I always wondered why teacher training seem, for the most part,  specifically design to avoid the teaching of controversial issues in the curriculum or to provide critical outlooks of the realities of society in US. It is not difficult to answer that question when one reads on reactions such as the current attacks against proposals of change. For instances, the current debates against proposals at the University of Minnesota school of education to  broaden future teachers perspectives, by including  issues such as understanding the importance of “cultural identity”.

The chronicle of higher education reported last week on the debate taking place over the  the Teacher Education Redesign Initiative at the University of Minnesota and the attacks on their proposal of cultivating professional dispositions of teachers . Apparently the training of teachers to cultivate dispositions to interact in a diverse, multicultural society, requiring the critical dealing of controversial issues is under attack because it  may curtail “student’s academic freedom”.  The ACTA blog provide some useful comments on the critics by observers that deem the proposal as a heavy handed ideological approach. On the other hand, I should point out that students are increasingly require  to cultivate dispositions to deal with  globalize, multicultural settings in order to be economically competitive. This type of schooling requires of teacher prepare to deal with those issues.

The critics on the proposal are divided in two categories. First, those criticizing the heavy handed approach suggested, an not necessarily  the content of the proposal . Second, those criticizing the content of the proposal. The later are for the most part easy to identify. They   tend to launch diatribes such as “the University of Minnesota Adolf Hitler School of Education”,  etc.

Finally, I should indicate that  teacher training, and traditional schooling  in  general,  is usually ideologically charge though it is an ideology cultivating dispositions  towards conformity  rather than critical thinking.

From Chronicle of Higher education:

The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has come under pressure to reject a faculty panel’s proposal to require students in its education school to doubt the United States is a meritocracy and to demonstrate an understanding of concepts such as “white privilege.”(…)

The controversy over the Minnesota proposal echoes a recent debate over whether it is appropriate for colleges of education to require prospective teachers to display certain professional “dispositions” showing an ability to work with diverse students — a requirement that schools view as ensuring teachers are effective, and critics regard as thinly disguised ideological litmus tests. In response to such criticisms, the governing board of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education voted in 2007 to stop suggesting that teacher-preparation programs take their students’ views on “social justice” into account. (full article here)