In defence of YNTEP
It’s been curious, seeing articles and hearing radio spots about the review of the Yukon Native Teacher Education Program but not having been part of that review process.
I have been teaching a course for YNTEP for over 10 years and could have contributed. In fact, it turns out that none of those who teach for YNTEP were contacted for their input. This gets curiouser and curiouser.
I agree with many of the conclusions that were reached. However, I’ve heard several times in the media reports that YNTEP is a program adopted from the south, since the degrees are awarded through the University of Regina.
Except for the syllabus format, I haven’t seen much coming from the university. The educators who have taught courses over the years are among the Yukon’s best and brightest in the field.
They have brought years of experience as well as a passion for teaching to the program. The administrators of the YNTEP program are brilliant and visionary. They have worked hard to incorporate First Nation values and content into the program in a way that’s inclusive, compassionate and fun.
It was mentioned in the reports that some students are below par academically. That seems to be true in academia in general these days. Future teachers need to be competent in the 3Rs, it’s true.
But what has been interesting to me over the years is to see some of my YNTEP students using what they learned in a teachers’ prep program in work outside the school system, and doing it in a way that’s creative, inclusive, compassionate and fun.
It was also mentioned that we are living in the information age, and teachers need to be up to date in terms of technology. When I did my teacher training in the early 70s, the educational technology course taught me how to use an overhead projector, how to thread film into a movie projector, and how to run a ditto machine. I have never caught up.
But as Howard Gardner, one of education’s great gurus, has written, the best of education is a search for truth, beauty and goodness. Technology may be a tool for this. But when it comes to delivering a good education, to being a role model for future teachers, to creating a program with the experts that are here in the Yukon, you can’t beat what the YNTEP program has worked hard to do.
The reviewers could have asked us. The outside story without the inside story is lacking the breadth of perspective it needs in order to be fair.