The Department of Curriculum & Teaching, established in 1938, was the first of its kind in the U.S., a department devoted to the scholarly study of problems of curriculum and teaching across all subjects and all levels of schooling, from early childhood through the doctorate. The education of teachers, supervisors, and, as we now emphasize, teacher-leaders working both within and without traditional classroom arrangements, has always been a priority. Broad questions about the nature, purpose, and design of curriculum and schooling, and about the theory and practice of teaching, remain at the core of all our programs.
Addressing such questions today calls for critical analyses of the ways in which curriculum, teaching, and schooling contribute to social inequalities, and for a commitment to educating for social justice. Thus, in all our programs, the preparation of teachers, educational leaders, teacher educators, and educational researchers is designed to provide students with the intellectual tools needed to re-imagine schools and other educational enterprises, with the ultimate aim of enabling all children, including in particular those who have acquired labels and those who have been, and are, stigmatized and excluded on the basis of race, first language, or country of origin, access to and success at a rich and critical education.
Our location in New York City compels us to focus intensely on the lives of children and youth who attend under-resourced schools and face complex challenges in urban centers. This concern, however, is compatible with and indeed enriches attention to problems of teaching and curriculum in suburban and rural settings as well as international contexts. A distinctive feature of the Department, and of Teachers College as a whole, is the breadth and complexity of perspectives afforded by a student population that is truly local, national, and international.
The Department and the program in Curriculum and Teaching are organized around three philosophical stances underlying Teachers College as a whole, reflecting its long-standing tradition of preparing teachers as education leaders: teaching as inquiry, teaching as curriculum making, and teaching for social justice.