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An evaluation of the training programs for commerce teachers at the University of British Columbia of Education Heywood, Robert Henry

Abstract

The training programme for Commerce teachers in British Columbia has been developing slowly since 1917. The latest, and in many ways the most promising, product of this development is the programme now offered at the College of Education: a five-year degree programme similar to that offered all prospective secondary school teachers. This study attempts to answer two questions about the latest training plan: (1) Should Commerce teachers be trained in the same general pattern as teachers of other subjects? (2) Does the College of Education programme allow for the special needs of Commerce teachers? The answer to the first question is sought in the role that Commerce courses play in our secondary schools and in the aims of the Commerce programme. Examination of typical pupil programmes and analysis of enrolments in Commerce courses indicate a wide dependence on Commerce subjects in our secondary schools. The vocational possibilities in Commerce courses may attract many pupils who have a narrow and a short-sighted view of their own educational needs. The Commerce teacher, in this situation, has the opportunity to exert more influence over these pupils than has any other teacher: his role calls for someone who is more than a mere technician. The special needs of Commerce teachers are indicated by the demands of the courses he is expected to teach and by the liaison he should maintain with business. These needs are compared with the competence afforded through courses given at the College of Education. The courses provided by the College show an awareness of student needs, but the variety and extent of the Commerce field precludes the likelihood of complete coverage for all needs. In most academic subjects the university student builds on his high school experience: such is usually the case in English, history, geography, mathematics, science, and foreign languages. Commerce students often begin at the bottom in secretarial skills, economics, accounting, and finance. Fortunately, the College of Education has recognized the problem presented by diversity of subject matter in Commerce and provides for two majors. This provision enables students to tailor their teaching subjects to their individual abilities more effectively than they could if Commerce were indivisible as a group of teaching subjects. Detailed examination of teaching loads in the secondary schools shows that about one half of all those who teach Commerce subjects also teach other subjects or have other duties in the school. This fact is encouraging for two reasons: (1) There appears to be a degree of integration between subject areas that should do much to prevent narrow specialization. (2) The arrangement under which teachers may be partly teachers of Commerce and partly teachers of some other subject will not hamper principals in assigning workloads.

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