school methodology is more effective than theoretical coursework for practitioners [Hall, Shaklee]. That is, it’s better to place candidates and address their in-service concerns than to discuss pedagogy in the abstract tower of academia and then throw the graduate to their students in the pit of the school system.
Thus, through Kolb journals and Socratic Seminars, the in-service teachers, student teachers, and other child-care workers will work together to come to greater understandings of how to better deal with real situations in their current placements with their actual students. Moreover, this repetitive reflective journaling, should inculcate reflective teaching practice and thus, engender reflective practitioners [Babiak].
In addition to reflective practice, improvement through observation and feedback is currently underutilized. Therefore, more observation and videotaped classes so the teacher can see what s/he would like to change, modify and improve. Through viewing ourselves on video, often we discover habits such as calling on one gender more than another, looking more to the left than the right, having a verbal or physical tick [Tindle, Goldberg].
First year teachers need more inspiration and less advanced methodologies and theories. In other words: they need to survive [Goldberg, Babiak]. Thus, this program will select fewer strategies and theories, and just those that are research based and classroom tested. Less reading – more implementation.
Finally, as Dr. Nicholas Paley suggests in the foreward to Finding Art’s Place, ignoring the impact of the observers’ preferences/subjectivity belies the results. Some of the methods, strategies, underlying theories are included because they have influenced and/or concur with my personal philosophy of teaching. That’s not to say that teachers in the program need to agree: there were certainly theorists and philosophers we studied in my program with whom I felt I could disagree about one or more aspects. However, the selected readings, methods and strategies will drive the discussion, and may include Rousseau, Montessori, Freire, Vygotsky, Hooks, Delpit, Tredway, Kidder and Fried.