Like the cigarette commercial, "We've come a long way baby," teacher education has come a long way as well. Despite the many critics of education, it is an established fact that our educational record stands alone as a model. Throughout our history, professional educators have moved step-by-step to improve programs and to increase expectations. For the teacher, this has meant that the acceptable minimum of training has increased from completion of a year of education beyond the level achieved by the students they taught to graduation from normal school to completion of a 4-year college degree preparation program and beyond. Even more important are the many changes in program scope and depth. One need only compare the texts and journals we expected students 50 years ago to master with those we use now to realize how much more substantial our requirements are today. Students of today must master more content, acquire a more solid theoretical understanding, and be able to apply that content and theory in the classroom.
Though education's standards and expectations have been raised, we must do even better in the future. The world of the 21st Century will demand literacy of all, not just 90% of the population; the survival of every citizen will depend on possession of advanced manual and cognitive skills; the continued existence of society itself will require a literate and skilled citizenry that understands its origins and the context in which society develops and prospers.
There are a number of factors impacting upon teacher preparation today and in the future. Here are a selected few that I would like to focus on: (a) societal expectations, (b) limited life space, (c) problems of adequate funding, (d) adult and continuing education and lifelong learning, (e) the impact of technology, and (f) the knowledge base on education.