A Conceptual Framework for Examining Teachers' Views of Teaching and Educational Policies

by Linda Darling-Hammond, Arthur E. Wise

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Legislative and judicial policies that are intended to improve school effectiveness reinforce a legalistic conception of schooling, since they must be general, uniform, and enforceable. These policies seek to rationalize the actions of teachers by specifying curricular objectives and instructional methods for attaining them, and by measuring attainment. The theory is that if teachers conform their behavior to this model, more or better student learning will occur. Yet other theories of education are possible. In the "spontaneous" theory, the teacher is the central figure, directing the student's intellectual growth. In the "humanistic" theory, the student is the focus, with the teacher creating an environment to facilitate the student's development. If policymakers and teachers adhere to different views of education, educational policies may not have their intended effects while creating dysfunctional consequences. This Note explores teachers' choices of educational theory and how they cope with the dissonance if their theory differs from their school system's. The Note also proposes hypotheses to be tested.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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