Daniel Liston

Professor, Curriculum & Instruction - ROTATE and Educational Foundations, Policy & Practice
Areas of Expertise
Contemplative and Religious Education, Curriculum Development and Theory, Emotion in Teaching and Learning, Humanities and Education, Philosophy of Education, Politics of Education, Professional Development, Teacher Education, Values and Morals in Education

Biography

Daniel (Dan) Liston is professor of education in the Educational Foundations Policy and Practice (EFPP) program and the Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) program. 

Professor Liston's research interests include curriculum theory, teacher education, reflective teaching, and educational foundations. Specifically he examines justifications for distinct curricula; provides articulations for and critiques of teacher education; and explores the social and political contexts of schooling. Recently he has begun to explore the various ways reason and emotion interact to affect the practice of teaching and the education of teachers. 

Professor Liston currently co-directs (with Paul Michalec and in conjunction with Susan Kaplan and Rev. Paul Kottke) Colorado Courage and Renewal, a program of professional development and renewal for public school personnel, clergy, and others in the serving professions. 

Professor Liston’s teaching interests focus on curriculum theory, education in film, spirituality in education, and the social and political foundations of schooling.
Professor Liston has been a member of various professional organizations including the American Educational Research Association, the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE), and the American Educational Studies Association. He is a past and current member of the Editorial Review Board of Educational Theory

During his time at CU, Professor Liston has received the AACTE Outstanding Writing Award, CU’s SOAR and the “Best Should Teach” teaching awards, and the university-wide Robert L. Stearns Award for extraordinary achievement in teaching, service, research and work with students. His research has resulted in publication of six books (single and co-authored, and edited) and numerous articles.

Education:

PhD Curriculum and Instruction (Philosophy and Social Theory), University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1985
BA Elementary Education, Earlham College, 1975

Research

y research focus has varied over the last 30 years, but it is consistently concerned with recapturing broader and richer understandings of curricula and teaching while recognizing the social and political terrain of schooling. I began with an emphasis on examining the philosophical (explanatory and ethical) underpinnings of radical educational theory (see below, Capitalist Schools: Explanation and Ethics in Radical Studies of Schooling). I moved on to construct and explore a program of teacher education that recognized the importance of teacher reflection and the social and political contexts of schooling (see below, Teacher Education and the Social Conditions of Schooling). In conjunction with my focus on teacher education, I undertook with Professor Ken Zeichner the creation of a book series that explored teacher reflection on the social conditions of schooling (see Reflective Teaching and Culture and Teaching). I then examined available justifications for distinct curricular frameworks (see Curriculum in Conflict). Recently I completed an edited book and am currently working on a manuscript that explores the terrain of reason and emotion in teaching and schooling (seeTeaching, Loving, and Learning).  I also am editing (with Ian Renga) a text that explores education in film (see Teaching, Learning, and Schooling in Film: Reel Education).  In addition to these authored and edited texts I have penned a variety of articles and essays.  A selected list of the articles follows the book summaries.

Book Summaries:

Capitalist Schools: Explanation and Ethics in Radical Studies of Schooling, (New York: Routledge, 1988), 205 pp. In this work I examine the explanatory capacity of radical (neo-Marxist) explanations of public schooling and the ethical adequacy of their critiques and prescriptions. I maintain that radicals offer facile functional explanations, and I offer a way to enhance functional explanatory claims. I also argue that the radical framework relies on an ethic of virtue, rather than duty, and suggest further attention be paid to the radical ethical framework.

Teacher Education and the Social Conditions of Schooling, - with Kenneth Zeichner (New York: Routledge, 1991), 293 pp. Looking at the history of teacher education in the US we characterize four distinct reform movements: academic; social efficiency; developmentalist and social reconstructionist. We then proceed to argue for and further develop a social reconstructionist reform agenda maintaining that prospective teachers should be encouraged to articulate and justify their educational aims, and understand the power of the social and political contexts of schooling. We outline a research agenda that would be grounded in teachers' issues and concerns and we also develop the programmatic implications of our social reconstructionist reform agenda.

