Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Program or a Collection of Courses?

I was reminded today about something that one of my colleagues - someone I consider a mentor in my early years as a professor - used to say repeatedly as we worked on creating and fine tuning the teacher education program at the University of Regina.

He would regularly remind us that the program we were developing was a 'program' not a collection of classes.

What he meant by that is reflected in the teacher education literature today as programs that are cohesive, developmental and integrated. In other words there should be a logic, a progression, scaffolding, and dependencies between each of the bits and pieces of the teacher education program. Advanced courses should depend on what was learned in junior courses. Junior courses should be focused on preparing students for the more advanced courses. And the whole program should be aimed at preparing the best, most thoughtful, most skillful and most motivated beginning teachers.

The implications of this is that professors need to know what is happening in other professors courses. Students should be able to relatively easily see the connections between the content of one course and all the other courses they are taking. The field experiences should be integrated with coursework and together coursework and field experiences should advance the student in their quest to finding their own personal teaching identity.

This is very labour intensive in terms of understanding the way the curriculum of a teacher education program is integrated. Which takes away from some of the other duties professors see as vital to maintaining their positions.

So many issues if we consider the preparation of teachers as the central, overriding mission of a faculty of education.

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