Many are unaware of the power of the NCATE standards for the accreditation of schools of
education. In this article, I first trace the development of the political authority of these standards,
and their imposition on hundreds of schools of education. I then focus on the discourse
of these standards, particularly the emphasis on "knowledge, skills and dispositions" as personal
properties to control. I conclude with a call to highlight the struggles in which all
involved are engaged. [NCATE, teacher education, authority, conversation]
Full text as published
Too many anthropologists of education are unaware of the power over American education of the NCATE standards for the accreditation of schools of education. This paper is a call for paying closer attention to the exact process through which the means and discourses of authority change and are made inescapable to large populations. This paper traces briefly, first, the development of the NCATE standards in conversations among those with authority (politicians, state regulators, faculty members in schools of education), second, the imposition of these standards on hundreds of schools of education, third, aspects of the discourse of these standards–particularly the emphasis on “knowledge, skills and dispositions” as properties of person to change in prescribed directions. The paper concludes with thoughts on how to account for this moment in American history so as to highlight the struggles that all involved (including those in authority and those living by this authority) can be seen to be engaged in. Not much of all this is automatic or a matter, precisely, of “dispositions.” The paper ends with a request for authorizing a discourse that would not be a conversation about how best to identify “Johnny’s” (child, teacher, faculty) uniqueness–so that this uniqueness might be respected–practically.