Reflective Teaching: An Introduction - with Ken Zeichner (New York: Routledge, First edition-1996 and Second Edition-2013). In this text we provide a critical summary of the reflective teaching literature and elaborate a conception of reflective practice that is rooted in the work of John Dewey and Donald Schon. We delineate the conceptual bases of this conception of teacher reflection and identify the various practices associated with it.  In the second edition of this text we updated relevant material, composed three new chapters, maintained our focus on the larger context of teaching, underscored the use of critical educational texts and film to encourage reflection, highlighted the emotional features of teaching and reflection, and provided new case material to explore reflection within and across the educational traditions.

Culture and Teaching - with Ken Zeichner (New York, Routledge,1996), 102 pp. When we teach our cultural assumptions interact with students' cultural backgrounds. When this occurs many intriguing and important issues arise. We provide four distinct teaching case studies that capture dilemmas of teaching students from distinct cultures and provide a range of reader responses to these issues. Once we have explored these issues, we then present three prevalent public views about the role of culture in teaching: conservative, radical-multicultural, and progressive public arguments. Finally we articulate our view of culture, teaching and schooling.

Curriculum in Conflict: Social Visions, Educational Agendas, and Progressive School Reform - with Landon Beyer (New York City: Teachers College Press, 1996), 242 pp. Past and present public school curricula are part of larger social and political visions. Distinct curricula represent various conceptions of the 'good life'. In this work we examine the varieties of curricular orientations underscoring their political, social and philosophical assumptions. We look at curricula emanating from conservative, liberal, postmodern, and radical social visions and argue for a more democratically inclined progressive approach.

Teaching, Loving, and Learning - an edited work with Jim Garrison (New York: Routledge, 2004), 213pp. In this collection of essays, ten prominent educational authors offer their understandings of the role of emotion in teaching and teacher education. Attempts are made to elaborate the various ways in which our thinking and feeling combine in teaching, and authors draw from the realms of traditional philosophy, post-modern discourse, and eastern spiritual sources to inform their discussions.

Teaching, Learning, and Schooling in Film: Reel Education – and edited work with Ian Renga (New York: Routledge, in progress - 2014).  In this work a collection of educational scholars and practitioners examine recent Hollywood and independent films as well as documentaries to explore and extend what it means to teach, learn, and school.

Selected Articles and Essays:

Liston, D. (2012). Reconsidering University-Based Teacher Education.  Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue, 14 (1&2), 15-30.

Liston, D. (2012). Reverence and Love in Teaching in Teaching with Reverence, edited by A. G. Rud and Jim Garrison (New York, Palgrave Macmillan), pp.33-48.

Liston, D. (2011). The Futility of Ideological Conflict in Teacher Education in Critical Civic Literacy, edited by Joseph Devitis (New York City, Peter Lang: 2011), pp. 446-458.

Liston, D. (2010). Contemplating Teaching’s Conflicts and Paradoxes. Educational Theory, 60(1): 29-38.

Liston, D., Whitcomb, J. and Borko, H. (2009). The End of Education in Teacher Education: Thoughts on Reclaiming the Role of Social Foundations in Teacher Education. Journal of Teacher Education 60(2).

Liston, D. (2008). Critical Pedagogy and Attentive Love. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 27(5), 387-392. 

Borko, H., Liston, D., & Whitcomb, J. (2007). Apples and fishes: The debate over dispositions in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(5), 359-364.

Borko, H., Liston, D., & Whitcomb, J. (2007). Conversations that renew. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(4), 263-268.

Whitcomb, J., Borko, H., & Liston, D. (2007). Stranger than fiction: Arthur Levine's Education school teachers-The basis for a proposal. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(3), 195-201. 

Liston, D. P., Whitcomb, J., & Borko, H. (2007). NCLB and scientifically-based research. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(2), 99-107. 

Borko, H., Liston, D., Whitcomb, J. (2007). Genres of empirical research in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(1), 3-11. 

Whitcomb, J., Borko, H., & Liston, D. (2006). Living in the tension-Living with the heat. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(5), 447-453. 

Liston, D., Whitcomb, J., & Borko, H. (2006). Too little or too much: Teacher preparation and the first years of teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(4), 351-358.

