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Department's History

Missy Pieters (07) designed the history website as a special project to pull together what is in the College archives, registrar's office, and department records. At this site, you can find important department milestones, a conceptual history, a history of courses taught, former education faculty and presidents of the college.

Special thanks goes to the individuals who made this site possible. Archivist Fred Burwell knew where to find old education documents and also checked our facts. Marley Nelson (05) read oodles of College catalogues and provided the background for the important department milestones. Professor Sonja Darlington wrote up the conceptual history and helped locate the department developments in the context of US teacher education.

The Broader context
While the College has maintained a tradition of learning that grows out of the academic disciplines, it has also found new and different ways to provide communities of scholars.  Such communities and programs encompass a world outlook approach, urban education, a focus on education in rural and small-town America, and a chance for intensive and extensive experience in preparing to become a teacher.   Beloit College has stressed service to those communities, which are both within and outside academic walls.  The certification programs are approved by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and they meet most requirements for certification in other states. 

Our students can do their practice teaching in a variety of schools that provide a wide range of ethnic groups as well as rural, urban, and suburban life styles.  Beloit-area school pupils represent the wide range of socio-economic levels found throughout the United States. We have access to both traditional and innovative schools in which our students can work.  Student teachers have considerable choice in the schools and the levels at which they do their practice teaching.  More recently, a continuing number of students choose to complete their student teaching overseas.  All of these settings help to produce teachers who are aware of the world around them, who are especially competent in at least one academic discipline and who are able to evaluate and improve their own teaching.

Official stationery once carried a slogan that read “Private endowment for public enrichment.”  A service dimension has been part of the overall mission of the institution since the beginning.  From the sectarian early times to the secular, pluralistic campus of today, the Department of Education, now called the Department of Education and Youth Studies, has been a part of the college that consciously sets out to serve as well as to teach the community in which it resides.  Students have done this through their countless hours of field experience, student teaching, and other volunteering. Faculty have participated in and promoted this.

The Historical context
As the Department of Education and Youth Studies celebrates the new major, which includes three tracks of education-related coursework, it is worthwhile to make historical reference to the fact that Education was a major as early as 1918.  The major consisted of “18 hours in the department, a correlated course of 18 hours in one or in two related departments . . . and an additional 18 hours to be arranged in consultation with the head of the department of Education” (Catalogue of Beloit College 1918-20, pg. 100).   At that time, the department also facilitated a teaching license in Wisconsin and Illinois.   Name changes for the department, which served to educate teachers, fluctuated frequently from the earliest college days back in 1849-50.  The department name changed from the Normal and English Department, to the Normal Department, to the Pedagogics Department, to the Pedagogy Department; and, finally, in 1917-18 to the Department of Education, when the major was first offered.  The number of courses in the education major also changed.  For example, after 1917-18 the required hours increased from 18 to 28, dropped back to 18 in 1924-25, and then moved to 21 in 1926, and 32 in 1935.  As the department’s history demonstrates, it took a long time to finally begin to stabilize the conceptualization of how to prepare teacher educators at Beloit College.   This is not to say that the conceptualization of the department and its major since then have remained fixed.  On the contrary, the department has continued to grow in meaningful ways that have kept pace with the changing times.  

In 1944-45, the aims of the department of education were first noted in the Catalogue of Beloit College. 

They included the following ideas:

•  giving students an appreciation and understanding of the functions of the school as a social institution

•  making students aware and critical of current educational trends and issues

•  training students to think critically with respect to educational problems and providing them with techniques for the scientific study of educational problems

•  assisting students in understanding those aspects of the physical, motor, social, emotional, and intellectual growth of the individual which are most closely related to the educational process

•  assisting students in learning to function as directors of learning so that maximum realization of educational goals can be attained

•  enabling students who so desire, to fulfill the legal requirements for a teaching certificate

•  assisting qualified students in securing teaching positions (Catalogue of Beloit College, 1944-45 pg. 68).

Significantly, even in the 40s, although Beloit College had “a teacher-training program that fully qualified students for teaching certificates,” the Department vigorously maintained that ”most of the courses” were designed  “as liberal cultural courses” and were “open to all students whether or not they intend[ed] to qualify for teaching certificates” (Beloit College Catalogues 1942-43 thru 1948-49).   In 1963-64, the Department of Education began offering a Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and thus added an Internship and Seminar, which included four full courses.  In 1970-71 a Teacher Placement Bureau “under the Department of Education” assisted “certified students to obtain positions, and also to aid in the advancement of alumni in the teaching profession (Beloit College Catalogue 1970-71, pg. 28).   In 1974-75 an international component in the education department was called Student Teaching in Britain or Australia (Elementary or Secondary).

Prior to 1996, the department had been offering teaching certificates in elementary and secondary education in conjunction with a Beloit College liberal arts major.   Education as a major had not existed for some time; rather, education coursework was labeled as a field of concentration or referred to as pre-professional studies.  When the NCA review of 1996 came due, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) allowed for new flexibility with the advent of state teacher performance standards.  For this curriculum revision, an Education Studies major was added at the same time that the MAT program was discontinued. Philosophically, the department articulated its position of offering courses that would “more clearly serve a broader group of students rather than only those who wish to teach in K-12 schools”  (Report to APC, Curricular Revisions, 1996).   As the report stated, “a rigorous curriculum [was] designed to attract students with a commitment to education in its broadest interpretation.” The curriculum revision included as an integral component ten principles that guided the curriculum changes.  One principle was the goal of a ten-course program for both Education Studies and elementary and secondary certification.  They were based on the following ideas: core courses taught by permanent faculty with a minimal dependence on adjunct faculty, minimal faculty course “marriages,” an open course per semester (selected topics, FYI or IDST), maximal integration between elementary and secondary programs, and contact with all full-time faculty members both early and late in the students’ programs of study.  Significantly, new courses in the department included Education Policy, Comparative Education, Selected Topics in Education, Curriculum Theory, and Research.  Every student in the department, both certifiers and new Education Studies majors enrolled in four common core courses, methods courses, and field experiences.

The year 2004-5 brings the history of the department up-to-date with the current revision of the curriculum, which was approved by the Faculty Senate on March 15, 2005.  For a more in-depth conceptual history of the department, which was developed specifically in preparation for the 2004-05 self-study, see A Conceptual History of Teacher Education at Beloit College (PDF), and Important Milestones (PDF) for the Beloit College Education Department.