Bruno: Reform, Don't Eliminate, Education Majors
Historian David McCullough made edu-waves last week by claiming that Americans are "historically illiterate" in large part because too many teachers major in education rather than in a specific subject area. Robert Pondiscio seconds the argument and adds that because pedagogy is such a "pseudoscience" at this point, it probably doesn't make sense to have teachers organize their own education around it.
I'm happy to concede that a lot of college-level education coursework is neither helpful nor relevant to teachers-in-training. My own experience as a teacher is that I use what I learned from my cell biology BA far more frequently than what I learned from my education MA. (In fact, I probably also more often use what I learned from my philosophy BA.)
But while I think the status quo of teacher training could use real reform, it's not obvious to me that education degrees per se are the problem.
When we fret about teachers majoring exclusively in education, we're really thinking about elementary teachers; most secondary teachers already major in their subject (or one that is closely related). Elementary teachers, though, are multi-subject teachers and there is no college major that covers all of the content they will eventually need to teach. So even if all teachers were to, per McCullough, "major in a subject", elementary teachers in particular would still probably struggle to know enough about all of the subjects they are expected to teach.
Education degrees could potentially be a way around this problem if they were organized primarily around content rather than pedagogy. Of course, many weak programs are currently not even well-organized around pedagogy, but this makes the case for reforming the education degrees not eliminating them. After all, what would replace them? - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)