Twentieth Century's Leading Educator
|Dr. Lindley J. Stiles, now of Boulder, Colorado, has been called the Twentieth Century's Leader in Teacher Education. As such, he has been a noted advocate of Excellence in Teaching, promoter of democratic values and procedures in educational institutions, and creator of a on-going dialogue between the nation's schools and its citizens. He was called "Dean of the Education Profession" in the citation for an Honorary Doctor's Degree awarded by The College of William and Mary, in 1978, "a visionary who was honored in his own time." Father of Funded Education Research, Father of the Education Public Information Movement, Initiator of efforts to Advance Women in Higher Education, Champion of the professionalization of teacher education, and Conceptualizer and Advocate of the social wisdom, "The Best Should Teach"--all are discriptive of the varied impact he has had on the educational scene during the past century.
Throughout his career, in his many publications and speeches, Dr. Stiles challenged head-on negative perceptions of teaching, such as Benjamin Franklin's "some of the lessor sort can teach", and Bernard Shaw's "Those who can do, and those who can't teach", which, he feels, American Society has embraced too much, thereby weakening public education. He was the first to proclaim as an irrefutable fact--and prove by his definition, itself--that "Teaching is the preeminent profession because it nourshes all others and the total of human endeavors; therefore the best in all types of work should be the teachers. Former Harvard President James Conant called his slogan, "THE BEST SHOULD TEACH" the greatest idea to be advanced since democracy was proposed by the Greeks 4,000 years before Christ. CU and Fort Lewis College, his Alma Maters, have agreed to perpetuate this vital message to all future generations throughout the world. Both institutions have installed sculptures on their campuses to make his words live forever:
To those to come, I leave the flame! Hold it as high as you can reach; If a better world is your aim, All must agree: THE BEST SHOULD TEACH.
Both institutions are promoting a variety of activities, including the awarding of "Excellent Teacher Flame Pins" to outstanding prospective and practicing teachers, an annual endowed "Best Should Teach Lecture" on the CU-Boulder campus, and a "Best Should Teach" page on the internet, to impress upon the larger society, as well as young people choosing careers, the equation: "The Best Schools, Require the Best Teachers; Therefore, the Best Should Teach." Dr. Stiles says he feels this will be his greatest and lasting contribution to making a better world for those to come.
At The University of Virginia and The University of Wisconsin, where he served as Dean of Education at mid-century, Dr. Stiles pioneered the "All-University Approach to Teacher Education", involving academic as well as education professors in policy making and standards setting for the preparation of teachers for elementary and secondary schools. At Northwestern University, as the first Interdisciplinary Professor of Education in the world, he created the Center for the Teaching Profession which challenged college and university professors to focus on the quality of their teaching as well as research.
At Wisconsin, he created the first Research School of Education in the world, as well as the first Departmentalized School of Education. He urged professors of education to become scholar-teachers, in their specialties who tested educational theory before marketing it to schools. Earlier, while at the University of Illinois, and later at the University of Wisconsin, he was the first to develop an internship component for teacher education. It replaced the traditional inadequate "one-hour a day for a semester" student teaching in the campus laboratory school with full-time, year-long internships for prospective teachers in the various types of schools of the state--all of which patterns now are being followed by other institutions throughout the nation. As a result, campus laboratory schools have become a relic of the past. Only two are known to still exist.
The mentored internship changed pedagogical training provided prospective teachers from a didactic lecture and bookstudy procedure to an inductive laboratory process in which the teacher-to-be learned from working with real learners in real school situations, guided by excellent mentors. Its goal is to produce effective teachers rather than scholarly students of education.
The Hawaii and Massachusetts Studies he directed established the principle that all teachers--elementary as well as secondary and collegiate--should be proficient in a subject matter field as well as in teaching skills. Qualification for teaching should be judged by both academic scholars and mentor teachers, rather than by politicians, with decisions based solely on college credits. He was among the first to advocate that teaching performance should be the criterion for selection, employment and reward of teachers, a practice gathering attention only now. Knowlege of a subject field, and ability to teach, judged by outstanding teachers in each field--rather than course credits in either education or a content field--was the recommendation for certification and licensing of teachers for elementary and secondary school.
Listed in twenty-five Who's Who type of reference books, seven of which were international, Dr. Stiles' reputation as a leader for improvement of education and teacher preparation was world wide. He initiated the first programs in education research--funded by the US Marshall Plan--in developing nations such as Egypt, India, and Israel. The massive Northern Nigeria Project to Improve Teacher Education was the first and only Foreign Aid effort to receive the joint support of the Ford Foundation, the US AID and the Peace Corps, which stands as a testament to his political as well as professional leadership skills. Whenever other nations asked the United States to send them a person to help them resolve very difficult conflicts about education, the US State Department sent Dr. Stiles--to India, Columbis SA, Costa Rica, for example. Dr. Stiles was credited by the US Amassador to India with persuading that nation to retain the study of the English Language in its schools. His book "Democratic Teaching", translated into Spanish and used all over Central and South America, as well as in Spain, planted the seeds for democratic shared power and mutual respect, based on enlightenment, throughout the Spanish speaking world.