Borko, H., Liston, D., Whitcomb, J. (2006). A conversation among many voices: Critiques and visions of teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(3), 199-204. 

Liston, D. P. (2004). The Lure of Learning in Teaching. Teachers College Record, 106(3), 459-486.

Liston, D. P. (2000). Love and Despair in Teaching. Educational Theory, 50(1), 81-102.
Beyer, L. & Liston, D. P. (1992). Discourse or Moral Action?: A Critique of Postmodernism. Educational Theory, 42(4), 371-393.

Zeichner, K. M. & Liston, D. P. (1990). Traditions of Reform in U.S. Teacher Education. Journal of Teacher Education, 41(2), 3-20.

Liston, D. P. (1988). Faith and Evidence: Examining Marxist Explanations of Schools, American Journal of Education, 96(3), 323-350.

Zeichner, K.M. & Liston, D. P. (1987). Teaching Student Teachers to Reflect. Harvard Educational Review. 56(1), 23-48.

Liston, D. P. (1986). On Facts and Values: An Analysis of Radical Curriculum Studies. Educational Theory, 36(2), 137-152.

Liston, D. P. (1984). Have We Explained the Relationship between Curriculum and Capitalism? An Analysis of the Selective Tradition. Educational Theory, 34(.3), 241-253.

Teaching

I look upon teaching as profession and a vocation. At the university, in a school of education, this takes the form of engaging students in an examination of their beliefs and understandings about teaching, schooling, and the larger social and political orders. Because teaching is both personal and professional, it is helpful to have some understanding of who we are and the kind of teachers we want to be. All of the varied conceptions of teaching and the curriculum embody strengths and weaknesses. I strive to engage students in exploring these strengths and weaknesses and enlarging conceptions of self, teaching, and schooling. In exploring these issues with students, I hope they come to see teaching and schooling in renewed and enriched ways.

Courses frequently taught:

EDUC 5065: Curriculum Theories
This course is an introduction to, and general exploration of, issues in curriculum. In many ways the curriculum is the centerpiece of educational activity. It includes the formal, overt, organized bodies of knowledge as well as the more tacit impressions that students receive and create in school. The curriculum encompasses students' understandings of the social and natural worlds, the moral values taught and modeled in classrooms, and the personal dispositions encouraged by a school's structure and its teachers' instruction. In short, the curriculum includes all that students learn in schools.

Few people readily agree on what ought to be included in a school's curriculum. Some focus on "book-learning" while others emphasize experiential approaches. Some individuals believe that schools should focus on information and leave values to the family. Others insist that it is impossible to delete values from any educational setting. One way to understand the differences that exist is to look at the various stances taken. In this class we examine the ways in which distinct educational traditions (i.e. conservative, progressive, radical, and spiritual) identify what ought to be taught and, to some degree, how it ought to be taught. Hopefully, after examining the readings and engaging in discussions, each individual will come to a better understanding of the distinct conceptions of education and the curriculum, and a more articulated view of her/his own educational orientation. Much of this class is an exploration and articulation of students’ individual educational "values." This requires an understanding of the distinct viewpoints offered in the readings and a reflection on, and expression of beliefs about what ought to be taught in schools. Within each tradition I have selected readings that should provide some understanding of the basic tenets of that stance and other readings that will pursue particular issues pertinent to that tradition. We end each tradition with a reading that is less discursive and more narrative; a work of fiction or a memoir. I have found these final selections to provide rich and enjoyable bases for discussions.

EDUC 8025: Doctoral Seminar on Curriculum Theories
This course focuses on the four traditions outlined in EDUC 5065 (above) and engages students in conceptual, philosophical, and practical questions about these four distinct ways of understanding education as well as the role of the traditions in teacher preparation.

