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In the United States and Canada, a school of education (or college of education; ed school) is a division within a university that is devoted to scholarship in the field of education, which is an interdisciplinary branch of the social sciences encompassing sociology, psychology, linguistics, economics, political science, public policy, history, and others, all applied to the topic of elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education. The U.S. has 1,206 schools, colleges and departments of education and they exist in 78% of all universities and colleges.[1] According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 176,572 individuals were conferred master's degrees in education by degree-granting institutions in the United States in 2006–2007. The number of master's degrees conferred has grown immensely since the 1990s and accounts for one of the discipline areas that awards the highest number of master's degrees in the United States.[2]


History and areas of interestEdit

Schools of education are historically rooted in the 19th century normal schools. After the Civil War, universities began to include instruction in pedagogy, competing with normal schools in the preparation of teachers. Pedagogy and psychology, which previously were considered to be subsets of philosophy, gained status of legitimate collegiate academic disciplines thanks to William James and John Dewey. By 1900, most universities had some formal instruction in pedagogy.[3] For a long time teacher education, curriculum, and instruction remained the core offering of schools of education.

By the 1930s, schools of education started training educational administrators such as principals and superintendents, and specialists such as guidance counselors for elementary and secondary schools.

Many graduates of schools of education become involved in education policy. As such, issues such as equity, teacher quality, and education assessment have become focuses of many schools of education. The issue of equitable access to education particularly is common, specifically focusing on low-income, minority, and immigrant communities, is central to many areas of research within the education field.[4][5]

Types of programsEdit

Typically, a school of education offers research-based programs leading to Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Education (M.Ed.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) or Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) degrees, as well as professional teacher-education programs leading to Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Education (M.Ed.), or Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) degrees. Schools of education also offer teacher certification or licensure programs to undergraduate students. Generally schools of education have graduate programs related to teacher preparation, curriculum and instruction (or curriculum and teaching), public policy and education, and educational administration. In addition, some schools of education offer programs in school counseling and counseling psychology.


Low academic standardsEdit

Schools of education have been blamed for low academic standards and "Mickey Mouse" courses,[6] suggesting that earning an advanced degree in education, specifically a master level degree, doesn't seem to actually make someone a better teacher.[7] George Pólya quoted a typical pre-service secondary school mathematics teacher, "The mathematics department offers us tough steak which we cannot chew and the school of education [feeds us] vapid soup with no meat in it". Polya suggested that a college instructor who offered a methods course to mathematics teachers knew mathematics at least on the level of a Master’s degree and had some experience of mathematical research.[8] Katherine Merseth, director of the teacher education program at Harvard University, described graduate schools of education as the "cash cows of universities".[9][10] Former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that "by almost any standard, many if not most of the nation's 1,450 schools, colleges and departments of education are doing a mediocre job of preparing teachers for the realities of the 21st-century classroom."[11]

Prominence of ideologyEdit

Distinguished figures, including E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Diane Ravitch, Chester Finn, and Lynne Cheney[12] criticized schools of education for ostensibly Left-wing political bias, favoring socialist philosophies such as Paulo Freire's critical pedagogy[13] and the "Teaching for Social Justice" movement, creating academically, professionally, and socially inhospitable environment toward students whose political views do not conform to the Left-leaning ideology.[14][15][16][17]

Emphasis on administrationEdit

Abraham Flexner called courses like "the supervision of the teaching staff", "duties of school officers", "awareness of situations and planning of behavior", "reflective thought as a basis for teaching method" to be "absurdities and trivialities". He admonished the attention "devoted to tests, measurements, organization, administration—including administration of the teaching staff and how to organize for planning the curriculum".[18]

Lyell Asher blames the surge of residential life "curricula" on the selfish motives of the ed schools' administrators to present themselves not as resident advisers but as residence-hall "educators". He supports the argument of E. D. Hirsch that professors of education, "surrounded in the universities by prestigious colleagues whose strong suit is thought to be knowledge, have translated resentment against this elite cadre into resentment against the knowledge from which it draws its prestige".[19] Mr. Hirsch warns that it is "never a healthy circumstance when people who are held in low esteem exercise dominant influence in an important sphere. The conjunction of power with resentment is deadly".[19]

Notable schools of education in the U.S.Edit

Notable scholars within schools of educationEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Levine, A. (2007). Educating researchers. New York: Education Schools Project.
  2. ^ Digest of Education Statistics - National Center for Education Statistics Web Site. Accessed on December 4, 2009.
  3. ^ David B. Tyack, Turning points in American educational history (1967), pp. 415-416
  4. ^ Labaree, David F. (1 February 2005). "Progressivism, schools and schools of education: An American romance" (PDF). Paedagogica Historica. Routledge. 41 (1–2): 275–288. doi:10.1080/0030923042000335583. ISSN 1477-674X. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  5. ^ Deborah J. Stipek (2007). "Message from the Dean". Retrieved 2007-03-30.
  6. ^ Finn, C. E. (2001). Getting better teachers—and treating them right. In T. M. Moe (Ed.), A primer on America’s schools (pp. 127-150). Stanford, CA: Hoover Institute.
  7. ^ Luzer, Daniel (22 February 2010). "The Pedagogy Con". Washington Monthly. Retrieved 2012-03-02.
  8. ^ Pólya, George. "Mathematical Discovery".
  9. ^ Eddie Ramirez (25 March 2009). "What You Should Consider Before Education Graduate School". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 28 April 2013. We need to hold graduate schools of education more accountable." Merseth says that of the 1,300 graduate teacher training programs in the country, about 100 or so are adequately preparing teachers and "the others could be shut down tomorrow.
  10. ^ Jesse Scaccia (31 March 2009). "Graduate Schools of Education: "Cash Cows" says Harvard lecturer". Teacher, Revised. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  11. ^ Medina, Jennifer (22 October 2009). "Teacher Training Termed Mediocre". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-03-02.
  12. ^ Martin A. Kozloff (October 2002). "Ed Schools in Crisis". Watson College of Education, University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Archived from the original on 2006-12-24. Retrieved 2007-03-29. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  13. ^ Sol Stern "Pedagogy of the Oppressor" City Journal, Spring 2009
  14. ^ Heather Mac Donald (Spring 1998). "Why Johnny's Teacher Can't Teach". City Journal. Retrieved 2007-03-29.
  15. ^ Sol Stern (Summer 2006). "The Ed Schools' Latest—and Worst—Humbug". City Journal. Retrieved 2007-03-29.
  16. ^ George F. Will (2006-01-16). "Ed Schools vs. Education". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 2007-01-06. Retrieved 2007-03-29.
  17. ^ Greg Lukianoff. "Social Justice and Political Orthodoxy". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2007-03-30.
  18. ^ Flexner, Abraham (1930). Universities: American, English, German. p. 101.
  19. ^ a b Hirsch, E.D. (1996). The schools we need, and why we don't have them. p. 115-116.
  20. ^