Called by the US Deputy Secretary of Education, "Education's most effective politician," Dr. Stiles helped to generate public support for the National Science Act, of 1958, the Teacher Corps- which he helped to design-- the Master of Arts in Teaching initiative, and The Elementary and Secondary School Act, of 1965. He helped to conceive and write the latter, then organized citizen and professional support for its passage. At its signing, President Lyndon Johnson awarded Dr. Stiles the first pen for his efforts.
Along with his impact as the Century's Leading Teacher Educator , Dr. Stiles authored and edited many books on such varied subjects such as: "The Scholar Teacher". "Theories of Teaching", "Multiculturalism in Educatin", "Morality Examined", "Today's World in Focus", and "Reflective Thinking: The Method of Education". His four hundred articles dealt with almost every aspect of learning, teaching and educational policy. He wrote books of Poetry, too, for children and young people--which compared with the best of A.A. Milne, one reviewer judged. In his later years, he wrote popular books about his early life on a New Mexico (his home state) cattle ranch.
Dr. Stiles wrote the first postable Statement of Ethics and Traditions of Academia, spoke with elequance about the purpose of tenure, academic freedom, and faculty governance. His statement of the function of a Board of Regents, or Trustees, of a college or university made judging faculty proposals, rather than topdown administration the proper role of such bodies. It echoed his commitment to democratic procedures in educational institutions. His advice still is often sought by officials and regent members of the University of Colorado.
A signal societal contribution was his testimony in the Virginia Prince Edward Segregation Case, one of three which went to the US Supreme Court and that led to the abolition of segregation, in 1954. He argued that segregation was a social cancer that had to be cut out and cured before the nation could be well and whole, true to its democratic ideals of shared power, mutual respect, based on enlightenment with equality for all. A member of the Supreme Court sent Dr. Stiles the message that his testimony was the key to the Courts decision to reverse its early "separate but equal" decision and outlaw segregation. Even before this court action, the School of Education of the University of Virginia, under Dean Stiles' leadership, had been the first Southern University to graduated black students with Ph. D. degrees.
The University of Wisconsin created "The Stiles Shelf" in the Archives of its Library which included a history of his leadership for change in teacher education while at that institution. Northwestern University, from which he retired as Professor Emeritus, created a total "Career Stiles Shelf" In the archives of Deering Library. "Cowboy in the Classroom". his unique, and very readable, professional autobiography was written to accompany the Northwestern Library collection of his work and records. Both the University of Colorado and Fort Lewis College have preserved in their libraries selected records of Dr. Stiles volunteer efforts to help those institutions during his retirement years. The Chair of CU's Board of Regents credited Dr. Stiles' letters regarding a tumultous situation they faced with changing the course of the institution--verifying his belief that one person can make a difference. "Classroom Cowboy: Out to pasture", an addemum to "Cowboy in the Classroom", recounts his activities during these post-employment years. Few scholars and professionals, at age 86, have been more active trying to improve their professions and the society as a whole than Dr. Stiles, it has been observed.
A heretic in the halls of the pedagogical establishment, a disrespecter of accepted ignorance and "the way it has always been done", was the way one observer characterized Dr. Stiles' influence. To bring about change, he challenged the long endorsed dogma of Schools of Education, fought and won the Wisconsin battle with the National Council on Accreditation for Teacher Education, and the whole National Education Association Establishment, which sought to impose antiquated teachers College patterns on universities. He challenged the nation to correct the mistake it made in placing teacher education in separate teachers colleges, apart from the best professors and live research in universities. Some say he killed the campus laboratory schools and the teachers colleges with his common sense reasoning about how teachers should be prepared and his courage to speak out, to lead for change.
The claim that Dr. Stiles is the twentieth Century's leader in teacher education is based on the actual improvements his leadership brought about in the perceptions of who should teach, how they should be prepared, who should make policy for their preparation, and who should judge their qualification for certification, as well as, how teaching performance in schools should be rewarded. His influence was to replace dogma, untested theory, and generally accepted ignorance about teaching and school operations with research tested procedures. Others wrote books about teacher education; Dr. Stiles wrote too, but he did more--he affected changes. Most importantly, he initiated a crusade, yet to be completed, to make teaching seen as the preeminent profession which deserves the full respect and support of the total society. His slogan, "The Best Should Teach", is the rallying call to further the effort. No other Twentieth Century teacher educator matched his impact, his vision that excellence in teaching can make a better world, or his energy for translating the dream of a fully enlightened democratic society into a reality.