The overall mission of St. Olaf College is to challenge students to excel in the liberal arts, examine faith and values, and explore meaningful vocation in an inclusive, globally engaged community nourished by Lutheran tradition. Expanding upon this mission, the Education Department attempts to foster the development of the whole person in mind, body, and spirit.
The Education Department is an integral part of St. Olaf College. It is responsible for preparing effective and qualified teachers. Graduates of St. Olaf who complete the teacher education program integrate studies and experiences of professional education, the liberal arts, and a major in at least one field of study.
The professional and liberal arts components enhance the intellectual and spiritual responsibilities of teachers. Because teachers greatly influence the lives of young learners, it is imperative that schools be provided with professional teachers who are highly competent and dedicated. They should also have acquired leadership skills and attributes of reflection for action in order to contribute to the profession and society.
In order to become reflective teachers, pre-service candidates integrate the study and experiences of professional education, the liberal arts, and the academic major. Components of education for teachers include general education, pre-professional study in the social and behavioral sciences, academic specialization, and professional studies. Professional education is the bridge between the educated person and the professional teacher.
Reflective teaching is a way of thinking about educational matters. It involves the ability to recognize dilemmas, make rational choices, assess the intended and unintended consequences of those choices using practical, pedagogical, and ethical criteria, and accept responsibility for those consequences. Reflective teaching is teaching in which future actions are inferred from knowledge and past experience. That is, actions are the result of careful thought and decision-making rather than the result of an applied set of routine skills. The concept of reflectivity is a reasoned, principled response — either pre-planned or spontaneous but conscious — in which awareness of past experience and understandings is linked with present experience to lead to new action and appreciation.