The Conceptual Framework of the English Education Program of Saint Xavier University

The English Education Program at Saint Xavier University exists to serve, instruct, and guide English majors as they prepare for a professional career in teaching the English Language Arts at the middle and secondary levels. The program is housed in the Department of English and Foreign Languages, but it is designed and administered in close collaboration with the School of Education. The program's goal is to enable students, or rather "teacher candidates," to experience a full professional formation in the contexts of the School of Education's Conceptual Framework, professional teaching and learning standards, and personal agency. Program experiences include courses, projects, portfolios, clinical experiences, conferences, checkpoints, and more--all of which are described and documented at the program site and portal (http://english.sxu.edu).

The mission of the English Education Program may be stated as follows:

Through reform, towards balance, empowered by language, the English Education Program equips teacher candidates to discover, create, and participate in communities of learning.

This summary statement of the conceptual framework of the English Education Program attempts to outline a "rounded statement of motives," in the sense of the "pentad" of act, scene, agent, agency, and purpose, as developed by the American literary scholar Kenneth Burke. Through the agency of reform, we hope to achieve the end (purpose) of balance. Teacher candidates (agents) participate in the "action" of language and its transformations, all in the cooperative/competitive "scene" of a community of learning.

The terms of this abstract statement may be filled out with the following definitions:

Reform: Reform is the essence of education. Whatever is, doesn't have to be, but can be made better, fuller, deeper: such is the meliorist thrust of education in general, and English education in particular, which empowers candidates with modes of critical thinking and aesthetic appreciation. More concretely, the program's reform emphases involve equipping candidates with the tools and methods of technology, constructivism, workshops, portfolios, collaboration, research skills, and more.

Balance: Balance provides our best hope for inclusiveness of many powerful and often dialectically-charged differences. Here are a few binaries and concepts the program attempts to help candidates balance:

  • Traditional methodologies and innovative methodologies
  • Real world and the world of words
  • Poetics, rhetoric, pedagogy, technology
  • Reflection and action
  • Individual and group
  • Personal and professional agendas
  • Etc. and etc.

By naming balance as a goal, the English Education Program hopes to promote the values of peace (within candidates and their communities) and diversity (with the full charges of dialectical difference contained and flourishing with the needed latitude).

Language: The phrase "empowered by language" is meant to suggest the all the resources of linguistic representation and transformation in the fullest possible sense of language as explored in modern and classical scholarship. This is the "realm of the English major," and among the many powers referenced here is the power of taking pleasure in humankind's stories, poems, and other texts passed on to those possessing the receptivity and training to enjoy them.

Equipping: The program is pragmatic at every turn; the program views education as a craft, and proficiency as made possible by the possession of, practice in, and respect for the tools of the trade.

Communities: All learning, development—and eventual action—are social. The processes of text production and reception, in being mediated by language, are mediated by the voices and peoples of the past and present. The inherent "sociality" of the "English major" is heightened by the pedagogical component, which involves the leading of others—children—toward awareness of and participation in both the textuality of reality and the social formation of personhood.

Learning: Learning is the beginning and end, the summative term of the program. All program components lead to and from this master term, which is simultaneously and variously co-substantial with act, scene, agency, purpose, and agent.