It’s hard not to feel discouraged by where we find ourselves more than a year into the coronavirus pandemic here in Alberta. Soaring infection rates and the corresponding public health measures recently introduced to bring them under control make it seem like we’ve made little progress in emerging from the conditions that have constrained our activities and kept us apart from colleagues, friends and loved ones.
Carol Ann Page says she always had a love of learning and dreamed of becoming a teacher. She was the first person in her extended family to attend university. While relying on student loans and working part time, her determination and strong work ethic resulted in a superior academic standing in her first year, and she was selected as a candidate for a foreign exchange scholarship. The opportunity was dismissed at home.
Educators seeking effective, authentic ways to incorporate more First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) ways of knowing, being and doing in their teaching will find the support they’re looking for at the Faculty of Education’s Summer Institute.
The 2021 Summer Institute, which takes place July 5-23 on the U of A’s North Campus, comprises two courses designed to deepen understanding of Indigenous foundational knowledge and knowing, and how those understandings might be expressed in institutional settings for the benefit of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike.
Leith Campbell (‘73 Dip(Ed), ‘78 MEd) says there wasn’t much research to fall back on when he began working in the early 1970s as a counselor with students from the Enoch Cree Nation who were attending Edmonton schools. In fact, he felt like he was starting from scratch.
“I had no list of children, I had no files, and I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do,” Campbell recalls.” There was nothing on paper at all about how to work with Indigenous children at all when I started.”
One of the first lessons Karen Barnes (’93 MEd, ’03 EdD) learned when she took a job at Yukon College in 2008 was that the North didn’t need assistance to become self-sufficient. It needed tools.
And, as vice-president of academics, she knew education was the key to that tool box.
Danielle Skogen says she just wanted to see a bit of the world and work on her Spanish when she decided to take a short break from her new career as an elementary school teacher in Calgary to travel to Guatemala. “I thought I’d follow that passion for six months, get it out of my system, and come back to Alberta ready to settle down and move forward as a teacher,” said Skogen, who completed her bachelor of education degree at Campus St-Jean in 2011.
Audrey Ochoa was already establishing herself as a working musician in high school when her parents sat her down for the talk.
“Both my parents were adamantly like, ‘Play music, have fun, but we really need you to get a real education, Audrey,’” Ochoa recalls. “The U of A has a BMus/BEd combined degree, it’s a five-year program and you end up with a music degree and an education degree, so it was like a no-brainer. And it was a good idea.”
Fall Convocation 2020 will see the inaugural cohort of the Health and Physical Education Master of Education students graduate. Led by Elementary Education professors Doug Gleddie and Hayley Morrison and Secondary Education professor Lauren Sulz, the program is designed to allow teachers to pursue their master’s degree over two years through a combination of online courses and a two-week in-person component in each summer of the program.
This fall has looked very different from previous years in the Faculty of Education. To protect the health and safety of students and faculty, the vast majority of our courses are being delivered remotely this semester, while most staff provide support from their home offices.
School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) alumna and former faculty member Heidi Julien says that a library and information studies degree is a passport. Looking at her CV, it would be easy to take Julien’s assertion literally.