EDUC 8145: Doctoral Seminar on Research on Teaching and Teacher Education (with Associate Dean Jennie Whitcomb)
The general public and policy makers accede that good teachers are essential to improve k-12 students’ learning. However the policy and research communities do not agree about a number of teacher preparation issues, including: who should teach; where and how they should learn to teach; and what can be done to ensure the preparation of teachers capable of fostering deep learning in all youth, in particular for those students most likely to be marginalized in today’s schools. These disagreements occur in precarious times. Teacher education within schools of education has become an embattled endeavor. During the last ten years alternative teacher education pathways have multiplied, many supported outside the academy in non-profit or other entrepreneurial settings. Add to this the growing (but certainly not new) view among policy makers that schools and colleges of education contribute to the problems rather than create solutions for teacher education and K-12 school reform; the problems intensify. With increasing higher education costs, state reductions in the level of support for public universities, and a revived skepticism about schools of education as well as the teaching profession – the future prospects for university-based programs of, and research into teacher education seem murky.
Today’s controversies occur at a time when credible and substantial inquiry into teacher preparation has occurred. The field of research on teacher education has grappled with central questions, including: what knowledge is uniquely held by teachers and necessary to learn in order to be a good teacher; what theories capably explore the emotional, intellectual, and social processes people engage in to become teachers; what pedagogies foster learning to teach; and what contexts best enable learning to teach. While this body of research is substantial and growing it has not settled many critical questions. We cover this engaging intellectual terrain.

EDUC 2150: Education in Film
Sound teaching, valuable learning, and accountable schooling are central factors in creating informed, productive, and thoughtful citizens. This educational process is neither simple nor straightforward. At times US schools successfully engage students, at times not. Understanding this educational effort is an absorbing and challenging project. In this course we examine teaching, learning, and schooling through perspectives offered in film and recent documentaries, scholarly analyses, and teacher narratives. All three of these avenues illuminate and obscure; all three will be examined and interrogated further. As a result, I hope students’ understanding will be enriched and enlarged.

The central guiding questions for this exploration are:

  1. What does it mean to be educated? How do our films portray this process? Are you being (have you been) educated?
  2. What does it mean to be a teacher and to teach well? How do the films depict teaching? Who has taught you well?
  3. What does it mean to learn? How do we learn? How are these processes captured by the Hollywood films or documentaries? What have been your most powerful and significant learning experiences?
  4. Do schools as organizational structures support teaching and learning? How is this rendered in film? What are other settings for teaching and learning?

The categories of teaching, learning, and schooling will guide our efforts to understand key elements of the educational process. Teaching capably and well is a complex undertaking. In today’s films school teaching is frequently portrayed as something of a heroic process – the lone teacher against the mindless and misdirected bureaucracy. But upon further inspection teaching is not quite so simply characterized.

EDUC 5070: Spirituality and Religion in Education
In this course we examine aspects of the spiritual curriculum tradition, as well as the role of religion in our public schools. Generally in the U.S. we hold to a fairly strong demarcation between what constitutes a proper public education and what comprises a peculiarly religious education. Public schools and their teachers are constitutionally prohibited from proselytizing religious ideas and sentiments. However US public schools can teach about religion. The spiritual domain is a bit more difficult to demarcate. In short it underscores the human search for meaning – transcendent and immanent. In an effort to understand this religious and spiritual terrain we explore recent public discourse about religion, God, and spirituality as well as a range of historical, conceptual, and practical features of the public school curricula.
The religious and spiritual realms can point to intensely personal experiences, engaging community developments, and divisive public debates. Here we will approach this material in an academic and scholarly manner. That is, we will attempt to understand and analyze the ways in which religion and spirituality have (and have not), could, and should intersect with public schools’ curricula.

EDUC 8804: Radical Educational Theories
In this class I provide both a general elaboration and an in-depth exploration of radical educational theories. During the last two decades the academy has seen an explosion of radical conceptual frameworks, empirical explorations, and turf wars within the various radical educational arenas. Neo-Marxist analyses of class domination, feminist delineations of patriarchy and gender domination, culture and race-based critiques of racism and white privilege, sexual identity explications of homophobia, and postmodern/structural examinations and exhortations have flourished and, to some degree, recently waned. On the periphery of these 'traditional' radical analyses is the emancipatory spiritual critique of schooling. This critique maintains that schools ignore key features of the human experience and as a result leave us alienated and searching for meaning. Since the amount of work is vast and the territory covered expansive we will have to approach the terrain selectively, with some care and attention. Rather than touch on each and every type of analysis, I have selected readings to introduce essential features of the radical approach to schooling and education.

