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A New Vision of Teacher Education: Learning to Live and Thrive With Ambiguity and Uncertainty
Unformatted Document Text:  The analysis of this model of teacher education is meant as a cautionary counterpoint to our pursuit of new visions that will be explored in the conference theme. For the thinking of teachers is not merely instrumental in educating our students, but rather the teacher’s own ways of thinking become the exemplars for their students’ developing ability to think. Thus, the way we are trying to educate our youth to deal with life’s uncertainties and ambiguities has to be exemplified in the teacher’s own thinking. I will present an example of a tension in public school policies that is deeply rooted in the tensions inherent in the philosophy of a liberal democratic state. While we seek to promote values like equality and liberty, there are times when these values conflict. In a recent court decision, Saxe v. Student Doe 2, the third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a school district’s anti-harassment policy as a violation of the first amendment. The policy was intended to provide a safe, secure, and nurturing school environment for all students, including gay and lesbian students, to achieve equal educational opportunities. The plaintiffs in the case argued that their religion compelled them to speak out against what they considered the harmful and sinful nature of homosexuality, and argued that the school policy was a constitutional violation of their free speech and free exercise of their religion. In this example, the school is struggling with two values that it claims to promote. Is there a principled way to think about the tensions inherent in these conflicts? How do we promote both the values of individual liberty and equal educational opportunity – liberty and equality? How would we construct a school policy that would stand up to constitutional muster? How would we phrase it? What would we include? What are the social, educational and practical ramifications? The conflicting assumptions underlying the philosophy of the liberal democratic state frame our questions, define our problems and construct the solutions that shape our practices, policies, and research 2

Authors: Kasprisin, Lorraine.
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The analysis of this model of teacher education is meant as a cautionary counterpoint to our pursuit of
new visions that will be explored in the conference theme. For the thinking of teachers is not merely
instrumental in educating our students, but rather the teacher’s own ways of thinking become the exemplars for
their students’ developing ability to think. Thus, the way we are trying to educate our youth to deal with life’s
uncertainties and ambiguities has to be exemplified in the teacher’s own thinking.
I will present an example of a tension in public school policies that is deeply rooted in the tensions
inherent in the philosophy of a liberal democratic state. While we seek to promote values like equality and
liberty, there are times when these values conflict. In a recent court decision, Saxe v. Student Doe 2, the third
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a school district’s anti-harassment policy as a violation of the first
amendment. The policy was intended to provide a safe, secure, and nurturing school environment for all
students, including gay and lesbian students, to achieve equal educational opportunities. The plaintiffs in the
case argued that their religion compelled them to speak out against what they considered the harmful and sinful
nature of homosexuality, and argued that the school policy was a constitutional violation of their free speech
and free exercise of their religion.
In this example, the school is struggling with two values that it claims to promote. Is there a principled
way to think about the tensions inherent in these conflicts? How do we promote both the values of individual
liberty and equal educational opportunity – liberty and equality? How would we construct a school policy that
would stand up to constitutional muster? How would we phrase it? What would we include? What are the
social, educational and practical ramifications?
The conflicting assumptions underlying the philosophy of the liberal democratic state frame our
questions, define our problems and construct the solutions that shape our practices, policies, and research
2


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