and professionalism (see also Appendix C and Appendix A, respectively). That effort followed extensive work on mathematics content and teaching standards by both the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM, 1989, 1991) and the Mathematical Sciences Education Board of the NRC (1989, 1990), including recommendations for the preparation of mathematics teachers (see also Appendix C).

Taken together, the visions and recommendations of all the above-mentioned organizations paint a picture of teacher education as a complex, career-long process that involves the continual intellectual growth and professionalism of teachers, both individually and collectively. Acknowledged is that teacher education can and does occur in a variety of ways and involves many different kinds of people, both inside and outside of college, and in school classrooms. Emphasized is the need for approaches to teacher education that employ methods of inquiry, classroom discourse, and other standards—recommended teaching strategies that both reflect and guide what teachers will be expected to use in the classroom with their own students. Understood is that learning to teach science, mathematics, and technology effectively very much depends on teachers mastering the content of these disciplines and having opportunities to practice their pedagogical content knowledge within school environments.

One of my previous ideas about inquiry was that it consisted mainly of doing laboratory activities. I discovered that, although labs can aid in the process of sense-making, they often don’t because they are either “cookbook” (they don’t allow the students to make choices or judgments) or “confirmatory” (they follow lectures or students’ reading). What I have realized is that the essence of inquiry does not lie in any elaborate, equipment-intensive laboratory exercise. It lies, rather, in the interactions between the student and the materials, as well as in the teacher-student and student-student interactions that occur dozens of times each and every class period.

Vignette of reflection from a high school physics teacher

National Research Council, 2000b, page 90



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