Professors of Teaching
John M. Novak
In 1989, Richard Wisniewski and Edward R. Ducharme edited The
Professors of Teaching: An Inquiry. In the Introduction, Harry
Judge noted that teacher education is institutionally weak and
intellectually uncertain. Is that true where you work? Is that
true about the type of work you do? If this is true, what should
you, and we, do about it?
This issue of Professing Education looks at institutional and
intellectual concerns of professors of education. Certainly teacher
education is an important area of interest for the educational
professoriate, but our mission moves beyond preparing and sustaining
teachers for and in their work in schools. Our work also includes
the development of education as a field of study and an exploration
and improvement of the educative process in and beyond schools.
Professing education takes many forms and includes the development
of insightful ways of studying educational phenomena and the
construction of defensible knowledge claims about matters of
The six contributions to this issue explore the nature of the
work of professors of education. In the first essay, Jan Armstrong
provides a brief history of the Society of Professors of Education.
Starting in 1902 as the Society of College Teachers of Education,
the name was changed to the National Society of College Teachers
of Education in 1909 and changed again in 1969 to the Society
of Professors of Education. With these name changes came other
changes that Armstrong lists. What changes do you foresee regarding
the nature of our work? What changes would you like to see? Does
the name, "the Society of Professors of Education," represent
a defensible identity in this age of specialization?
After her overview of the Society of Professors of Education's
history, Jan Armstrong does double duty and hones in on one member,
former president Douglas J. Simpson. Simpson is a prolific scholar
on John Dewey and teacher education and is a thoughtful person
in all respects. In the interview he warns professors of education
not to ignore ideas and skills that are immediately useful to
classroom teachers and administrators. The importance of a grounded
and imaginative approach to various facets of the educative process
is stressed. How do you make practice intelligible and theory
useful in your work? Are many of your students too young or inexperienced
to appreciate the importance of going beyond techniques?
Professing education is not limited to the academy. Allan Jones,
editor of Caddo Gap Publishing, shows how he contributes to the
profession by reading, reviewing, selecting, revising, and publishing
the works of his professional colleagues. Similar to his institutionalized
colleagues, his work involves many possibilities for accomplishment
and satisfaction. He also speaks to the importance of sustained
service to the profession. How many professors of education do
you know outside the academy? Does the academy encourage a very
narrow and homogenized notion of professing education?
In speaking about the profession, Andrew Short looks at the
gendered university environment in terms of the power possessed
and exercised by professors. His claim that powerful professions
represented in the academy are male dominated and encourage marginalizing
attitudes towards women deserves further analysis and discussion.
To what extent is this true in your university? Is it a matter
Gendered universities can also encourage gendered perspectives.
Karen Csoli shows how this works in the area of spirituality.
She points out that the spiritual portrayal of a man sitting
on a mountaintop represents a limited notion of spirituality.
Rather than emphasize solitude, female spirituality is found
in experiences that are communal and social. Her suggestion to
replace the spiritual image of the solitary man with the alternative
vision of a group of people sitting together opens up different
ways of being connected. Does this work for you? Would you want
to become part of that group?
The final essay is Jill Grose's review of Conflicting Paradigms
in Adult Literacy Education: In Quest of a U.S. Democratic Politics
of Literacy by George Demetrion. Grose appreciates the author's
attempt to find a Deweyan common ground among conflicting paradigms
and points out the difficulties of making this work in an accountability-driven
We hope you enjoy each of the contributions and appreciate the
authors' intentions to extend the conversation about the nature
of the educational professoriate beyond a narrow, technical conception
of teaching. A sense of history, focus, alternative professional
commitments, the workings of gender in universities and on mountaintops,
and a critical appraisal of new books should help make us all
be better professors of educational living.
Editors: John M. Novak & Kenneth
Associate Editors: Dirk Windhorst & Rahul Kumar
Publisher Coordinator: Robert C. Morris
Web Publishing by: Rahul Kumar & Herman Yu
For this and past issues,