De­bat­ing the di­rec­tion for Coady In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute

Di­rec­tor of ed­u­ca­tion be­lieves is­sues will be sorted out

The Casket - - Front Page - RICHARD MACKEN­ZIE richard­mac@the­cas­

Changes at the Coady In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute have been on the minds of many, as re­ports of ten­sion and dis­sention at the in­sti­tute, a place of pride for so many, have been writ­ten about and well pub­li­cized.

An­thony Scog­gins, di­rec­tor of ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams at the Coady, said while there are al­ways small changes, from year-to-year, it’s more dras­tic ones, which could come down the road, which are stir­ring fierce de­bate amongst Coady fac­ulty, staff and fol­low­ers.

“There are al­ways mi­nor changes, I would say,” Scog­gins said, speak­ing to the Cas­ket Sept. 26. “I think the con­ver­sa­tion is more around how do peo­ple see changes com­ing down the pipeline.

“So, if you ask me if there were changes from this year to last year, yes, there were some mi­nor ones. Fa­cil­i­ta­tors change, we change se­quenc­ing, a lit­tle bit of tweak­ing here and there, but, sub­stan­tially, I would say not yet … the is­sue is re­ally look­ing for­ward.”

Scog­gins, who has a long his­tory with the in­sti­tu­tion, start­ing as a stu­dent in 1979, re­turned only re­cently to as­sume his cur­rent po­si­tion. He talked about tak­ing the Diploma in De­vel­op­ment Lead­er­ship pro­gram when first ar­riv­ing at the in­sti­tu­tion and how that sig­na­ture pro­gram has evolved over the years. He noted how it re­sem­bled a typ­i­cal uni-

ver­sity pro­gram at one time, with a few classes a day, spread over six months.

“Diploma is a lit­tle shorter now; it’s down to five months,” he said. “The stu­dents are in the class­room from 8:30 a.m. on the day they ar­rive un­til 5:30 p.m., the day be­fore they leave.

“They have mod­u­lar­ized the course; rather than hav­ing a co­op­er­a­tive [course] a few times a week for the six months, you get two weeks on co­op­er­a­tive. And then you go on to a course on gen­der, and then some­thing else,” Scog­gins said, us­ing those top­ics as an ex­am­ple of a course sched­ule.

“The na­ture of the ed­u­ca­tional process has changed be­cause it’s a lot more in­tense, a lot more class­room time; some peo­ple are great be­liev­ers in that, some are great crit­ics of it.”

He talked more about the de­bate.

“Ev­ery­one has re­ally strong opin­ions around this. For some it’s what’s the best ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence for the stu­dent, that cri­te­ria. But other peo­ple say, ac­tu­ally, we have a whole lot of other obli­ga­tions here. One of the rea­sons we went to this mod­u­lar­ized [ap­proach] was so we could ac­tu­ally bring in peo­ple who would only come for one or two cour­ses. If you only wanted to learn about co-ops in the olden days, you still had to be here for six months. Now, if the model is only two weeks, you can get peo­ple com­ing in and just do that, then they leave.

“There is that ad­van­tage there. They don’t get the diploma but they get that lit­tle slice they want.”

Scog­gins said the sched­ule could be an ad­van­tage for fa­cil­i­ta­tors too.

“Some peo­ple think that’s the great­est thing since slice bread, other peo­ple it’s the damna­tion of the in­sti­tu­tion; think­ing we’re throw­ing too much stuff at them,” he said. “So there is a whole ped­a­gog­i­cal; what’s best for the stu­dents, what’s best for the in­sti­tute, and how do we strike the bal­ance.”

He noted an­other layer is the car­bon foot­print of peo­ple fly­ing from lo­cales around the word for just a two-week course and how that is part of an­other de­bate on the use of tech­nol­ogy to reach par­tic­i­pants.

“Let’s look at the scope of on­line or re­mote, dis­tant ed­u­ca­tion, with the tech­nol­ogy ex­ists now. Some peo­ple in here think, again, that’s the great­est thing since slice bread be­cause the world is our class­room now; we can reach out to any­where in the world,” he said.

“And there are oth­ers who think it’s the death to what we do be­cause the im­por­tance of what we do is in bring­ing peo­ple around the ta­ble, talk­ing face-to­face, and pro­vid­ing them with a space and an op­por­tu­nity where they are away from their work; where they can ac­tu­ally sit down here and re­flect. Do all this [class­room work], but it’s all about be­ing in a space where they can ac­tively re­flect.

“Some of my tech­nol­ogy col­leagues down the hall will say you can do that now on­line; you could have a we­bi­nar, set up mini-class­rooms on the side [with peo­ple from dif­fer­ent parts of the world].”

Scog­gins said he doesn’t think sid­ing with ei­ther po­si­tion negates any­thing con­sid­ered fun­da­men­tal to the Coady.

“The found­ing prin­ci­ples of the Antigo­nish Move­ment or the way that Moses Coady worked,” he said. “To be per­fectly hon­est with you, I think the strat­egy, the ped­a­gogy and all of this, we can sort out, we’ll fig­ure it out and it will be true to the prin­ci­ples … ef­fec­tive for the stu­dents.”

‘Trans­for­ma­tive’ is an­other con­cept spark­ing de­bate, Scog­gins noted.

“That we do trans­for­ma­tive adult ed­u­ca­tion; that we’re try­ing to trans­form, not just grow but to change, trans­form,” he said. “The de­bate be­comes; are we try­ing to trans­form the in­di­vid­u­als who come here? Or, are we giv­ing in­di­vid­u­als skills to trans­form their so­ci­eties or com­mu­ni­ties?”

That can lead into a dis­cus­sion of who should the Coady be more in­ter­ested in ac­cept­ing into the pro­gram; a per­son not nec­es­sar­ily af­fil­i­ated with any or­ga­ni­za­tion who ap­pears to have the po­ten­tial to be a great leader or one al­ready in a po­si­tion of au­thor­ity or lead­er­ship where, with a Coady ed­u­ca­tion, can make an even greater im­pact.

“And then with that, are we mainly fo­cus­ing on small or­ga­ni­za­tions? There are peo­ple here who will say it’s re­ally about the grass­roots or­ga­ni­za­tions and there will be oth­ers who say, no they’ll be flail­ing, we need to take some­one from a big­ger or­ga­ni­za­tion or even a govern­ment pro­gram or depart­ment who can make change hap­pen, who can have in­flu­ence,” he said.

“That’s a de­bate or is­sue; if we go back to the big or­ga­ni­za­tions, then are we just feed­ing the ma­chine? And other peo­ple will say, if we fo­cus on the grass­roots you’ll end up train­ing 1,000 peo­ple and maybe three or four will do some­thing sig­nif­i­cant.

And while you have given that per­son an ed­u­ca­tion and it’s all good for them, it re­ally didn’t make much of a dif­fer­ence in the world. That plays out here, the se­lec­tion and re­cruit­ment type of process.”

He re­turned to a thought on the Antigo­nish Move­ment not­ing he sees it de­fined more broadly — “that whole his­tory of com­mu­nity en­gage­ment.”

“I don’t think we’re sell­ing an ap­proach; we’re try­ing to get peo­ple to re­flect crit­i­cally on — this is what worked in a par­tic­u­lar time and place here. Why did it work? Well, let’s look at it — what did it achieve, what did it not achieve? What is the need now? Is it em­ploy­ment, en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity? Then you ap­ply the tools and knowl­edge to those needs.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.