The «New» Foundations of Teacher Education – A Reader – Revised edition
Edited By Eleanor Blair
8. Reworking Industrial Models, Exploring Contemporary Ideas, and Fostering Teacher Leadership
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Reworking Industrial Models, Exploring Contemporary Ideas, and Fostering Teacher Leadership
Christopher Steel and Elizabeth Craig
Ask any American to describe the basic operational structure of a typical public school in the United States, and he or she can probably do it with great accuracy. The systems and processes of schooling in this country are remarkably standardized and make education perhaps the most familiar of public institutions. One could also reasonably claim that, until recently, public education has been the nation’s most unchanging entity.
For over a century, public schools have conformed to an industrial production model.1 No sooner had Henry Ford discovered the efficiency of the assembly line than educators began to apply similar logic to the “production” of educated citizens. As a society, we came to believe that students could be placed on a metaphorical conveyor belt at the start of their school years and, provided the machine was properly constructed, would step off at the end with all the necessary skills and knowledge to enter adulthood. The role of the teacher was quickly equated with that of the assembly-line worker, who would add some small subset of the requisite educational “parts” to the student/product.
For better or worse, this industrial model of education became the basis for how all those involved in the educational enterprise viewed the role of teachers. The marvel of the assembly line is that each worker needs...
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