Not Too Big to Fail: How Teacher Education Killed the Foundations

David Gabbard, Boise State University
Lori J. Flint, East Carolina University

This document was originally published by Missouri State University in Critical Questions in Education. This work is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 Licence. Details regarding the use of this work can be found at:


Nearly forty years ago, Jonathan Kozol wrote on the perennial question posed by children: “Why do I have to go to school?”1 Rightfully, in our view, he admonishes those who would “act as though it were a foolish question.”2 We take issue, however, with his characterization of their canned response: “It is for your own good.”3 Kozol treats this as an act of dishonesty. If they were honest, he says, they would tell children that “they go to school for something that is called ‘their nation’s good.’”4 This presumes, of course, that adults know any more than children do about the origins of compulsory schooling, its history, and the ideas that have shaped its practices and defined its purposes, let alone how those practices and purposes are linked to Kozol’s treatment of “something that is called ‘their nation’s good.’” In fact, however, most people know nothing about the Foundations of schooling, and that includes a growing percentage of the people who work in schools and teacher education programs.