John Goodlad

JOHN I. GOODLAD is Professor Emeritus in the College of Education and co-founder of the Center for Educational Renewal at the University of Washington as well as President of the Institute for Educational Inquiry in Seattle. While he has previously held faculty positions at Emory University, the University of Chicago, and the University of California at Los Angeles, Goodlad first taught in a one-room, eight-grade school house in British Columbia, Canada. His experiences as a classroom teacher encouraged his later educational research examining grading procedures, curriculum inquiry, the functions of schooling, and teacher education.

Recognized for his distinguished contributions to educational renewal, Goodlad drew national attention and spurred research efforts on school improvement through his award-winning book, A Place Called School (1984). Honored for his lifelong commitment to universal education as a mainstay of democracy, Goodlad has received numerous awards and honorary degrees including the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education (1999), the first Brock International Prize in Education (2002), and the John Dewey Society Outstanding Achievement Award (2009). Goodlad has authored or edited more than three dozen books, 200 articles in scholarly publications, and 80 book chapters and encyclopedia entries. His more recent publications include: In Praise of Education (1997), Education for Everyone: Agenda for Education in a Democracy (2004), and Romances with Schools: A Life of Education (2009).

For more information, visit John Goodlad’s Website. To learn more about John Goodlad from his family and friends, visit his Reflections. To view photographs from John Goodlad’s personal collection, visit his Photo Gallery.


Visit the video below to watch a short overview of the interview with John Goodlad. Otherwise, see all six of the full interviews with John Goodlad below.

Video Interviews with John Goodlad:

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Raised with his brothers in Vancouver, British Columbia, Dr. John Goodlad spent his childhood exploring the nearby mountains and playing sports with other young boys in the neighborhood. Although Goodlad immensely enjoyed reading, he resisted going to school, even attempting to run home on the first day! Despite Goodlad’s advanced reading ability, his parents were initially advised that he should repeat first grade. However, at his father’s insistence, Goodlad proceeded uninterrupted to the next level and eventually skipped ahead an entire year. Watch this clip to hear stories about Dr. Goodlad’s favorite teacher and learn how the Great Depression shaped his own career path.

In his early years as a teacher, Dr. John Goodlad taught in a rural one-room, eight-grade school house with few books or supplies and a modest yearly salary. Frustrated with the prescribed curriculum and rigid grading procedures, Goodlad used innovative instructional strategies to engage his students, many of whom had already been retained in the same grade several times. Goodlad expresses his disappointment in schools today that focus almost exclusively on the direct impact of teachers on student learning, arguing that the functions of schooling also include interactions with families and the zeitgeist or spirit of a school. In this clip, learn more from Dr. Goodlad about the need for practice-driven research in the field of education.

Convinced that grade retention is detrimental to students both academically and socially, Dr. John Goodlad has served as an advocate for nongraded elementary schools throughout his career. As a graduate student at the University of Chicago, he examined the effects of grade promotion and retention on students who had produced work of similar quality and challenged critics who argue that nongraded schools based on students’ interests are impractical at best. Citing more than 100 years of research, Dr. Goodlad insists that student classification practices must be reconsidered. Watch this clip to share Dr. Goodlad’s passion for student learning and learn more about his role as a leader in education improvement.

Likening schooling to an industrial-age assembly line, Dr. John Goodlad describes the frustration and lack of motivation experienced by workers who never saw the finished product. He identifies a similar problem in schooling whereby teachers and parents rarely discuss educational outcomes. Founded by Goodlad to spur dialogue about issues in education, the National Network for Educational Renewal creates a space for interaction between arts and science experts, school teachers and administrators, and university researchers. In this clip, learn more about Dr. Goodlad’s innovative ideas for improving teacher education and communication among those concerned with educational renewal.

Recognized for his groundbreaking study of more than 1,000 schools across the United States in A Place Called School (1984), Dr. John Goodlad recalls an article about his book featured on the front page of the New York Times. Despite his message of optimism and improvement, Goodlad explains that most reporters contacted him after publication, requesting more “dirt” on schools. Carefully noting the need for educational renewal rather than reform, Goodlad describes collaboration among teachers and parents as the most meaningful way to improve American schools. Praising these stakeholders as vital to the renewal process, Goodlad insists that “agency must be closest to the child.” Watch this clip to hear more from Dr. Goodlad about “inexcusable malpractice” in schooling and the teachers who inspire him most.

Deeply appreciated by his students long after they have left the classroom, Dr. John Goodlad remains at the forefront of educational renewal. Readily challenging those who follow traditional fingerposts in education as guides for school improvement, Goodlad explains that “ideas are easy to come by but hard to do.” Goodlad, inspired by his late wife to demand “education for everyone,” continues his commitment to quality schooling through collaboration with colleagues in the field. In this clip, enjoy stories about Dr. Goodlad from the family and friends who know him best.

Amrein-Beardsley, A. (2012, April 20). Inside the Academy video interviews with Dr. John Goodlad [Video files]. Retrieved from http://insidetheacademy.asu.edu/john-goodlad