We were all braced for big changes to happen in the world of education, but no one expected that on November 26, it would be announced that the Queen’s-Trent Concurrent Education Program would no longer be offered. As a student enrolled in my third-year of the program, and as someone concerned about education and the future of Ontario teaching qualifications, receiving this news was upsetting to say the least.
After speaking with Queen’s University professors, my fellow Con. Ed. classmates, and Trent peers, I became aware of the overwhelming amount of sadness, confusion, and frustration surrounding the decision to end the Queen’s-Trent program.
I would like to use this article as an opportunity to explain some of the effects this decision will have on the Trent and teaching community, and further to highlight why this decision concerns me.
The Queen’s-Trent Concurrent Education program is unique in that it allows two universities to be experienced at once. Unlike other education programs, students admitted into this program are required to take Queen’s University courses during their undergrad in addition to their Trent University major classes.
In Queen’s education courses, students learn tried and true information from knowledgeable professors, such as how to develop and build a portfolio. We are also asked to attend annual education conferences and workshops, as well as to discuss and submit papers on key teaching ideas in preparation for our weekly lectures.
While all Bachelor of Education graduates must possess a B.Ed in order to enter the classroom, in a concurrent education program, students take six classes instead of five each year. For myself, this additional time, which is devoted to learning about how to make myself the best teacher possible, has been a valuable addition to my undergrad studies and has helped me to begin learning about teaching in a pedagogical sense early on.
Following the phasing out of the Queen’s-Trent program over the next five years, future teaching candidates will no longer have the option of becoming qualified through such a unique program that is supported by not one, but two excellent universities.
In addition, the suspension of the Queen’s-Trent pathway will result in a loss of student involvement within the local teaching community.
During three years of the Concurrent Education program, students are expected to spend several weeks of professional placement or practicum with a host teacher. Many students request to complete this observation and teaching requirement at local schools within Peterborough. Queen’s-Trent students are given the opportunity to spend valuable time in both elementary and high school classrooms early on in their teaching candidate career.
As a result, students are exposed to different levels immediately, long before they are asked to decide which age group is best suited for their abilities and interests (through such placements, I myself discovered in second year that teaching at the intermediate/senior level was not the best fit for me).
Furthermore, Con. Ed. teaching candidates are able to gain real world experience interacting with professionals and students, designing lesson plans, and learning from different teaching styles.
However, with the discontinuation of the program, the chance to develop teaching relationships and connections between local Peterborough schools and the university will be affected as there will no longer be students to participate in placements with host teachers.
This loss of student body is also expected to affect Trent directly. Trent University is looking to expand, but with the slash of the Queen’s-Trent program, some questions have been raised regarding the adverse effect this could have on enrollment. Unfortunately, the decision has been made to phase out the program. I believe that this will be a huge loss for the next generation of teachers.
While there are many other excellent programs future students interested in teaching as a career may enter into, it saddens me to know that Con-Ed will no longer be an available choice when it comes time to make that decision.