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ERIC Number: EJ909940
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0148-432X
Learning to Teach Nothing in Particular: A Uniquely American Educational Dilemma
Cohen, David K.
American Educator, v34 n4 p44-46, 54 Win 2010-2011
When inspectors visit construction sites to assess the quality of work, they do so against the building code, which typically is written out in detail and used to guide work and teach apprentices. When attending physicians supervise interns as they take patients' histories or check their blood pressure, they compare the interns' work with established procedures, many of which are written down and used to guide work and teach novices. In these cases and many others, the assessment of quality in workers' performance is framed by and conducted in light of occupational standards. That is not the case for teaching in U.S. K-12 schools. There are no common standards against which teachers' performance could be judged and no inspections of their performance in light of such standards. Because there is no common infrastructure for U.S. public education, it has developed several anomalous features. One of the most important concerns testing: because there is no common curriculum, it is impossible to devise tests that assess the extent of students' mastery of that curriculum. Teacher education is a second anomaly: absent a common curriculum, teachers-in-training could not learn how to teach it, let alone how to teach it well. Lacking an educational infrastructure to rely on, teacher assessment has also been generic, as have standards for the colleges and departments of education that educate teachers. The infrastructure to which the author refers is not radical or unfamiliar for education throughout the world; it is only radical in the United States. The author points out that without a defined K-12 curriculum for teachers to master, education schools tend to offer generic advice, not grounded content and pedagogical knowledge. (Contains 3 endnotes.)
American Federation of Teachers. 555 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001. Tel: 202-879-4400; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States