At Marian University, we view teaching and learning as processes like those involved in weaving a tapestry. While there are important skills and knowledge to be learned, individuals will create a unique, personal tapestry, because of differences in background, personality, and motivation. Marian University is the loom, providing the knowledge framework and the work space for the learning that takes place throughout a student's coursework.
There are two basic types of thread woven together to form a tapestry: warp and weft. The vertical, or warp, threads form the foundation on which the other threads are woven. These threads originate in general education, liberal arts courses, life experience, and any previous work in higher education. The warp threads form the foundation for the pedagogical learning of our teacher education candidates.
The knowledge, skills, and dispositions gained from the professional education courses form the horizontal, or weft, threads. These strands include an emphasis on helping the beginning teacher to:
- understand how learners grow and develop,
- use understanding of differences and diverse cultures,
- work with others to create environments that support individual and collaborative learning,
- understand the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline(s) he/she teaches,
- understand how to connect concepts and use different perspectives to engage learners,
- understand and use multiple methods of assessment,
- plan instruction that supports every student in meeting rigorous learning goals,
- understand and use a variety of instructional strategies,
- engage in ongoing professional learning,
- seek appropriate leadership roles and opportunities to take responsibility for student learning, and
- develop a commitment to teaching as a moral endeavor.
The circle surrounding the tapestry represents the school's knowledge base: intentionality of action, developmentally appropriate practices, best practices in the content areas, modeling and mentoring, transcultural approaches to address the diversity of students, and reflective practice. These six areas reflect the knowledge and skill base by which the teacher candidates construct their weavings. Embedded are the four Franciscan core values of dignity of the individual, peace and justice, reconciliation, and responsible stewardship.
Because a weaver works on the reverse side of the tapestry and does not see the completed design until the work is cut free from the loom, a small hand mirror is often used to catch glimpses of the right side of the work to see how it is progressing. Teaching experiences allow small glimpses of how theory and practice are being interlaced in the development of the beginning teacher.
Before the work is removed from the loom, the selvedges, or reinforced outer edges of the tapestry, must be completed. A weaver's skill is often judged by how straight the selvedges are. Metaphorically, each program's capstone experience ties together the learning from general education, specialty studies and professional education coursework and teaching experiences, much like the selvedges tie together the finished tapestry. Once the final selvedge is complete, the tapestry is removed from the loom. This long awaited "freeing from the loom" is the performance that verifies program completion for recommendation of licensure from Marian University.
Even though the tapestry is removed from the loom, it still is not fully complete. There are a number of small slits or gaps that must be sewn together by hand. Marian University graduates will continue lifelong learning to refine and embellish the tapestry they have created. The product of weaving can be a beautiful tapestry; however, the intricate process involving the gift of self makes the product that much more beautiful.