History of Education in Saskatoon

The College of Education, a Thumbnail Sketch

In 1927, the University of Saskatchewan established the College of Education to prepare graduates from other colleges to become high school teachers. For the next two decades (decades marked by worldwide economic depression and war), a small two- or three-member faculty functioned with little change.

The end of the Second World War brought major changes to the province. Weary of economic hardship, Saskatchewan elected a new government. This government consolidated the provinces’ 4,000 school districts, and these new larger units developed a province-wide system of secondary schools. By the late 1950s, the “baby boomers” were staying in school longer, increasing the need for more secondary teachers, forcing the College to expand.

Changes were also taking place in elementary education. No longer isolated in one-room rural schools, teachers and the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation began insisting on improvements in elementary teacher education. Although the government re-named the old normal schools in the early 1950s, the Teachers Colleges were unable to make many changes in the face of the demand for teachers to provide basic schooling for the growing population. In an attempt to improve matters, in 1964 the government gave the College of Education responsibility for all teacher education in the province.

For the next six years, the College operated a secondary program at the university and an elementary program in the old Saskatoon Normal School on Idylwyld Drive. In 1970, however, both of these programs were consolidated in a new College of Education building on campus. The subsequent location of the music department within the building facilitated the establishment of a successful Bachelor of Music in Music Education program.

Throughout the next decade, the College continued to grow. When the government finally required all elementary program students to complete a degree before qualifying to teach, hundreds of teachers college graduates returned to the campus to upgrade their certificates. In the 1970s, the College approved new programs designed to prepare First Nations and Metis students to become teachers. In addition, departments in the College began to offer a wide array of graduate programs. As a result, many more students enrolled in the College and many new faculty members were hired

By the mid-1980s, societal factors resulted in diminished demand for teachers. Quotas were cut, retiring faculty members were not replaced, and course offerings were reduced. In the face of these changes, the College rebounded with a range of new activities in the 1990s. The founding of the Saskatchewan Educational Leadership Unit allowed the College to have an impact on the operation of schools across the province. Conferences such as the Rural Education Conference and the Breaking the Silence Conference attracted hundreds of delegates from across the country every year. Initiatives such as international study tours, a project to improve English language skills of Korean teachers, and an educational administration graduate program in Tianjin have taken the College beyond the boundaries of Canada. These changes have continued in the present decade. For example, the newly established Aboriginal Education Research Centre provides an opportunity to transform Aboriginal education in Canada and beyond. While continuing to educate teachers, the College is continuing to expand its role to serve the schools of Saskatchewan, Canada, and the world.

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