emerge directly from the Teacher Education Unit’s mission and serve as goals for accomplishing the mission for teacher education at Millikin. They are central to all of the professional and pedagogical courses that comprise our programs.
Historically, the vision and mission of Millikin University is consistent with and supportive of the teacher education unit and its vision and mission. James Millikin founded Millikin University in 1901 with the goal of bridging the gap between the elite private colleges and land-grant universities. Millikin, concerned that private institutions emphasize education for its own sake, insisted that his university should also serve practical purposes. In the words of James Millikin:
“Millikin University shall be an institution where the scientific, the practical and the industrial shall have a place of equal importance, side by side, with the literary and the classical” (Millikin University Bulletin, 2002-2003, p. 5).
This institutional vision laid a foundation for and continues to nurture Millikin’s School of Education. Teacher education programs at Millikin have historically blended a solid foundation of liberal arts education with courses in practical pedagogy and hands-on experience in schools. In fact, Redford, G. & Redford, B. (2001, p. 23) list “a School of Pedagogy, offering courses in educational psychology, child study, philosophy and history of education, and general teaching methods” among the initial offerings of the Decatur College of James Millikin University when it opened on September 15, 1903.
In creating Millikin University, James Millikin further asserted that the school should avoid being narrowly sectarian, but should seek to provide education “on a broad plane in which all will be treated alike, regardless of sect or creed” (Millikin University Bulletin, 2002-2003, p. 5). The educational values that James Millikin espoused are wholeheartedly embraced by Millikin’s teacher education unit and reflected in Millikin’s 11 approved programs. As the education unit developed its conceptual framework, it has, over and over, used language reminiscent of James Millikin. Echoes of James Millikin are seen, for example, in the unit’s assertions that . . .
“excellence requires valuing diversity and establishing learning environments that are fair and equitable for all students” (Spring 2000, Committee on Teacher Education Programs).
“learning requires meaningful application in the real world and active, engaged, hands-on experiences in real contexts” (Endorsed on December 12, 2001 by the Education Unit and representatives from our wider professional community).
“teaching requires an inclusion that values and learns from diversity” (Endorsed on December 12, 2001 by the Education Unit and representatives from our wider professional community).
Our conceptual framework, in keeping with James Millikin’s founding vision, seeks to create communities of learners and learning environments that value diversity and are fair to and equitable for all students. It seeks to prepare teachers who “live, learn and teach respect for themselves and others” and “establish caring, empathetic interactions that promote students’ intellectual, social and personal development” (Conceptual framework organizing themes redrafted June 20, 2002).
In 2001, a new mission to support James Millikin’s founding vision was adopted by the Board of Trustees:
“Millikin’s mission is to offer an education that integrates the traditional liberal arts and the practical arts of the professions. Guided by faculty and staff, and within an inclusive and broadly accessible learning community, our students discover and pursue their full potential, personally and professionally, to do well and to do good. At Millikin, we prepare students for: professional success; democratic citizenship in a diverse and dynamic global environment; and a personal life of meaning and value” (Centennial Priorities Plan Brochure, Millikin University).
As a small university, Millikin provides students a wide choice of majors and programs found at much larger universities, while also offering the “small college experience” of an individualized education in a supportive environment that respects difference and fosters community. The University serves as a civic partner and an educational resource for adults, children and organizations in our local and regional communities, and as a continuing touchstone in the lives of our alumni.
This mission is realized through programming that encourages multidisciplinary study, community-centered co-curricular activities, a commitment to diversity, and cooperative programs with its host community. Similarly, this mission is realized in Millikin’s School of Education.
Multidisciplinary study. All teacher education (TE) candidates complete the multidisciplinary Millikin Program for Student Learning (MPSL), adopted in 1995 to reflect Millikin’s current vision. All TE candidates also complete either a full major or, in the case of elementary education candidates, an area of concentration in a discipline other than education and in the case of early childhood candidates, a special education letter of approval.
Community-centered co-curricular activities. The MPSL is designed to involve all students in learning that extends beyond the formal classroom, learning that emphasizes practical experience, and learning that recognizes the need for service to others, reaching beyond Millikin to the global society.
A commitment to diversity. TE candidates complete internships in schools with diverse student populations. They complete their teacher preparation at an institution with a diverse student body and diverse faculty, and they explicitly learn how to plan for, instruct and assess all students – including diverse students. Candidates have opportunities to teach and learn in diverse cultural settings through internships and student teaching in the Dominican Republic, Taiwan, and inner city Chicago through the Chicago Center for Urban Life and Culture.
Cooperative programs with Millikin’s host community. Our candidates complete multiple internships in area schools, including clinical practice as student teachers. In addition, many volunteer for other community service projects.
The Millikin Program for Student Learning provides directives for the content of both the general education components and the major fields. The MPSL was designed to develop a program of liberal learning that integrated curricular elements that would enable students to “function successfully in a globally interdependent world” (A New Program for Student Learning, 1995, p. 1). Faculty recognized the need to blend tradition and innovation.“This is a significant moment in the curricular history of the University: it is a time to preserve what is valuable, to enhance what needs to be strengthened, and to add new dimensions of learning to prepare students for life in the twenty-first century” (A New Program of Student Learning for Millikin University, 1995, p. 1.). Among the new dimensions that were added to the university studies curriculum are student learning goals, core questions, and core values, considered collectively to be common threads that integrate and connect students’ learning experiences. Once again, the core values reflect James Millikin’s initiatives, including the synthesis of theory and practice, critical thinking, ethics and values, and intercultural studies. After making several adjustments to general education requirements for TE candidates in January and February 2002, we now require that all TE candidates fulfill MPSL requirements.
The vision of teacher education at Millikin—Journey Toward Excellence in Teaching and Learning—is like the MPSL in that both call for continuous reflection, based on core questions and values. MPSL invites all Millikin students to continually address these questions: Who am I? How can I know? What should I do? In addition, teacher education candidates ask themselves: How have I become an active learner? How can I create communities of learners? How can I facilitate learning for others? How can I collaborate with other professionals?
In summary, Millikin’s mission, with its commitment to multidisciplinary study, diversity and the role of reflection in university study, resonates well with our conceptual framework.