Rosebrough and Leverett Publish Book on Transformational Teaching
January 23, 2011 - Throughout history America has been reminded that her greatness is rooted in the quality and character of her citizenry. The nature of her democratic form of government holds such concern for this foundation that a free and appropriate public education is extended to all who possess her name. Now is no exception to this provision, as education continues to be recognized as a foundational characteristic to be held by ballot-wielding citizens. The ever more pressing issue, however, becomes one of concern for the quality of education itself.
To this end, two Union University educators believe a quality education can be found by transforming lives. Dr. Thomas R. Rosebrough, executive dean of the College of Education and Human Studies, and Dr. Ralph G. Leverett, university professor of special education and director of the Master of Education program in Jackson, believe education from preschool through graduate school is about much more than filling minds with information. Rather, they view education as transformative and holistic. Based on research and experience, their theoretical model describes teaching as academic, social, and spiritual, which is unique from traditional teaching approaches that tend to embrace only one of these aspects. Rosebrough and Leverett view learning as a complex, social act that must embrace emotional as well as cognitive aspects to be truly effective.
ASCD, formerly known as the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, has recently published Rosebrough and Leverett’s ideas for educational practice in a new book, Transformational Teaching in the Information Age: Making How and Why We Teach Relevant to Students. In addition to the idea that education is meant not just to inform but to transform, Rosebrough and Leverett also wrote the book for another purpose. They believe our country needs citizens not just with deep knowledge but also social and spiritual qualities like persistence, openness, civility, skepticism, imagination and curiosity. Termed “strategic learning qualities” by the authors, the concept is that if teachers focus on the quality of process of inquiry such as teaching students how to learn, then the product of achievement and higher test scores will take care of itself.
Based on these foundational purposes, their text helps educators at all levels understand and implement a teaching approach that focuses on holism in goals and roles, while helping them see value in teaching with inspiration and meaningful processes. Holism in goals refers to academic as well as social and spiritual goals for learners. Holism in roles means that “whole teachers,” i.e., transformational teachers, combine the roles of scholar, practitioner, and relater. A teacher-relater, according to the authors, is a sensitive educator who teaches to social and spiritual goals like hope, empathy, and self-sacrifice.
“In the book Ralph and I wanted to explore ways to re-connect classroom practice with the motivations that got teachers into the profession in the first place,” stated Dr. Rosebrough. “We also wanted to use the latest theory and research to write a book that combines educational psychology and philosophy with sound pedagogy.” Drawing from the giants in the field—Jerome Bruner, Jean Piaget, Deborah Meier, and Jacqueline Brooks—this book is meant to equip teachers to rethink pedagogy to compete with the challenges of the information age. Thus, the new text is meant to broadly appeal to teachers of preschool students through graduate students in education. Accordingly, Dr. Leverett relates, “We think that teachers often prioritize teaching ahead of learning. We think that teaching begins with knowledge of how students learn; thus, we place learners in the center of our pedagogy model.”
Given recent trends in education, the book offers a refreshing perspective to current data-driven approaches that often encourage students to focus on attaining a high score, even in opposition to learning. Although Rosebrough and Leverett see the obvious value in evaluating what can be measured, they also know learning includes elements that cannot be easily assessed with traditional means. As such, they do not want to see our nation’s youngest citizens miss out on vital educational elements, merely because they are not captured with traditional methods of testing and assessment.
Transformational Teaching in the Information Age is divided into two sections. The first addresses relevant concepts for why teaching is done, while the second presents relevant strategies for how teaching should be done, particularly in relation to our twenty-first century, technological age. Rosebrough and Leverett’s book can be purchased at the ASCD website or at online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble .