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Enrolment in teacher education remains up, as two sides discuss teachers dispute

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Could it mean a step out of the impasse?

Two weeks after mediator Vince Ready left talks with the teachers’ union and the government, he’s in discussions with the two sides again. They’re trying to get close enough to start mediation, after being at a stalemate for about the last two weeks.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender says Ready has been involved all the way along, but at the end of August, Ready said the sides were too far apart.

As the dispute continues, the director of teacher education at UBC says she and others with the school are watching the situation with concern, but adds they have been pleasantly surprised by enrolment numbers.

Dr. Wendy Carr says those numbers are up this year over last. She attributes that to hope and optimism for the future.

“The same reasons that many of us entered our teaching careers many, many years ago are still operative: the greater good, wanting to make a difference, wanting to change, et cetera. Those are still very much the ideals of the teacher candidates in the program right now,” says Carr.

“They are opting for… the glass half full,” she adds. “They are looking at this as still a very honourable profession, one in which they can make a difference in the world, and one in which they wish to engage.”

We asked Carr whether students have expressed concerns about the profession in the long term or thoughts about re-thinking their career choice.

“It’s not new terrain,” she responds. “Right or wrong, this is part of the labour situation in BC education, and has been for some time. These are post-baccalaureate students, so they’re coming here with a degree. They’re adults; they have been in the world and they see what’s going on. So, I think for the most part, they’re not naive as to what happens.”

Carr says labour relations issues are not formally taught in the programs but the regulation board, the BC Teachers’ Federation, and the Ministry of Education are all discussed.

“And we invite all of these groups to speak to our students at different times in the year. Discussions therein can pertain to anything relating to the teaching profession. Certainly, we have inquiry seminars that occur through the year, and typically the questions are more related to pedagogy, the children that they’ll be teaching, that sort of thing. But their questions are their questions and they’re free to ask whatever they wish.”

Carr adds despite the labour turmoil, she’s still optimistic about the future of education.