Preparing Teachers as Agents of Change
The Wheaton College Teacher Education Program Conceptual Framework The Department of Education (the unit charged with teacher preparation) at Wheaton College envisions the teacher as an agent of change. This conceptualization of teaching has a spiritual and historical foundation as well as a theoretical framework. The role of teacher as an agent of change is tied closely to the college’s mission, “to produce whole and effective Christians to serve Christ and His Kingdom” (Wheaton College Catalog, 2002, p. 4). This mission, which calls Wheaton students to integrate their faith with learning and living, reflects the view that all are to be faithful servants of Christ in whatever form of service their vocations lead them. For those who are called to service in our state’s, nation’s, and world’s public and private schools, this mission charges the candidates to devote their lives wholly to Christ by faithfully teaching all of His children to the best of their abilities while continually working to improve conditions in the schools.
Jonathan Blanchard, Wheaton College’s first president and a strident abolitionist, believed strongly in preparing Christian young men and women to fight injustice and improve life for those in need. Under Blanchard’s leadership, Wheaton College was the first four-year college in Illinois to graduate an African American and to enroll women on an equal basis with men (Maas, 1996). As an advocate for social reform, Blanchard’s activist role and nineteenth century ideals still guide the Wheaton teacher education program as it develops educators for an increasingly diverse nation. The unit’s current conceptual framework was originally developed in 1993. The first effort involved the collective efforts of the faculty members in the Education Department and several teachers and principals in the local public and private schools. These initial consultative efforts evolved into a regular advisory group which is now known as the Teacher Education Advisory Committee (TEAC). Membership in this group includes all of the faculty members in the Department of Education, faculty members from all of the content area departments that offer certification, four teachers from the local public schools, four principals from local public and private schools, two teacher education candidates, and a representative from the Regional Office of Education. The Conceptual Framework is brought to this group on at least an annual basis, discussion is held, and revisions are incorporated as necessary. Vision and Mission of the Unit
As the framework was developed, the unit and its partners were influenced by the work of Arthur Holmes (1987) and his vision of how one’s Christian faith and learning can be integrated. Holmes (1987) maintains that the integration of one’s Christian faith and learning can be approached in four overlapping ways: (1) attitudinally, (2) ethically, (3) foundationally, and (4) as a worldview. All of these concepts play important roles in classroom discussions about the centrality of the Christian faith in forming the basis of2 the unit’s conceptual framework and its translation to practice. This vision of integrating faith, learning and life service is consistent with the charge Paul gave to the church at Corinth, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31). As such, the mission of the unit is to prepare candidates through all of its approved programs who are agents of change, are able to ensure the learning of all of their students and, concurrently, to work effectively for positive change in their schools and communities. What does it mean to be an agent of change in schools today? In order for educators to create a significant difference in the lives of their students, their schools, and their communities, the unit believes that these educators must be able to make responsible decisions that are based on a substantial liberal arts...