Emphasize scholarship and teaching, K-12 expert urges

A renewed commitment to scholarship and a willingness to turn a critical eye on the teaching and learning processes are essential first steps in UC Davis' mission to improve K-12 education.

That was the message that Lee S. Shulman, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, delivered to a University Club audience Monday. Shulman's speech was the third and final lecture of the Chancellor's Forum Series on "The Role of the Research I University in the Future of K-12."

In his talk, Shulman urged members of the higher education community to be willing to assess and make public their own experiences as teachers. In order to make a positive impact on K-12 education, Shulman named several steps that universities, including UC Davis, must be willing to take. These include:

  • Renewing a commitment to scholarship. Shulman said that it is up to the universities to recognize the scholarship that exists in both higher education and at the K-12 level.
  • Understanding scholarship as the common ground between K-12 education and higher education.
  • A willingness to take a break and examine the processes as teachers and learners.

•A willingness to share the results of the self-assessment.

"I don't know where we in the university can earn the standing to advise and guide our colleagues in K-12 if we are not ourselves studying our own practice as teachers," said Shulman in his appeal for a renewed commitment to scholarship.

He urged educators to take advantage of their own "rich and exciting laboratories of human learning." When they do this, Shul-

man said, the issue becomes not what is being taught in educational institutions, but what the institutions are doing with respect to the teaching and learning themselves.

Schulman described Ph.D. programs as "teacher training program(s) with no teacher training," and he called upon universities to "educate the educators." In a world where scholarship is about disciplines and domains, Shulman said, "We watch fields grow and complain that, as educators, we don't know anything more than predecessors may have known a century ago."

Shulman proposed that active engagement in the scholarship of teaching should become a mission for all levels of the education, and he urged those in higher education to take the initiative. That means, he said, that educators need to take breaks.

"Scholarship doesn't really begin," he said, "until skilled practitioners, who can smoothly and almost habitually do their work in an even flow, get interrupted and have to step back and re-examine what it is that they are doing."

But, according to Shulman, higher education should not stop there. "Scholars have a moral obligation," he said, "to ensure that the hard-won learning we experience does not perish."

Educators must share the results of their self-assessments. "Learning is too precious to be hoarded by an individual," Shulman said.

In response to Shulman's talk, panelist Patricia Gandara, a UC Davis associate professor in the Division of Education, said that "teachers must be open to learning" from one another. In order to prepare teachers to work in diverse classrooms, Gandara said, they must be provided with opportunities to work with good teacher models.

Panelist Dave Gordon, superintendent for the Elk Grove Unified School District, asked the university to support K-12 education by helping with technological research and by putting university faculty into the public schools.

Media Resources

Amy Agronis, Dateline, (530) 752-1932, abagronis@ucdavis.edu

Primary Category