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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

TEACHER EDUCATION - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

TEACHER EDUCATION. The history of teacher education in Cleveland reflects earlier national and state movements to begin normal schools, needed because of the establishment of the common school during the first half of the 19th century (1789-1860). Previously there was little or no interest in or need for teacher education. Teacher education in Cleveland can be traced to the 1830s. As early as 1836, Edward Deering Mansfield lectured on the qualifications of teachers before the College of Professional Teachers at Cincinnati. He noted 3 topics: subject matter, mode of teaching, and personal character. These same themes undergirded discussions about teacher education not only in Cleveland, but on national and state levels as well. Specifically, discussions revolved around the relationship and the importance of the liberal and the technical or professional coursework in the teacher-education curriculum. To this day the issues have not been resolved, and discussions continue at varying levels of intensity.

Specifically, teacher-education efforts in Greater Cleveland resulted from the Common School Law of 1836. Nelson Slater founded the Western Reserve Teacher's Seminary and Kirtland Institute in 1839. Many prominent citizens, such as Seabury Ford, served on the Board of Directors. The school was divided into 2 sections, the Teacher's Seminary, and the Institute for Scholars who wished to follow other pursuits. There was a model school, forerunner of laboratory schools, for children under 14, where prospective teachers of both sexes could gain some practical experience. The 2-year course of study consisted of critical reading, orthography, penmanship, arithmetic, and English grammar. In addition, there were lectures on the management of schools, teaching methods, and Ohio laws regulating the schools. The course attempted to provide students with both the liberal and technical attributes they would need to function well as teachers. To accommodate the students, fall terms closed in time for them to teach winter school, winter terms in time to teach summer school, and summer terms in time for the commencement of haying and harvesting. Fees were $18 per year. After the first year, Slater left the seminary and was replaced by Ada D. Lord, who had been a teacher. The school moved from its original site in the Kirtland Mormon Temple to the Methodist Church for a 10-year period. In 1847 Lord was succeeded by Dr. John Nichols, who supervised the building of a new facility in 1850. There were then about 200 students enrolled. Nichols resigned in 1853, and following his departure the school declined and finally closed due to competition from other new schools and financial problems.

Normal schools were a major initiative in the education of teachers for the Cleveland schools. In 1869 Cleveland school superintendent ANDREW J. RICKOFF† inaugurated a week-long training institute. Then he established the Cleveland City Normal School in 1872, which opened in 1874 on Eagle St. It was, felt that normal schools were necessary because they furnished a pool of trained persons for the Ohio schools and added a professional dimension, raising the standards for teachers. Requirements for admission included a Cleveland high school diploma or the equivalent. Only females attended this first Cleveland normal school, which was free to all residents of the city ages 16-21. Nonresidents and those over this age paid an annual tuition of $20. Support came from the public school fund, and control was vested in the Board of Education. Enrollment numbered about 40 students, the first class graduating 26. The curriculum included a review of material studied in the common schools and methods of teaching. The students also practiced in actual school settings, where they were supervised by "critic teachers." The students were then hired to teach in the Cleveland schools.

The period 1860-1910 was transitional, when normal schools were being scrutinized and other approaches to educating teachers were being considered. Many normal schools were transformed into professional schools and departments in liberal-arts colleges or into 4-year colleges, largely because educators defended the importance of educating potential teachers in the "science" of pedagogy and organized their efforts in the 1890s with the establishment of the Natl. Society for the Scientific Study of Education in 1901, originally the Herbart Society. The growth of the child-study movement and development of psychology also contributed to the "science of education." Liberal-arts professors responded negatively, emphasizing the art of teaching. These discussions led many to conclude that education did not deserve the status of a university discipline since it was inconsistent with the university aim of scientific research, lacked a body of literature that was acceptable, and relied on a weak faculty. There were also perennial comments about the caliber of students attracted to the field, particularly as it moved from a 2 to a 4-year curriculum. At that time, teacher-education curriculums and standards reflected both liberal and technical aspects.

Elements of these issues and movements could be found in what was occurring in Cleveland. When Dr. BURKE A. HINSDALE† became superintendent of the CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS in 1882, he reorganized the normal school. By 1893 kindergarten training was added to the curriculum. In 1905 SAMUEL P. ORTH†, president of the Cleveland Board of Education, appointed an education commission to study all aspects of the schools. It recommended that the normal school be redesigned. During the period ca. 1910 on, public school enrollments and curriculum expanded, increasing the demand for teachers in new roles and also requiring that more stringent standards be set. Ca. 1914, the state legislature passed legislation providing that teacher-training institutions be involved in improving teaching. So confident were they that that would lead, to the desired changes, they made this training prerequisite to certification without any type of examination. Expectations surpassed results, causing the legislature to pass a law making it necessary for all students entering teacher-training institutions to take statewide examinations in the use of English, general ability, and subject matter. As part of their high school preparation, they were to have taken American history and government, arithmetic, geography, physiology or biology including laboratory work, physics, or general science.

