Making history

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In 1966, during the first intake of 35 students into the Professional Development Program (PDP) at Simon Fraser University, the only other teacher education program, a very traditional model, was at UBC.

Jack Paterson

The new plan for the PDP was not only innovative, but it was revolutionary. The notion that the PDP was going to put students into classrooms, prior to having any previous coursework in education, was suspect. Accustomed as they were to the UBC model, principals and higher-level administrators throughout the province dug in their heels: they would NOT entertain the notion of putting students into their schools without prior preparation.

John Ellis, the Head of Professional Programs whose primary job it was to implement the innovative program designed by then Dean, Archie MacKinnon, hired Jack Paterson to travel the province and convince school districts to accept SFU students. Jack, who had been a public relations officer for the Canadian Air Force in his previous life, got into his car with a bottle of rye and a bottle of Scotch whiskey in the trunk.

Having made his way into the offices of the superintendent of schools, with his bottles in his briefcase, he sat across from the desk and was told, blankly, that no SFU student would be accepted as a student teacher without prior preparation. 

Jack took out his bottles and put them on the desk and said, “Let’s talk about it.”

And the rest is history.

Selma Wassermann
Professor Emerita

Read all the stories from the 1960s