Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Not a collection of courses

I have worked as a Business Teacher Educator for quite some time now. I began working at the University of Regina in 1978. There were quite a number of us hired that year and most of my colleagues of that year are retired or dead. In my first year I heard a phrase that has stuck with me ever since. A Teacher Education program is not a collection of courses it is a well thought out developmental progression of learning and experiences encountered by prospective teachers which helps them become thoughtful, skillful beginning teachers.

Not a collection of course - intuitively this just seemed correct to me. Becoming a teacher could not possibly be a haphazard collection of experiences - it should not be a random set of classes nor should it be an unguided process for the student.

Not a collection of courses fits into my understanding of curriculum and of curriculum development.

Not a collection of courses fits into my understanding of how students became knowledgeable and skillful teachers - small steps, reinforced over a period of time, reflection, discussion with an expert, risk, growth and mastery - whether it be classroom skills or a deeper understanding of the context of education in schools and beyond.

For some reason the notion of 'not a collection of courses' has been somewhat lost. Critical approaches to education and teacher education have lessened the emphasis on development and students experience compartmentalized information - in spite of our attempts to integrate disciplines as evidenced in our new ECS (Core Studies) stream of courses.

I'm thinking about this because I am in the midst of reconceptualizing our Business Teacher Education program (or perhaps more correctly organizing the paperwork to be more in line with where we have evolved over the years). I read the outlines of courses outside of Business Education required of my students and I wonder what I can rely on in terms of their learning and understanding. What ideas can I/should I reinforce in my Business Ed courses that were introduced in these other courses. The questions go on and on.

One of my colleagues told me today about her upcoming retirement - I said that I didn't want to retire while I still enjoyed the work I did - facing a challenge like the one I described above is joyful for me - it causes me to think, to plan, to try ideas and it forces me to look at old things in new ways

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