Far from Normal

Far from Normal McGill University

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McGill Reporter
October 11, 2007 - Volume 40 Number 04
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Far from Normal

Whoever came up with the slogan for the Faculty of Education's upcoming anniversary celebration, 150 Years from Normal, surely knew that it would elicit a few furrowed brows, particularly among those who haven't heard of the faculty's original designation: The McGill Normal School. Given the faculty's radical evolution since its beginnings 150 years ago, one could guess at another meaning - that teacher education at McGill has indeed been transformed into something well beyond the "norm".

The McGill Normal School, first established to provide elementary school teacher training to local Protestants, opened its doors on Belmont Street in downtown Montreal in March 1857. Its first cohort comprised 35 women and five men who, as admission prerequisites, had to be at least 26 years old and produce certificates of good moral character from their clergyman. Those 40 could never have imagined the ways in which the school would evolve and how radically the study of education would broaden in scope over the next century.

While the faculty has maintained its traditional role as a training ground for generations of teachers, over the years it has grown to include the departments of integrated studies in education, educational and counselling psychology, kinesiology and physical education, and information studies. "We're continuing to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century classroom, but we have become more proactive in our approach to the study of education," said Interim Dean of Education Jamshid Beheshti. "Our faculty has developed a strong and ambitious research agenda that is quickly driving our programs to national and international reputations," explained Prof. Beheshti. Today's faculty and students explore the worlds of adolescent self-injury, bioinformatics, indigenous studies, new media pedagogies or cognitive neuroscience to name just a few.

It's this transformation and growth that will be commemorated and celebrated on October 20 at the Faculty of Education's open house exhibition, "150 Years from Normal: Education; Past, Present and Future." The "History of Education at McGill " exhibit will fill the lobby of the Education Building with pictures, historical facts and artifacts dating back to when the McGill Normal School was inaugurated. Moving into the present, the "Gateway to the 21st Century" exhibit will display the latest developments in education research as presented by 18 professors. Graduate students and undergrads will be manning the third installation, "Education in a New Era," as they present their vision of what the future holds for education.

October 20, from 2:00-4:00 p.m., 1st Floor lobby of the Faculty of Education at 3700 McTavish St. (above Dr Penfield).

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