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BARD COLLEGE ESTABLISHES NEW MASTER'S DEGREE PROGRAM IN TEACHING Building on Its History of Education Innovation, Bard's New Graduate Program Is Designed to Bring More Highly Qualified Teachers and New Teaching Methods to Public School Classrooms

Mark Primoff

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – Bard College’s long history of innovation in education, from its Institute for Writing and Thinking teacher-training programs to Bard High School Early College, takes another significant step this year with its new Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program. The program, which begins enrolling students in June, will both change the way teachers are trained and foster lasting improvements in precollege teaching nationwide.

Bard’s MAT Program is designed to address critical issues in the training of teachers for grades 7-12, such as subject-matter mastery for teachers, integrated clinical training, and the ability of new teachers to advance and implement innovative teaching methods in the classroom. Many secondary school teachers in the United States, for example, do not hold an undergraduate degree in the subject they teach, and rarely in the course of their training are prospective teachers asked to integrate subject-matter and pedagogy courses in a clinically meaningful way, or to research and practice new approaches to teaching.

"Our program is unique in its approach, requiring advanced study in the teacher’s chosen academic discipline, as well as complementary field-based study of issues in teaching and learning," said program director Ric Campbell. "Our primary goal is to educate teachers who will lead a positive transformation in the public schools, who will demonstrate expertise in their discipline and also possess critical knowledge and skills in the areas of teaching and learning." Affecting such a transformation in the schools requires teachers who can help high school students develop the thoughtful self-determination that builds from a genuine enthusiasm for learning, he explained, "an enthusiasm that results in students’ being able to apply methods of inquiry throughout their education and bring critical thinking skills to the pursuit of living more fully and responsibly."

"This is a logical step in expanding Bard’s role in helping to raise the standards of public schooling," said Bard College President Leon Botstein. "It follows on the heels of the creation of Bard High School Early College and many years of cooperation with local school districts. We’re pleased that New York State has approved the program and we’re delighted at their support of the program’s many innovative elements, particularly the focus on subject-matter mastery."

The core of Bard’s yearlong MAT Program is an integrated curriculum leading to a master of arts degree and teaching certificate in adolescent education in one of four subject areas: English, mathematics, physics, or history. In future years the program will be expanded to include certification in other fields, including art, biology, chemistry, foreign languages, and music. Applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree in liberal arts with a major in the elective discipline.

Bard MAT students are required to complete at least six graduate level courses in their elective discipline, while taking education courses that challenge them to apply the results of research and pedagogical analysis to classroom teaching. In each phase of their MAT experience, students must pursue a research question that engages them in the kind of reflective practice that is essential to teaching effectively and growing professionally.

Linked to advanced study in their field, the education curriculum helps MAT students to consider how they learn, and how alternative approaches to teaching and learning provide broader access to academic competence. "Combined with student- teaching experiences spread over the full academic year, and the active participation of mentor teachers and MAT faculty advisers, the program’s innovative courses provide the basis for crucial reflection about educational practice," Campbell said.

Throughout the 12 month program, all courses are closely integrated with teaching experiences, beginning in the summer as tutors, followed by 140 hours of field experiences in the fall and two 10-week sessions of student teaching in the winter and spring quarters. Bard has confirmed partnerships with several local public school districts, including Chatham, Red Hook, Kingston, and Arlington. Bard High School Early College in New York City will also serve as a site for MAT student-teaching assignments and mentoring opportunities. The course work and field work will be a part of the common curriculum, which is integrated with an active advisory program in which students in small groups are closely supported by a dedicated MAT faculty member through biweekly meetings (and more as necessary) throughout the year.

"We hope to attract recent graduates from liberal arts colleges who possess enthusiasm for their academic discipline and a desire to bring this enthusiasm, along with innovative teaching methods, to the public school classroom," Campbell says. "There is a large and growing need nationwide not just for teachers, but for educators who can move beyond the mandate of standardized testing and instill intellectual curiosity in our adolescents. Over time, this translates to long-term academic success, an appreciation for the life of the mind, and full, informed participation in society."

Prospective applicants to Bard College’s new MAT Program should contact Ric Campbell at 845-758-7776 or for information and application materials. Visit the Bard College MAT Program website at

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This event was last updated on 09-29-2004