The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University are residential colleges pursuing the liberal arts within the Catholic university tradition. These two rural Minnesota institutions work together to offer their students “a unified liberal arts curriculum which focuses on questions important for the human condition, demands clear thinking and communicating, and calls forth new knowledge for the betterment of humankind.” Through this shared curriculum these two colleges strive as one to offer their students “an integrative environment for learning which stresses intellectual challenge, open inquiry, collaborative scholarship, and artistic creativity.” These colleges recall their monastic founders by celebrating learning within Benedictine settings that “foster attentive listening to the voice of God, awareness of the meaning of one’s existence, and the formation of community built on respect for individual persons” (Academic Catalog, p. 4).
Congruent with the joint mission of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, the mission of the CSB/SJU Education Department is to provide exemplary teacher preparation within the framework provided by the Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice for Teachers. Building on our theme of Teacher as Decision-Maker, we seek to prepare teachers who use their content knowledge, pedagogical skills, and understanding of student needs to make informed, ethical classroom decisions that foster their students' learning.
Drawing from the liberal arts tradition, we seek to prepare teachers who possess a rich and diverse background of coursework and experiences that stress intellectual challenge, open inquiry, collaborative scholarship, and promote clear thinking. Embedded within our belief in the necessity of a broad, liberal arts education is an emphasis on the basic skills of reading, critical thinking, and writing. Therefore, we seek to provide experiences throughout our program that enhance the development of these skills. Further, we attempt to emphasize the Benedictine values of openness to change and lifelong learning as essential to continued teaching effectiveness and seek to model these values by keeping abreast of and teaching about the latest technologies and instructional trends.
In addition to a rich, liberal arts experience, it is our mission to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to make effective classroom decisions. Drawing from the Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice, we endeavor to provide a strong knowledge of content, foundations, and pedagogy as well as the practical skills (including the use of instructional technology) essential to classroom success. We realize, however, that knowledge and skills attained in a college classroom are not enough. Therefore, to enable the fulfillment of our mission, our program allows for frequent opportunities to apply the knowledge, practice the skills, and then reflect on their outcome.
Consistent with Catholic and Benedictine values, we seek to develop teachers who have a commitment to service and building a classroom community which respects all persons. We realize that for this to happen, we must be vigilant in our efforts to increase teacher candidates’ knowledge of diversity and help them examine their own biases and beliefs so that they are able to make educational decisions that enhance the development of all learners. Therefore, content and experiences involving elements of cultural diversity are consciously woven throughout our curriculum.
Building on our theme, philosophy, and mission, our aim is prepare exemplary teachers who have a strong liberal arts background, exemplify Benedictine values, and make professional decisions which help all students achieve their full potential as persons and as responsible world citizens in a democratic society.
Academic Catalog 2000 - 2001. (2000). St. Joseph, MN: College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University.
Barbour, Nita (1986). Teachers can make decisions. Childhood Education, May/June, pp. 322-324.
Brubaker, Dale L. and Simon, Lawrence H. (1993). Teacher as decision-maker. Newbury Park, California: Sage Publications, Inc.
Cooper, James M. (1999). "The teacher as a decision-maker." In Classroom teaching skills ( 6th Ed.). James M. Cooper (editor) pp. 1-19. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.
de Waal, Esther (1984). Seeking god: The way of St. Benedict. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.
Shedd, Joseph B. (1986). "Teachers as decision-makers." Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Francisco, CA, April 16-20).
Smith, Carl B. (1992). Teacher as decision-maker. Bloomington, Indiana: Grayson Bernard Publishers.
Valli, Linda (1990, November). "Teaching as moral reflection: Thoughts on the Liberal Preparation of Teachers." Proceedings of the National Forum of the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education, Milwaukee, 4-14 to 4-29.