Book by Linda Darling-Hammond & John Bransford
Review by Terri J. Tharp
Instructor, Elementary & Special Education
Middle Tennessee State University
Even today, perhaps Bob Dylan sums it up best when he sings, “For the times they are a-changin’.” Our children’s world is not the world of their grandparents or the world of our childhood. The 21st century has brought, and continues to bring, many major changes to our world. These changes are a result of a global economy, the rapid and often overwhelming advances in communications and technology, and a much, much smaller world with very diverse populations who often hold differing outlooks on life and sometimes opposing world views (Friedman, 2006).
Today’s learners are much more diverse than ever before; they bring many challenges to the American public education system whose primary purpose is to prepare students to participate in our democracy. Diverse learners include English language learners, student with exceptional needs, students of color, students from very different social and cultural backgrounds, etc. “Whereas in previous decades teachers were expected to prepare only a small minority for the most ambitious intellectual work, they are now expected to prepare virtually all students for higher-order thinking and performance skills once reserved for only a few” (p. 2). Professional teachers are committed to helping all of their students learn and succeed; in our ever changing world, this is not always an easy task. How can we effectively prepare and retain excellent teachers?
Sponsored by the National Academy of Education through its Committee on Teacher Education, Preparing Teachers for a Changing World closely examines what the education profession has learned about effective learning and teaching in relation to the many challenges presented in the 21st century and the implications these challenges have for teacher education programs. Authors outline core concepts and strategies that teacher educators need to know and consider as they prepare and educate future teachers.
The authors believe that, although there are many quality teacher preparation programs across the country, there is definitely room for improvement across the board. They assert that, without the preparation of good teachers, other education reforms are unlikely to succeed. The authors thoroughly examine and present three areas of knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are critical for productive teaching. These include: 1) knowledge of learners and how they learn and develop within social contexts, (2) an understanding of the subject matter and skills to be taught in light of the social purposes of education (curriculum), and 3) an understanding of teaching in light of the content and learners to be taught, as informed by assessment and supported by classroom environments. The authors also outline and emphasize several effective teacher education approaches such as action research, portfolio development, participation in professional learning communities, case methods, and analysis of teaching and student learning.
Although very detailed and often complex, this book provides a wealth of needed information for anyone involved in teacher preparation programs. This would certainly include faculty and professional advisors in colleges of education as they assist and advise pre-service teachers.
Friedman, T.L. (2006). The world is flat. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
Preparing Teachers for a Changing World (2005). Book by Linda Darling-Hammond & John Bransford (Eds.). Review by Terri J. Tharp. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 628 pp., $28.00 (paperback). ISBN 978-0-7879-9634-5