Debating teacher education in the United States Universities and their critics

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INTRODUCTION: Teacher education in the United States has experienced several transitions: Before the 1830s, people who were considered smart were able to teach. After the 1830s until the late 1950s a wide range of approaches to teaching were developed. From the 1960s until 1990, the way to become a teacher became clear through a state approved university program. Since 1990, teacher education in the United States has experienced a major transition, which brings into question the future of teacher education within universities, considering the amount of alternative providers that train teachers. METHOD: An overview of teacher education in the United States will be presented through a historical review, focusing on the North American context, the schools of education and the impact of the alternative providers within the education system. RESULTS: Several agendas have been competing, but none of them are dominant and they are often seen as conflicting and contradictory. At the same time, national government does not have a strong role in education policy and private organizations set a lot of policy. The alternative providers prepare teachers in many ways, but they also face some difficulties. The result is that teacher education programs and education schools keep being marginalized. DISCUSSION: Twenty five years ago, the vast majority of aspiring teachers attended a university-based school of education. Today perhaps one-third of new teachers are products of programs that offer alternatives to university preparation and alternative routes are growing. University-based teacher preparation programs are suffering a period of crisis and it is time to find new ways to face this challenge in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-49
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Alternative routes
  • American teacher education
  • Critics
  • University programs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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