You are likely familiar with the Hippocratic Oath through which graduates from medical school promise to practice with the best of their abilities.
Many Canadians are at least passingly familiar with the Iron Ring Ceremony where unique pinky rings are granted to engineers upon completion of their formal education. As part of the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer the ring is a symbol that the graduate is obliged to act with the upmost professionalism.
If teaching is such an important vocation, why does no such rite of passage accompany graduation from a faculty of education?
What if instead of taking an oath, or participating in a ceremony, educators upon graduation had the opportunity to participate in a national symposium created just for them? Such an event would allow teachers to demonstrate their commitment to lifelong learning, and would model the reality that one's education should continue beyond the classroom.
Recognizing the need for the teaching profession to to adapt to the realities of the 21st century, imagine an event where new teachers could be taught simultaneously by the brightest minds from across a nation or around the world. Current technology would allow such an event to be carried out at relatively low cost, provided schools were interested in participating.
In order to demonstrate the potential for such rite of passage, I'd like to invite my Canadian colleagues to consider hosting such an event in the 2009-2010 school year. By teaming with other pan-Canadian groups like The Learning Partnership, a group of K-12 and university educators might motivate agents-of-change to share their messages with graduates.
At faculties of education, auditoriums could provide the venue for both 'in-person' presentations and live webcasts where passionate educators from elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions would share their stories of personal/professional growth.
Geared towards new teachers, a simul-conference could easily be scaled to provide open access beyond faculties of education. Guest speakers could be recorded to accommodate asynchronous participation by current classroom teachers while back-channel discussions could forge connections between venues.
Such an event might instill in new and experienced teachers an understanding of a number of key messages about the profession:
1] Learning is a lifelong endeavor;
2] Embrace change;
3] Reach through the walls of your classroom;
4] Know that you can be an agent of change.
The scale upon which change is needed in education, is monumental. Why not introduce to the profession a rite of passage that addresses this need for change; and why not do so on a large scale? Such an event has the potential to inspire novice and experienced educators alike, to model lifelong learning. There are few more important characteristics to nurture in classroom teachers.
Photo Credit" M00by; Marie-Chantale Turgeon