Professor Harste received his B.S. from St. Cloud State College (1964, elementary education), and his M.A. (educational administration, 1969) and Ph.D. (1971, education) from the University of Minnesota. He joined IU in 1971 and became the Armstrong Chair in Teacher Education in 1997.
Professor Harste is an expert in early written language literacy learning. His extensive studies of what young children know about reading and writing prior to school pushed the field of literacy education toward a socio-psycholinguistic theory of literacy learning. Subsequent research studies have involved work in classroom with preservice and inservice teachers exploring what a conducive environment for literacy learning might look like given a socio-psycholinguistic view of the literacy learning process.
Professor Harste was awarded the David H. Russell Research Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Teaching of English from the National Council of Teachers of English, the Albert J. Kingston Award from the National Reading Conference, a Special Service Award from the International Reading Association, and a Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Literacy Award from Indiana University. In 1997 he was elected to the Reading Hall of Fame and in 2008 he was named Outstanding Language Educator for lifetime achievements by the Elementary Section of NCTE. Professor Harste has been president of the National Reading Conference, the Whole Language Umbrella, and the National Conference on Research in Language and Literacy and the National Council of Teachers of English. In addition he has been on the executive board of the International Reading Association.
Prior to his retirement in January 2006, he routinely taught courses around topics of interest; early literacy learning, socio-psycholinguistic processes in learning to read and write, socio-semiotics, and the semiotics of school and teacher education reform. Dr. Harste was the recipient of the 2004 Herman Fredric Bachman Lieber Teaching Award at IU.