The teachers and the taught

June 24, 2004, vol. 30, no. 5
By Carol Thorbes

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The old adage that the most reliable information comes from the horse's mouth is reason enough for teachers-in-training and teachers who mentor to read From Teacher to Teacher Educator.

The book's authors interviewed or surveyed more than 140 faculty associates over seven years before collaborating on a book about what drives SFU's professional development program (PDP), a one-year teacher certification program.

Faculty associates are seasoned public school teachers hired to mentor teachers-in-training.

June Beynon, associate professor of education, Janice Grout a former PDP faculty associate and teacher in the Surrey school district and Marv Wideen, SFU education professor emeritus, authored the book.

Published by Pacific Educational Press, From Teacher to Teacher Educator is the book of the month at the SFU bookstore.

“The book was the culmination of research into why faculty associates have always praised SFU's 40-year-old PDP and why students line up to get into it,” says Wideen.

About 700 students enter SFU's PDP annually. Numerous candid accounts from PDP participants guide readers through the authors' analysis of what makes SFU's PDP unique and the most successful of its kind in Canada.

The book quotes one former faculty associate as saying: “It (SFU's PDP) was a roller-coaster ride. The ups are so high and the downs are so low, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I would love to do it again because you learn so much about life and people and education.”

Unlike other teacher education programs in Canada, which do not always hire faculty associates, SFU's has an equal complement of faculty and faculty associates, who work in collaborative teams teaching academic courses. Faculty associates, who change every two years, supervise a semester of practical work.

“We discovered that faculty associates learn as much as teachers-in-training and that their learning experience is particularly intense because it is driven by community rather than individual learning,” says Wideen. Adds Grout, “Learning becomes a social process. Faculty, faculty associates and student teachers experience deeper learning when they debate and sort out differing ideas.”

Grout was a PDP coordinator - a former faculty associate who acts as liaison between faculty, faculty associates and student teachers.

Beynon notes that the book could benefit educators in any field, not just education.

“Through faculty associate accounts and analysis we demonstrate how promoting debate rather than conformity leads to deeper learning, if the parties involved are given the time to work out their differences.”

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