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The Department of Educational Studies is committed to providing the foundations of knowledge in human development, schooling and education, teaching and learning, and assessment in order to foster democracy and honor diversity for emerging change agents' reflective practice that would allow them to apply and further these beliefs, knowledge, and skills in a variety of school contexts while raising awareness of social justice.
Our mission, reflected in the intertwining of our own research, teaching, service and advising is to put into practice the following goals, beliefs and commitments:
- Providing foundations of knowledge
We know that teaching, learning and schooling operate in three dimensions: past, present, and future. We believe that knowledge of all three dimensions is essential in understanding all aspects of schooling and education in the Twenty-First Century, including human development, schooling in all its forms, teaching on all levels, and the variety of assessments. We are committed to providing the historical, philosophical, and social foundations of schooling and teaching essential to professional development.
- Fostering democracy
Our department, like the college, acknowledges a firm commitment to democracy in schools and society. To us, acquisition of basic academic skills and knowledge is only a part of a robust education, and these basics provide a foundation upon which students (both K-12 and higher education) build a comprehensive understanding of what it means to be a participatory citizen. In our classes, future teachers come to understand the histories of democratic schooling, what it means to be a democratic teacher, and the intersections between democracy and a multicultural society. We are committed to helping future teachers from all programs and content areas acquire a repertoire of instructional strategies and practices that promote citizenship education and civic involvement.
- Honoring diversity
We know that schools across the US are seeing a major demographic change evident in the increase in students from cultural and linguistic backgrounds. We also recognize that many schools are challenged to assure these students' academic success. We believe that the affirmation of the diversity that students bring to the class can be used as a means to assure excellence in education. We are committed to helping future teachers honor and affirm the diversity of the individuals they will encounter in schools.
- Enabling emerging change agents
We know that for education to be meaningful there must be praxisan intersection of theory and practice. We recognize that students must presuppose a vision of the future and make it their daily practice to produce citizens that will achieve this future. We are committed to providing students opportunities to codify their beliefs of the future and put their beliefs into practice in all settings, educational and other.
- Promoting reflective practice
Our college's teacher education program standards address the importance of being a reflective practitioner. Reflective practice includes being knowledgeable about the field, specific content areas, and ways to translate information and skills to students. It also includes the disposition to collaborate in ways that support life-long learning and agency. We are committed to support future teachers as they learn to self assess and reflect on their beliefs and practices in ways that promote ongoing professional growth that enables them to support their students' learning and development at high levels.
- Encouraging students to apply and further their knowledge
We recognize that we don't produce "finished" teachers; thus we encourage our students to become lifelong learners and strive to see the interconnectedness inherent in active learning. We recognize that our students do not take our coursework disconnected from the broader professional world. We are committed to encouraging cross-curricular connections between our courses and others not just in the College of Education but across the university as an essential first step to producing students committed to continuing their professional development.
- Providing a variety of school contexts
We recognize that our students will teach in a variety of school settings, from rural to suburban to urban, both nationally and internationally. Contexts of schools also vary due to a myriad of factors such as school funding, student demographics, and the history of the school setting. We also recognize that every education professional is enriched by understanding how schooling operates differently in different settings. We are committed to providing students with a variety of experiences in several different school settings.
- Raising awareness of social justice
We recognize that schools are nested within the broader society. As such, schools reflect social inequalities (homelessness, unemployment, racism/sexism/homophobia, hunger, etc.). We believe that when any social community is in peril, our democracy is in peril. We are committed to helping develop future teachers who can recognize social inequalities and use their increasing professional competence and opportunities to address these inequalities.