Current Trends in Canadian Teacher Education
In the last 20 years, many faculties of education in Ontario developed strong partnerships with school districts, involved classroom teachers in program delivery, redesigned programs to be more coherent and relevant, conducted research on preservice programs, and increased opportunities for reflective practices. However, many of the problems long associated with teacher education remained: underfunding of programs, lack of recognition for professors working in teacher education, conflicting values and goals between the university and school boards, and poor integration of theory and practice. In addition to internal conflicts, wide fluctuations in demand for teachers caused huge swings in the number of applications to programs. In one decade, we will have faced both a surplus and shortage of teachers. Many of the problems and achievements experienced in Ontario are common to other North American teacher education programs. We should celebrate our accomplishments, yet look cautiously to the future. The current government in Ontario has already reduced funding to education by $500 million dollars and more reductions are likely to occur.
It is difficult to discuss teacher education in Ontario as whole; yet, there are some trends common to many programs. In this paper, we begin with a discussion of the report entitled Teacher education in Ontario: Current practice and options for the future (1989), prepared by Michael Fullan, F. Michael Connelly, and Nancy Watson. This report has had significant impact on teacher education in the province. We then shift to a discussion of a specific program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto (OISE/UT), which exemplifies many of the principles outlined in that report and is indicative of directions in teacher education in Ontario. Finally, we examine a recent development in education, the founding of the Ontario College of Teachers. Throughout the paper, we provide examples of directions, achievements, and challenges from various faculties of education in Ontario.
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