Service & Outreach

Selected Professional Service

  • Chair, School of Education: Education Minor Committee: 2011-present.
  • Appointed, Vice Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for Tenure and Promotion; University of Colorado-Boulder: Spring 2009-Spring 2011.
  • Appointed, Graduate School Fellowship Selection Committee: Fall 2011.
  • Associate Dean, Director of Graduate Studies, School of Education: 2007-2010.
  • Appointed, Member of Provost’s Grievance Committee: Fall 2007 and Fall 2008.
  • Appointed, Member of the University Strategic Planning Committee, Flagship 2030.  Member Graduates-subcommittee: Fall 2006 and Spring 2007.
  • Elected, School of Education Salary Review Committee: Spring 2004-Winter 2007.

School of Education

  • Chair, Faculty Workload Committee, Spring 2001
  • Search Committees: 2001- 02; 1993; 1992
  • Promotion Review Committees: 2001-02; 1999-2000; 1997-98; 1996-97
  • Search Committee, Dean, School of Education: 1997-98 and 1996-97
  • Salary Review Committee, 2004-06, 2001-03, 1997-98

State and Local Outreach

  • Advisory Board, Aspen Educational Research Foundation, Teacher Center: 1995-2000

Selected Publications

(For complete list of publications, please see the faculty member's curriculum vitae.)

Articles

Liston, D. (2008). Critical Pedagogy and Attentive Love. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 27(5), 387-392.

Borko, H., Liston, D., & Whitcomb, J. (2007). Apples and fishes: The debate over dispositions in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(5), 359-364.

Borko, H., Liston, D., & Whitcomb, J. (2007). Conversations that renew. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(4), 263-268.

Whitcomb, J., Borko, H., & Liston, D. (2007). Stranger than fiction: Arthur Levine's Education school teachers-The basis for a proposal. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(3), 195-201.

Liston, D. P., Whitcomb, J., & Borko, H. (2007). NCLB and scientifically-based research. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(2), 99-107.

Borko, H., Liston, D., Whitcomb, J. (2007). Genres of empirical research in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(1), 3-11.

Whitcomb, J., Borko, H., & Liston, D. (2006). Living in the tension-Living with the heat. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(5), 447-453.

Liston, D., Whitcomb, J., & Borko, H. (2006). Too little or too much: Teacher preparation and the first years of teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(4), 351-358.

Borko, H., Liston, D., Whitcomb, J. (2006). A conversation among many voices: Critiques and visions of teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(3), 199-204.

Liston, D. P. (2004). The Lure of Learning in Teaching. Teachers College Record, 106(3), 459-486.

Liston, D. P. (2000). Love and Despair in Teaching. Educational Theory, 50(1), 81-102.

Beyer, L. & Liston, D. P. (1992). Discourse or Moral Action?: A Critique of Postmodernism. Educational Theory, 42(4), 371-393.

Zeichner, K. M. & Liston, D. P. (1990). Traditions of Reform in U.S. Teacher Education. Journal of Teacher Education, 41(2), 3-20.

Liston, D. P. (1988). Faith and Evidence: Examining Marxist Explanations of Schools, American Journal of Education, 96(3), 323-350.

Zeichner, K.M. & Liston, D. P. (1987). Teaching Student Teachers to Reflect. Harvard Educational Review. 56(1), 23-48.

Liston, D. P. (1986). On Facts and Values: An Analysis of Radical Curriculum Studies. Educational Theory, 36(2), 137-152.

Liston, D. P.(1984). Have We Explained the Relationship between Curriculum and Capitalism? An Analysis of the Selective Tradition. Educational Theory, 34(.3), 241-253.

Book Chapters

Liston, D. P. (1995). Work in Teacher Education: A Current Assessment of U.S. Teacher Education. In N. Shimahara and I. Holowinsky (Eds.), Teacher Education in Industrialized Nations. New York: Garland Publishing.