March 3, 2008
The St. John’s Evening Telegram
I appreciate the opportunity to respond to a letter titled “Quality of Education suffers from fast tracked-teaching” which appeared in the Feb. 29, 2008 issue of The Telegram. I wish to correct many of the errors made regarding the consecutive [“fast track”] program offered by Memorial’s Faculty of Education. The program prepares students to be primary and elementary teachers. It is to them and those who have graduated from this excellent program that I direct these comments as they should know that claims made about them and the program are erroneous.
All students in teacher education programs at Memorial University receive preparation in all aspects of teaching and learning achieved through a broad range of courses and experiences. We offer courses in diverse learner needs and a course on the exceptional learner is required on all teacher preparation programs.
The Faculty of Education admits excellent students based on criteria including university grades. The average of those in both the integrated and consecutive programs is the same and far exceeds the minimum requirements to be admitted to the Faculty. That these are students "not accepted into the regular teacher education programs because of insuffcient grades" which the letter claims is entirely false. Furthermore, the program is a consecutive sixteen-month (four semester) program and not one of less than a year as stated in the letter.
The formats are the same for all programs with most courses being offered on-site at Memorial University in St. John’s or at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook, with options for web delivery. The Faculty of Education engages full-time faculty, sessional instructors and contractual appointees whom we are fortunate to hire from the school system. Our programs are further enriched by the involvement of classroom teachers in the school experience components such as the internship. All are dedicated, knowledgeable, highly qualified professionals working collaboratively with commitment to our students, our programs and the future of the teaching profession. Many are award-winning teachers who have received, for example, the University President’s Award for Exemplary Teaching and the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence.
We do not have to offer this program to make money. We have far more eligible applicants for any of our programs than we can admit. If revenue generation were our motivation, we would simply admit more students to other existing programs. We are offering this program because there is a need to which we have been responsive.
To our students: please be assured that we offer our teacher education programs with the assurance that you will be well prepared to assume the responsibilities of beginning teachers. We know this because of the reports we receive from school districts in this province and many other jurisdictions about the exceptional graduates of our programs.
The Faculty of Education appreciates the opportunity to work with educational agencies who share the same goals as we do for comprehensive education programs. We believe that working together to achieve these important goals will benefit the education system and the students we serve.
Dean of Education