Kevin G. Welner, JD, Ph.D
Students in my courses should come away with an appreciation for complexity and a respect for opposing viewpoints. In all classes, but particularly in teacher education classes, I use readings and class exercises to further the School of EducationĚs emphasis on issues of democracy and diversity. This focus includes controversial issues such as race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and political power. In order to successfully explore these ideas, I try to create a safe and supportive learning environment, but also one in which all ideas are open to challenge. I consider it important to create a classroom culture that places greatest value on views that are supported by reason and evidence. Students in my courses are asked to defend and expound upon their ideas. Education policy issues tend to be controversial. As a rule, therefore, they should be taught for understanding, rather than for learning of facts or for reaching a "correct" answer. My class readings, particularly in the teacher education classes, typically present two or three perspectives on an issue. Class discussions and assignments then build on this diversity, asking students to reflect upon the various approaches, and then to develop and defend their own positions.
Courses Frequently Taught
School and Society (EDUC3013)
This course introduces students -- future teachers as well as those simply interested in educational issues -- to many of the most salient issues surrounding education within the United States. More specifically, the course reveals the complex relationship between schools and the larger society in which they exist. Because schools are themselves a microcosm of the larger society, we explore many important contemporary and historical societal issues, examining the ways in which they affect education. These include diversity issues (race, social class, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation) as well as issues of power and privilege and issues of democracy. While all these issues affect pedagogy (the way we teach) and curriculum (what we teach), EDUC 3013 is not a methods course. That is, we do not focus on how to teach or teaching strategies; rather, we center our attention on the larger issues that influence oneĚs perceptions of areas such as teaching, pedagogy, curriculum, and school administration.
Social Foundations of Education (EDUC5005)
The course is designed to acquaint students with the broad moral-political dimensions of public education that frame competing positions on issues such as tracking, multiculturalism, gender, and school choice, to name a few. Two major threads are woven through the more specific issues examined: (1) the traditionalism versus progressivism divide, and (2) the drive for educational equality, spurred in recent history by the landmark Brown versus the Board of Education decision in 1954. The course is open only to members of the MA+ Secondary cohort.
Education Policy and the Law (EDUC6210)
Approaching education policy issues through the rich history of litigation and current legal challenges facing American k-12 schooling, this course is designed to build an understanding of the legal and policy development of the American schooling system, particularly in the 20th century. Laws and legal cases are used as jumping-off points for broader discussions.
Educational Evaluation (EDUC7386)
This course is designed to build an understanding of the range of approaches taken by educational evaluators in their efforts to meet client demands, particularly as regards programs and projects. In addition, the course considers other types of evaluative projects, such as evaluations designed to improve, rather than judge, a program. We will explore the nature of different evaluation perspectives and learn how these disparate views translate into methodological and conceptual models.
Seminar on Policy Issues in Education (EDUC7446)
This course is designed to familiarize advanced graduate students with educational policy and policy analysis. Students learn to approach policy issues from a contextual perspective that highlights larger, systemic forces. Throughout the course, we return to a set of broad themes and enduring questions concerning the formation and content of policy, and we also explore specific, key educational policy issues.