Realities and Challenges of Educational Reform in the Province of Québec: Exploratory Research on Teaching Science and Technology

By Potvin, Patrice; Dionne, Eric | McGill Journal of Education (Online), Fall 2007 | Go to article overview

Realities and Challenges of Educational Reform in the Province of Québec: Exploratory Research on Teaching Science and Technology


Potvin, Patrice, Dionne, Eric, McGill Journal of Education (Online)


ABSTRACT. Exploratory and descriptive research was conducted in a secondary school to reveal the realities and difficulties of the implementation process that awaits teachers under Québec's Educational Reform. A team of teachers agreed to be observed while simulating implementation one year ahead of other schools. Results underscore the importance of in-service training, of an implementation plan, and of the level of professionalism. Analysis tends to indicate that the Québec implementation experience is not uncommon.

RÉALITÉS ET DÉFIS DE LA RÉFORME SCOLAIRE QUÉBÉCOISE : UNE ÉTUDE EXPLORATOIRE DE L'ENSEIGNEMENT DE LA SCIENCE ET DE LA TECHNOLOGIE

RÉSUMÉ. Une recherche exploratoire et descriptive qui a été menée dans une école secondaire illustre les réalités et les difficultés relatives au processus d'implantation chez les enseignants qui vivent la réforme scolaire québécoise. Une équipe d'enseignants a consenti à faire l'objet d'observations alors qu'ils tentaient une implantation anticipée du programme de science et technologie (premier cycle) au secondaire, une année avant l'implantation officielle. Les résultats obtenus réaffirment l'importance de la formation continue, de l'existence d'un plan l'implantation et de la professionnalisation enseignante. L'analyse tend également à montrer que l'expérience d'implantation québécoise n'est pas fondamentalement différente de celle qui a été conduite ailleurs.

We cannot lose sight of the fact that innovation is about abandoning practices and routines, and that means going without tried and true signposts. Thus, to innovate is to accept both professional and personal risks.

(Finkelsztein & Ducros) (free translation)

ISSUES

Social and political context

In the wake of a worldwide educational overhaul, and other research and publication initiatives by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Québec's education system is undergoing substantial reform (hereinafter, the Reform). Begun almost 15 years ago, with hearings held by the Commission for the Estates-General on Education and the filing of their final report entitled The State of Education in Québec (États généraux sur l'Éducation) (Gouvernement du Québec, 1996), the underlying philosophy of the approach started to become tangible in the Rapport Inchauspé (Inchauspé Report) (Gouvernement du Québec, 1997) and the Énoncé de politique (Ministerial Plan of Action for the Reform of the Education System) (Gouvernement du Québec, 1997). It also materialized through numerous other reports issued by the Ministère de l'Éducation and the Conseil Supérieur de l'Éducation, culminating more recently in the new curricula (Gouvernement du Québec, 2001), which began to be introduced into elementary cycle one (first and second years of elementary school) in 2000. This implementation process, which will impact the entire elementary and secondary school system, is being phased in in stages, with completion expected by 2009-2010. Secondary school reform was originally anticipated by 2004-2005, but in the end it was delayed until 2005-2006, on the grounds that the implementation conditions were not in place. It was thought that this deferral would grant the teachers a little more time to familiarize themselves with the new programs, presented as a "year of familiarization" (Année d'appropriation). However, despite the opportunity this created to facilitate teachers' preparation and training to cope with the challenges that lie ahead, this extra year passed very much like the previous ones, meaning that teachers did not benefit from any special or new assistance. Many observers have deplored the lack of a province-wide training strategy. Although a very few training programs were set up in the more urbanized areas, they were essentially based on topdown approaches and were aimed at training multiplying agents (teachers assumed to pass on new knowledge to their colleagues). …

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