Yes, apparently it has come to this. The brilliant folks in the British Columbia Ministry of Education have contracted with a 19 year old to figure out how to transform teaching and teacher education, according to a story in today’s Vancouver Sun. (This story appeared on September 23, not April 1.)
Anjali Vyas, former DJ and graduate of Stelly’s Secondary on Vancouver Island, was contracted by the BC Ministry of Eduction to research teacher education practices in Finland for six months last year.
According to the Sun, Vyas met Rick Davis, “superintendent of achievement” with BC’s Ministry of Education at a wedding and “instantly hit it off.”
Davis was so impressed by the young DJ’s passion for education, he decided to put the future of teaching and teacher education in the province in her hands. After six months in Finland, Vyas has apparently delivered a “report analyzing several aspects of the teacher training system, including practicums, the structure, content and length of teacher-education programs and the admissions process, with a view to incorporating positive aspects of the Finnish system into BC’s teacher-training programs.”
Davis likes her report so much he has given Vyas, who is now first year student in at UBC in international economics, an additional contract “to continue that work and to make the general public and the nine deans of education in BC aware of what she has learned.”
Don’t get me wrong, while I’ve not read Vyas report, she seems like a very bright and motivated young woman and am sure that she and many other people who spent 13 years as public school students have perspectives on teacher education and teaching that are worthwhile. But, why would the BC Ministry of Education send a 19 year old high school grad to Finland to conduct research on a topic that many BC educators, teacher educators, and researchers are fully informed about?
Rick Davis could have used Google Scholar to locate 66,400 results on “Finnish teacher education.” And spent a little time reading.
Or perhaps he could have tapped some of the experienced teachers in the province to go over to Finland. Or push come to shove maybe he could have asked some of the researchers at any of BC’s several Faculties of Education to weigh in. Does he know that SFU has an Institute for Studies in Teacher Education that partners with University of Tampere, in Finland? Is he aware of any of several projects funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council to study education in Finland?
Public education is a serious endeavour. There are thousands of professional educators working in classrooms and schools across BC who dedicated their professional lives to making public schools work for students, families, and communities across the province. And, there are hundreds of skilled and knowledgeable instructors and researchers working in BC’s teacher education institutions who are similarly dedicated and informed.
Does Rick Davis and the BC Ministry of Education really believe a good-hearted, bright, but completely naive and inexperienced 19 year old high school grad can conduct research that provides insights into the transformation of teacher education in the province?
If this is indicative of the approach government is using to construct the BC Education Plan, there’s little hope for the future of BC schools.