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College of Education Conceptual Framework: Short Version

At its founding in 1945, Eleanor Roosevelt dedicated Roosevelt University to “the enlightenment of the human spirit.” From that point to this day, the College of Education has sought to achieve this goal through the cultivation of democratic learning communities.  

Democratic learning communities are social spaces in which people consciously come together to examine, re-think, and reformulate goals, understandings, dispositions, relationships, and practices. Conflict, disagreement, and struggle are inherent to processes of democratic learning; but so, too, are consensus, enjoyment, and collaboration. A commitment to individual freedom and social justice—demonstrated by exemplary educators such as John Dewey, Paulo Freire, and Lisa Delpit—underlies the efforts of democratic learning communities, as well as the products and outcomes that they yield. 

The College of Education invites prospective and practicing teachers, counselors, and school leaders to experience democratic learning communities in its courses and field experiences; correspondingly, it prepares and assists these same individuals to cultivate democratic learning communities in schools, classrooms, and other environments where diverse individuals endeavor to grow and learn. To build these communities, both faculty and candidates are committed to developing and expanding:

  • devotion to social justice and global responsibility; 
  • passion for the educator’s craft; and 
  • respect for knowledge and learning.   
Respect for knowledge and learning is a key pillar of democratic learning communities.  Learning entails dialogue, a willingness to explore new ways of thinking, and a healthy skepticism. Members of the College of Education build on diverse understandings, a broad and deep knowledge base, and multiple specializations in knowledge. All participants in the College of Education are expected to possess 

  • specialized knowledge and learning—rich understandings of content area knowledge particular to their area(s) of concentration, 
  • knowledge of educational foundations—historical and theoretical perspectives on educational practices, and 
  • adaptive decision making— the ability to interpret and adapt knowledge to educational contexts and procedures.  
Dispositions such as curiosity, creativity, confidence, flexibility, and attentiveness are considered crucial to the achievement of respect for knowledge and learning in any educational environment.   

Devotion to social justice and global responsibility is another mainstay of democratic learning communities. College of Education faculty, students, and community partners understand that the pursuit of social justice and global responsibility is a life-long, collective endeavor and requires: 

  • an ethic of care, or a positive regard for the learner and the larger web of social significance in which both learners and educators are embedded.  Educators must inculcate and model caring for individuals, for institutions, and for ideas; 
  • inviting and engaging human diversity, so that schools and classrooms build an understanding and appreciation of the different voices amongst us; 
  • advocacy for equity—especially with regard to educational resources and outcomes.  
Dispositions such as compassion, empathy, unselfishness, skepticism, and courage are considered essential to an ethic of care, as well as a devotion to social justice and global responsibility.   

Passion for the educator’s craft is a third key element of democratic learning communities.  The College of Education recognizes that the remarkable professional educator—whether counselor, school leader, or teacher—combines personal artistry with technical skills, such as expertise with technology. Artistry and technical proficiency are the hallmarks of the educator’s craft. The essential element that holds these two fundamentals together is passion, or an enthusiasm that issues from the dispositions and understandings of the educator (Fried, 1995).  All educators function in a variety of roles, including advisor/counselor, instructor/facilitator, colleague, reflective practitioner, and educational leader.  Passion displays itself in different ways, depending on the role and situation. 

Some of the dispositions associated with passion for the educator’s craft are enthusiasm, collegiality, self-reliance, professionalism, and reflexivity. 

Given that the democratic and learner-centered education that the College of Education endorses is difficult to enact, various assessment methods are used to provide accountability and inform program improvement. Portfolios and direct observations of performance provide useful information on success in meeting desired results and fulfilling the mission of the college and the larger university. Through open and honest dialogue with all who participate in its mission, the College of Education demonstrates the conceptual framework that it advocates, and obtains the insight necessary to sustain and nurture it into the future. References Click here for the full version of the Conceptual Framework

References

Full version of Conceptual Framework