Lee Shulman was born and raised in Chicago, the only son of Jewish immigrants who owned a small delicatessen called The Logan Delicatessen. These early experiences in the deli led to a profound appreciation of pastrami and the well-marbled life. Educated at a yeshiva high school, Shulman won a scholarship to the University of Chicago, where he studied philosophy and psychology. He entered the department of education and studied with Benjamin Bloom and Joseph Schwab, among others. He was particularly influenced by Schwab’s work on the structure of different disciplines, which later resurfaced in his work on teacher knowledge. This early introduction to disciplinary knowledge has been a consistent thread throughout Shulman’s career.
“Research begins in wonder and curiosity but ends in teaching” – Lee Shulman
Shulman’s first academic job was with the College of Education at Michigan State University, Never content to stay within departmental boundaries, Shulman collaborated with a colleagues in the medical school, Arthur Elstein, who also happened to have been Lee’s college roommate. This collaboration led to a study of medical decision making among expert diagnosticians (Medical Problem Solving). Two themes from this book have continued to resonate throughout Shulman’s careers: 1) the focus on cognition in professional practice, particularly under conditions of uncertainty and 2) the domain-specificity of expertise.
“The challenge is to get inside the heads of practitioners, to see the world as they see it, then to understand the manner in which experts construct their problem spaces, their defintions of the situation, thus permitting them to act as they do.”
– Lee Shulman
In 1982, Shulman moved to Stanford University’s School of Education, where he was to become the Charles E. Ducommun Professor Education. It was in his early years at Stanford that he engaged in in the conceptual conception of “pedagogical content knowledge,” the term that launched a new stage of research in teaching and teacher education).
“Within the category of pedagogical content knowledge, I include, for the most regularly taught topics in one’s subject area, the most useful form of representation of those ideas, the most powerful analogies, illustrations, examples, explanations, and demonstrations—in a word, the ways of representing and formulating the subject that make it comprehensible to others.” – Lee Shulman
Lee Shulman has spent his professional life advocating for the importance of teacing at all levels, from kindergarten through graduate school. He is best known for his work on the knowledge base of teaching, including the construct of pedagogical content knowledge, (include hyperlink to page on pck), for his efforts to promote the scholarship of teaching in higher education, (hyperlink to page on scholarship of teaching and learning) , and for his studies of professional education (hyperlink to prof ed page). This website reflects the range of his interests and his impact on scholarship and institutions worldwide.
- 1968 – Fellow, American Psychological Association
- 1973-74 – Guggenheim Fellow
- 1976-78 – Editor, Review of Research Education
- 1977 – Distinguished Faculty Award, Michigan State University
- 1979-80 – Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Science
- 1984-85 – President, American Education Research Association
- 1986 – Outstanding Writing Award, American Association of College for Teacher Education
- 1987 – Distinguished Leadership Award, Association of Teacher Educators
- 1989 – American Educational Research Association Award for Distinguished Contributors to Educational Research
- 1989-1993 – President, National Academy of Education
- 1994 – Crystal Apple Award, California Council on the Education of Teachers
- 1995 – E.L. Thorndike Award for Distinguished Psychological Contributions to Education, American Psychological Association
- 1995 – John Dewey Annual Lecturer, John Dewey Society
- 2002 – Fellow, American Academy of Arts & Sciences
- 2003 – Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
- 2004 – George Washington University President’s Medal
- 2004-07 – Chair, Harvard Graduate School of Education Visiting Committee
- 2006 – Grawmeyer Award in Education
- 2007 – Teachers College Medal
- 2008 – Lifetime Achievement Award, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education