Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



What does it mean to teach well? What does it mean to be a good teacher? These are questions that have been asked for hundreds if not thousands of years; yet, an unequivocal answer has not been reached. Drawing on Thomas Kuhn’s (1962/1996) concept of a paradigm, it is easy to see that the field of curriculum is anything but paradigmatic. Competing philosophical, psychological, and sociological schools of thought, for example, all support differing ideas of what “good teaching” looks like, and teacher education programs often reflect this diversity of thought. The situation does not end at the borders of campuses, either. Not only must teachers aspire to live up to their own ever-evolving ideas of what it means to be a good teacher, but they must also grapple with often differing conceptions of what good teaching means to their coworkers, their school’s administration, their students, their students’ parents, and others. This dissertation is a meditation on my experiences of teaching and being taught—it is about being caught between conflicting and sometimes incommensurable ideas about what it means to teach well and how teachers can find a space to work productively and sanely in the tensions that abound. It has both personal and communal aspects and fluctuates between the subjective and social. On the one hand, it is a way to work through curricular issues I have faced as well as a way to help me think about issues I encounter in daily life. On the other hand, it is a way to share some of my experiences and insights with those in the field of education and to engage with them in a conversation about teaching. While this dissertation focuses on a recursive analysis of my teaching-learning experiences over three decades, it also attempts more. It endeavors to place those experiences within a larger social and cultural frame. In this manner, I hope a deeper understanding of what each reader—teacher educator or practitioner in the field—believes constitutes "good teaching" may emerge.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Doll, Jr., William E.



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Education Commons