From 1915-20, a joint committee of the Cleveland Normal School, Western Reserve Univ., and the Cleveland Board of Education offered courses for practicing teachers who wished to qualify for salary increases and for a bachelor's degree. The next major initiative focused on the role of colleges in educating teachers. Wm. A. Bagley, a noted educator, chaired a CLEVELAND FOUNDATION commission on the professional training of teachers in Cleveland, which issued a report that led to a reorganization into the Cleveland School of Education. The commission report noted concern about the quality of teachers and addressed the necessity of meeting the need for additional teachers, noting that once that was achieved, a qualitative standard should be added that would be applied to admission, as well as curriculum. There was also much discussion about the requirements for the baccalaureate degree and the differences from the normal school background. Quality and salary of staff were also addressed. The commission noted that in the advanced education of elementary-school teachers, it was important that teachers have a clear understanding of the basic function of elementary education and its importance, and knowledge of materials and educational practices. In 1928 WRU organized its own school of education, into which were merged the Cleveland Kindergarten Primary Training School, a private school founded in 1894 to train teachers, and the Senior Teachers College, which was the name under which the joint committee of the school board and WRU had previously offered some preparation for secondary teachers in the College for Women (later Flora Stone Mather College) and Adelbert College. Later a department of education was established in Mather College, where both Mather and Adelbert students could take professional education courses for certification. In 1928, the university's School of Education was managed by a board of representatives of the Board of Education and the university. In 1945 the School of Education was disbanded, and its full-time women students were transferred to Mather College, its men students to Adelbert College. Courses for practicing teachers were transferred to Cleveland College. All professional education courses required for state certification were taken through the new Div. of Education.

Other colleges and universities in the Cleveland area also prepared teachers. Programs could be found at BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE, JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITY, NOTRE DAME COLLEGE OF OHIO, and URSULINE COLLEGE. ST. JOHN COLLEGE also educated teachers, mainly for Catholic parochial schools, until it closed in 1974. When CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY was established in 1965, a college of education was included, the first state-sponsored teacher-education facility in Cleveland. All of these colleges and universities continued educating teachers in the 1980s, with the exception of CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY., which phased out its education department in 1979, except for a limited program in art and music education. Baldwin-Wallace College, John Carroll Univ., and Ursuline College continue offering graduate programs in education, and Cleveland State Univ. began a doctoral program in 1987.

Moving into the 1960s and 1970s, teachers became involved in an effort to take over the responsibility for their training at the in-service level through the establishment of teacher centers, reflective of a national teacher-center movement. The movement took many forms, with some centers sponsored by school systems, others by institutions of higher education, others by independent agencies, and still others by combinations thereof. However, collaboration in program development was an important ingredient, and a somewhat new idea in teacher education. Basically the centers were places where teachers could gather to talk about teaching, obtain resources, and take workshops from each other and/or university and other educational personnel. They had their own governance boards, often composed of representatives of the profession. Cleveland had an early center, established in 1973, originally housed in the Cleveland Hts.-Univ. Hts. School District, and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and 3 local foundations. It provided services by and for teachers until its demise in 1979 due to loss of continued funding. Federal funds became available for the teacher-center movement in the late 1970s, allowing a coalition of educators to establish Teacher Ctr. 271 in 1976. This center was governed by a Board of Educators and operated until 1979, when it refocused its efforts into the Educational Computer Consortium of Ohio.

Other endeavors that provided professional development for both teachers and administrators continued in the form of the Ctr. for Professional Development instituted by John Carroll Univ. and several local school districts in 1981, and the Educational Development Ctr. begun by Cleveland State Univ. and local school districts in 1983. These organizations were representative of the movement to upgrade the professional development of educators in a collaborative effort using practitioners in the planning and implementation of the programs.

Early debates over the liberal and technical in teacher education still continued in the 1980s, though the scientific basis for teacher education, had become more established through an emerging knowledge base, which has grown out of major research efforts. Though teacher education has seen much progress from its early days, many of the same discussions and debates continue as to its substance and content. Concerns about teaching and teachers still reflected much of the rhetoric of the early common-school days in Cleveland, focusing on the importance of qualitative aspects and the need for well-educated teachers. The State Department of Education, through its new standards initiatives, assessment requirements, and teacher-
education institutions, and through curriculum revision and the rigor of entry and exit criteria, continues trying to alleviate these concerns, while engaging in the philosophical discourse of what is good teaching and its requisite preparation.

Sally H. Wertheim

John Carroll Univ.

Last Modified: 16 Nov 1998 11:46:27 AM

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