The Continuing Understanding of, Commitment to, and Impact of the Spiritual Principles of the Lutheran Teaching Ministry on the 1972 Graduates of Concordia Teachers College
Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
In 1973 after a year of graduate study, I accepted a call to a Lutheran high school where I taught and coached for eight years. Then, during a period of great personal distress and under intense financial pressure, I decided to resign and thus withdrew from the Lutheran teaching ministry. I regretted it almost immediately and indeed it was four school years before I was able to re-enter the teaching ministry. That experience was really the starting point for the research. So many Lutheran teachers (including many 1972 CTC-Seward classmates in what would become the study population) seem to withdraw from the teaching ministry either permanently or temporarily, that my own motives, expectations. and experiences simply confirmed the need for such a study. I have long wanted to do serious research on Lutheran teachers and former teachers. Thus from the outset I found that I was able to discuss my own dissertation goals rather clearly, and I quickly focused on a class from Concordia Teachers College. Since the study population would be a small group with clear boundaries and shared convictions, a qualitative case study design seemed the proper methodology. At that point the purpose of the study needed further definition and focus. What exactly could be learned from such research and study population? And what exactly did I wish to discover and then share? The answers would necessarily form a new question, the main research question, and it would be at once both simple and difficult: easy to express but somewhat harder to actually answer or discover. Who is still teaching and why, and who is not teaching and why not? To simply measure the retention and withdrawal of Lutheran teachers seemed too empirical. Such measurement may be part of the answer. but does not focus on why teachers remain or withdraw. Exploring the meaning of teacher withdrawal led naturally to the question of how professional teacher formation influences Lutheran teacher retention. An initial research question was thus, "What is the continued understanding, commitment, and influence of their professional formation on Lutheran teachers?" But that question seemed to focus too much on teacher preparedness and the institution, rather than on the commitment, experiences, and motives of Lutheran teachers in leaving or remaining in the teaching ministry...