Students at the Graduate School of Education began a massive effort for reform at the Ed School this weekend.
The students, who are organizing ad hoc committees to deal with particular issues, criticized the Ed School's overemphasis on suburban schools, its poor balance between theory and practice, and its inadequate preparation of teachers for conditions in schools.
Donald W. Oliver, professor of Education said yesterday that the students were not attacking the problem of reform correctly. He explained that reform-minded students have only been concerned with changing established policies rather than obtaining a voice in the policy-making process.
"We need avant-garde students," Oliver said, "who are willing to push the administration to the breaking point to see if there is a basic willingness to change." The main force blocking reform, he added, has always been the apathy and indifference of the students.
The students who are agitating for reform admit that student apathy is a shortcomings in the school's programs.
Thomas A. Wilson, one of the student leaders, criticized the Ed School for being too concerned with training teachers for suburban schools when many Ed students are interested in teaching in cities. He is organizing a committee to study the problems of urban education in an effort to get the Ed School to place more emphasis on training teachers for city schools.
Students are also dissatisfied with the one-year Master of Arts in Teaching program. Terry Van Brunt, another of the students involved in the reform movement, said that a great number of MAT graduates leave teaching after a single year. "Harvard's not training teachers" he said," who are equipped with the experience and know-how to cope with the conditions they face in the schools."
Students are not prepared for the presence from the school administration and reactionary elements in the community which often become overwhelming, he said.
Brunt also criticized the admissions policy of the School for placing too much emphasis on preparation in a specific field, and not enough on such qualities as strength to withstand pressure.