When I do not know myself, I cannot know who my students are. I will see them through a glass darkly, in the shadows of my unexamined life — and when I cannot see them clearly, I cannot teach them well.  — Parker J. Palmer (1998)

Welcome to ED500 | Foundations of


Personal and professional development of educational practitioners through critical, reflective inquiry into philosophical, historical and sociological scholarship that focuses on educational institutions in their socio-cultural settings.

May 30, 2018 – June 28, 2018

Monday | Wednesday | Thursday 6:00-8:50 pm

O’Malley Center 211

Course Online Syllabus |


Required Reading

Spring, Joel H. (2018) The American School : a global context from the puritans to the Trump era. 10th ed. New York: Routledge.

Selected articles and chapters available online: eReadings

Digital Technology & the Crisis of Presence

We are not on digital gadgets unless they are for the purpose of this class, and if we are on gadgets we are using them for class.

Course Rationale

What is the place of educational foundations in teacher education?  While study and practice of teaching methods and the design of learning environments are central to the teaching profession, methods and design make sense only in historically specific contexts with specific goals.

In the wider society, these goals are frequently contested and made the objects of partisan debates. Yet education is perhaps the least understood institution in the United States; while most Americans spend 12 or more years attending school, the issues that define “effective” schools shift and change through time. From democracy and citizenship to equity and accountability, what are the issues and goals determining “effective” schools today?

As citizens of this great democracy, as agents of the institution of education, and as members of local school communities, teachers must make informed decisions about teaching methods and learning environments that affect the lives and futures of school children in the United States.

Goals of Educational Foundations

The interpretive perspective

  • Use historical, philosophical, and cultural concepts and theories developed within the humanities and the social sciences to:
    • Examine, understand, and explain education within different contexts; and
    • Analyze the intent, meaning, and effects of educational institutions, including schools.

 The normative perspective

  • Examine and explain education in light of value orientations;
  • Understand normative and ethical behavior in educational development;
  • Recognize the presence of normative influences in educational thought and practice;
  • Probe the nature of assumptions about education and schooling;
  • Examine the relation of policy analysis to values and the extent to which educational policymaking reflects values; and
  • Develop value positions regarding education on the basis of critical study and reflection.

The critical perspective

  • Employ normative interpretations to develop inquiry skills;
  • Question educational assumptions and arrangements;
  • Identify contradictions and inconsistencies among social and educational values, policies, and practices;
  • Employ democratic values to assess educational beliefs, policies, and practices in light of their origins, influences, and consequences;
  • Examine, understand, and explain educational proposals, arrangements, and practices;
  • Develop a disciplined sense of policy-oriented educational responsibility; and
  • Develop an awareness of education and schooling in light of their complex relations to culture.