Philosophy, Purpose, and Goals
The underlying philosophy of the faculty and programs in the School of Education at Sonoma State University and our Conceptual Framework is one of social justice and individual responsibility with respect to the education of children and youth in a multicultural, democratic society. In addition, we believe that learning happens best in a collaborative environment where children and youth construct knowledge through active participation, inquiry, and exploration of the world around them, and where ". . . teaching ends with new comprehension by both the teacher and the student." (Shulman, 1987) This philosophy is embodied in our vision statement and the ideals we hold for the performance expectations and dispositions of the graduates of our programs. The work and viewpoints of such philosophers, psychologists, and educators as John Dewey, Paulo Freire, Lev Vygotsky, Jean Piaget, Sonia Nieto, Luis Moll, Maxine Greene, and Henry Giroux permeate our thinking and our programs. We are proud of the way we have worked collectively to frame this discussion, incorporating not only our own perspectives and knowledge base, but the perspectives and knowledge base of teachers, principals, county office educators, and SSU faculty in the arts and sciences as well.
Evolution of the Conceptual Framework
In the fall of 2000 at the annual faculty retreat, the faculty began discussion of its mission statement. At the fall 2001 retreat, revision and refinement of the School of Education mission statement was a significant agenda item. Faculty used the Sonoma State University mission statement as well as knowledge about current university work on a diversity statement to guide this effort. At the Fall 2002 faculty retreat, full-time and adjunct faculty, our Educator in Residence (a faculty member from a local high school teaching full time with us), and other field representatives, including the incoming Superintendent of the Sonoma County Office of Education, met for final approval of the School of Education mission statement. In a stimulating and spirited series of small- and large-group discussions over a two-day period, the faculty and field representatives also developed and approved (by consensus) the five statements that comprised our Vision Statement and the accompanying Performance Expectations and Dispositions.
In the fall of 2007, the faculty undertook a reflective examination of the Conceptual Framework and our mission statements during the fall faculty retreat. In the spring of 2008, the following changes were approved:
- The Vision Statements were rewritten to represent a greater emphasis on the need for honoring the contributions of families and caregivers to the successful education of the whole student. This was accomplished by writing an additional vision statement.
- The Mission statement was fully discussed and rewritten to represent a much stronger and more specific statement that included the value of research, scholarship, and the advancement of education as a profession.
- The Performance Expectations and the Dispositions were rewritten with attention to the role of technology, family, and a direct statement about our belief that all students can learn.
Our visual representation of the Conceptual Framework was redesigned as well. The new version of our Conceptual Framework (CF) is current and incorporates the growing views of our faculty as well as includes the ideas and perspectives of our newer faculty members. We are proud of the work to refine our CF. This work represents our thoughtful discussion and shared refinement of our beliefs in order to better represent our views to our students, colleagues, service area partners, the public in general and ourselves (Table 1.3.ijk).