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Robert N. Bush, leader in teacher education, dies at 80

STANFORD -- Professor Emeritus Robert N. Bush, prominent nationally and internationally for his role in teacher education, died Saturday, March 5, of congestive heart failure at his campus home. He was 80.

A specialist in secondary and higher education, Bush served as chairman of the National Commission on Teacher Education and Professional Standards of the National Education Association, and as an adviser, consultant and director of field studies for many local, state, regional, national and international groups.

He was a consultant to the Ford Foundation on secondary education and teacher education in 50 countries in South America, Africa, Australia, the Pacific Islands and Europe, and was a member of a UNESCO Seminar on Teacher Education for Asian educators in the Philippines.

Always interested in relating theory to practice, Bush in his work attempted to show how knowledge gained from research could be used to develop new educational procedures. He was instrumental in development of two educational innovations that gained wide acceptance: flexible scheduling and microteaching. Microteaching scaled everything down so that the teacher could work on one aspect at a time, instead of trying to do everything at once. It also included videotaping a teacher to help improve his or her skills.

Bush joined the Stanford faculty in 1945, after serving for two years as dean of the faculty at Kansas State Teachers College. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in history and political science at Colorado State University, Greeley, in 1935 and 1937, then went on to earn his doctorate in higher education at Stanford in 1941 under Alvin C. Eurich.

Stanford education Professor Richard E. Snow said that Bush was a "leading figure in teacher education and in the redesign of schools." In developing flexible scheduling, Bush broke open the "egg-crate conception in schools and looked at flexible grouping and time scheduling."

In 1959, Bush launched the Stanford Teacher Education Program with a $900,000 Ford Foundation grant. The program prepares students for secondary teaching and provides a master's degree in education and a credential in a single subject area.

In 1965, he cofounded with Professor Nathaniel Gage the Stanford Center for Research and Development in Teaching, an interdisciplinary program sponsored by the federal government that included faculty from the fields of anthropology, economics, education, linguistics, psychology, psychiatry and sociology. He headed the center until his retirement in 1976.

The center, now known as the Center for Educational Research at Stanford, conducts research on teaching methods in elementary and secondary schools, ways of improving school organization to improve teaching, and teaching in bilingual and bicultural settings.

Gage said that Bush was "more instrumental than anyone else" in developing the proposal for the program. "He took a broad view of educational research and was one of the first to see the promise of anthropological approaches to the study of schools and classrooms."

In Bush's 11 years as director, the center produced more than 200 research reports, his scholars wrote 22 books, and more than 100 doctoral students were trained.

Bush also was active in securing funds and directing plans for the center's facility, built at Alvarado Row and Galvez Street in 1972. The building, unusual at the time, featured open- landscape offices that could be reconfigured as programs changed. It was equipped with a television and film studio, research laboratories, classrooms and computation facilities.

Bush also served for a time as director of the Stanford Urban/Rural Leadership Training Institute. Funded by the U.S. Office of Education beginning in 1971, the program provided technical and developmental assistance to 26 school systems across the country in poverty-stricken inner cities and rural America, including Appalachia.

In 1977, Bush was cited for his "exemplary leadership in American education" by the Teacher Corps, another Education Office program that he had played a leading role in developing. A program akin to a domestic Peace Corps, the Teacher Corps employed volunteers as teachers in poverty-stricken or inner-city areas.

The citation said that Bush's "uncompromised goal was to bring equality of educational opportunity within the mind's reach and physical grasp of every American child, rich or poor."

During his long Stanford career, Bush served as a research associate with the Stanford Social Studies Investigation, director of Vocational Guidance and Placement, director of the University Summer School and exceptional student ambassador and faculty coordinator of the Alumni Conferences. He also was liaison to the Stanford Associates.

In 1955-56, Bush and his wife, Nancy Burton Bush, both received Fulbright grants for research at the University of Sydney, Australia, and at Victoria University College in Wellington, New Zealand.

The Ford Foundation later funded them to study education and the improvement of university teaching in 50 countries. They continued consulting at the invitation of universities and the government departments of higher education in Colombia and Brazil.

Bush's professional affiliations included membership on the national committee for revising national accreditation standards for teacher education; the executive board of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; the executive panel of the Far West Regional Educational Laboratory; the board of trustees of the Council on Educational Development and Research; the advisory board of the National Teacher Examination; the New Horizons Task Force on Teaching Education of the National Education Association; and the educational advisory board of the New York Times.

Bush was editor of the Journal of Secondary Education from 1953 to 1963. He wrote widely for educational journals and was author of The Teacher-Pupil Relationship and coauthor of A New Design for High Schools: Assuming a Flexible Schedule. He also served on the editorial advisory boards of the Journal of the California Teachers Association and the Educational Forum.

In addition to his wife of 53 years, Bush is survived by a daughter, Wendy Bush Faris, a professor of comparative literature at the University of Texas-Arlington. He also is survived by a son, Robert Burton Bush, a painter and arts administrator; a daughter-in- law, Carolyn Clark Bush; and grandson, all of Santa Barbara, Calif.

No services will be held.


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