The mission of the Watson College of Education is to develop knowledgeable and proficient education professionals dedicated to improving schools and society. We address this mission by:
- Providing academically rigorous programs;
- Producing and using meaningful scholarship;
- Partnering with schools, organizations and diverse communities;
- Advancing the profession.
Decades of educational research demonstrate that outstanding education professionals must know their content, know how to effectively engage learners and assess learning, and embrace and enact appropriate dispositions and values (Darling-Hammond, 2010; Goodlad, 1990; Shulman, 1987). Our mission, which guides the work of our faculty and staff in preparing education professionals, is predicated on the following set of values:
Advocacy to improve schools and society is an obligation of education professionals.
Advocacy requires us to act on behalf of individuals and groups and to address social concerns. To do this work, we use professional knowledge and skills and exercise value judgments to determine what we should advocate. Advocacy is dependent on our communicative methods; it is tied to relevant life experiences; and it often forces us to work “outside of our comfort zones” (Newman & Bauer, 2005). Advocacy is active; it connects thought to action. It implies that we operate with certain beliefs and attitudes that will influence social and educational change (Mundy & Murphy, 2001).
Recognizing and utilizing the value of difference is a requisite to maximize human development.
Our society is diverse in culture, language, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, social class, sexual identity, ability, age, and ideology. Diversity strongly influences who we are, how we learn, and how we teach. Freire (1997) argues that teachers are cultural workers, with a responsibility to identify their own socio-cultural positions and to recognize those of their students. He adds that responsibility should be conceived of as our “ability to respond.” We strive to respond appropriately to difference, to recognize how socio-cultural positions affect teaching, and to draw upon the value of difference to create meaningful learning experiences.
Education professionals must uphold ethical standards to ensure just and respectful educational practices.
High quality education, that is, education that positively nurtures intellectual, emotional and social growth, must also include a consideration of what is right and wrong and the influence of time and context on such conceptions. Ethical attitudes and dispositions are shaped by moral perspectives and those perspectives help to determine ethical behaviors (Como, 2011; Purtillo, 2005). We find two ethical theories particularly relevant: an ethic of justice (which represents egalitarian beliefs and behaviors) and an ethic of care (which represents being responsive and trusting). Both of these theories allow us to connect personal issues with larger structural ones such that we can examine the system of education with respect to individual rights, collective responsibility, and institutional governance (Noddings, 2010).
Understanding global perspectives and practices inspires connections to erase the boundaries that divide us.
Education must be viewed as global in nature, grounded in an understanding of teaching and learning as interdependent, tied to issues of human rights and global citizenship, and that works toward creating sustainable processes that govern what we do (Peters, 2009). Global education is not just about examining people, cultures, and technologies. It is fundamentally about looking inward to study ourselves, our interactions, our systems, and our products. In this way, it allows for deep and broad reflection in intrapersonal and interpersonal ways.
Generating and adopting innovations is imperative to meet the changing needs of society.
In education, the mark of innovation is its ability to transform (Giannakaki, 2005). This process usually involves five steps: to consider the innovation; to develop an opinion about its possibilities; to decide to use or not; to employ the new idea; and to determine that the innovation was indeed an appropriate one (Rogers, 1984). Innovation needs to be viewed as a continual process of creativity and regeneration in light of the rapidly changing nature of the world in which we live.
A lifelong attitude of inquiry is at the core of transformative education.
Inquiry is grounded in our ability to question, to investigate, to explore, and to problem-solve. It requires an ability to reflect and can lead us to innovate. Johnston (2009) applied Dewey’s theory of inquiry to education and argued that inquiry is context-bound, problem-driven, and self-correcting. In short, inquiry can operate differently depending on the context or discipline; it depends on the study of a particular problem or question; and it unifies, that is, it moves from a focus on discriminate parts to a reconstituted whole. Johnston (2009) points out that “all inquiry is transformative” (p. 8), which suggests that inquiry can serve as a catalyst for personal and social change.
Development of nurturing environments is essential for growth, positive relationships and new ideas.
When we nurture, we care for, attend to, and believe in an individual, group, organization, idea, or process. Nurturing depends on the establishment of relationships of trust and facilitates social, emotional and intellectual growth (Binnie & Allen, 2008). It is organic, contingent upon context and invariably different when shaped by those contexts. Nurturing environments are vital for academic learning, personal growth, positive relationships and reimagined practices and structures.
Continual reflection is critical for learning, growth and change.
Reflecting represents thoughtful consideration, an attunement to a moment, idea, interaction, circumstance, and/or process. Dewey (1910) described reflection as a condition that involves “mental unrest” (p. 13). It allows us to re-constitute information such that we reconstruct or reinterpret the meaning of an experience (Clark, 2009; Rodgers, 2002; Schon, 1986). In the act of reflecting, we become better practitioners, able to identify what we do well and what needs improvement and, from there, to make appropriate change.
- Binnie, L. M. & Allen, K. (2008). Whole school support for vulnerable children: The evaluation of a part-time nurture group. Emotional & Behavioral Difficulties 13(3), 201-216. doi:10.1080/13632750802253202
- Clark, P. G. (2009). Reflecting on reflection in interprofessional education: Implications for theory and practice. Journal of Interprofessional Care 23(3), 213-223.
- Como, J. (2011). Care and caring: A look at history, ethics, and theory. International Journal for Human Caring 11(4), 37-45.
- Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The flat world and education: How America’s commitment to equity will determine our future. New York: Teachers College Press.
- Dewey, J. (1910). How we think: Boston: D. C. Heath.
- Freire, P. (1997). Teachers as cultural workers: Letters to those who dare teach. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
- Giannakaki, M. S. (2005). The implementation of innovation in school. In A. Kapsalis (Ed.). Management and administration of schools (pp. 243-276). Thesseloniki: University of Makedonia Press.
- Goodlad, J. (1990). Teachers for our nation's schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Johnston, J. S. (2009). Deweyan inquiry: From education theory to practice. Albany: State University of New York Press.
- Mundy, K. & Murphy, L. (2001). Transnational advocacy, global civil society? Emerging evidence from the field of education. Comparative Education Review 45(1), 85-126).
- Newman, W. & Bauer, V. (2005). Incitement to advocate: Advocacy education of future librarians of University of Toronto’s faculty of information studies. Feliciter 51(1), 41- 43.
- Noddings, N. (2010). Moral education in an age of globalization. Educational Philosophy & Theory 42(4), 390-396.
- Peters, L. (2009). Global education: Using technology to bring the world to your students. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.
- Purtillo, R. (2005). Ethical dimensions in the health professions (4th ed.). Philadelphia: Elevier.
- Rodgers, C. (2002). Defining reflection: Another look at John Dewey and reflective thinking. Teachers College Record 104, 842-866.
- Rogers, E. M. (1984). Diffusion of innovation (2nd ed.). New York: Free Press.
- Schon, D. (1986). Educating the reflective practitioner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Shulman, L. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57 (1), 1-22.