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UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
DR. DOUGLAS PETHERBRIDGE
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
Dr. Douglas Petherbridge
After receiving his teaching certificate in England, Douglas served in the Royal Air Force. He later came to Canada and taught in various schools and served in school administration prior to doing his doctoral studies in education at University of Alberta. In 1967, Douglas accepted a position in the Faculty of Education at the University of Lethbridge. He was involved in developing the education program, as well as teaching many of its courses. Douglas stayed at the University of Lethbridge until retiring in 1982.
Douglas discusses the philosophy of the Education program in the early years, and his experiences working with students and teachers.
The full audio interview will be made available online in late 2017. For more information please contact the University of Lethbridge Archives. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(JT: Jim Tagg, Interviewer)
DP: Anyway, back to the early days. So that first year was largely experimental. We had all kinds of ideas and we put them together and we got this notion, but the fundamental notion, ‘A’ was ... we had two, three. First of all, we were preparing classroom teachers. Secondly, they had to know something in order to teach and that meant the two years of liberal arts. And third, they should have freedom to follow interests because we figured if they are following their interests, I don’t care what it is you study, if you go far enough back, you're gonna cover a lot of territory. You know, if you’re a music major, your gonna cover a lot of history and geography once you get studying composers of music and so on, and so forth. So, this was the reason for that. Those were, I think, the governing principles and then Russ (Leskiw) said, you know told us quite bluntly, 'I hired you to do a job and I expect you to do it.' That’s all, and so, no requirements.
The other principle in philosophy was that we should serve the community which meant the teachers here because we were in a stage where the government was talking about requiring four years instead of just two to get a certificate and all those with two years started thinking about taking courses to get working towards this. And that was a pretty interesting time because we had people there who had been teaching 20 years or more and then started picking up courses which is why we used to travel around to Cardston and Taber, Pincher Creek. Oh, all over the place, Crowsnest Pass …
JT: Yeah, did you like those …
DP: I did a few, I did a few. But then, yeah, and I did. I did enjoy working with teachers, I always enjoyed working with the teachers. My whole career actually I found the more mature the students, the easier it was for me they were to work with them. I don’t know what my kids would respond to this, but I always thought that I could manage with my own kids to be reasonably friendly, and parental as well, at the same time. But as I moved along, I found it was much easier to work with high school students, than it was with the elementary schools, or junior high, for that matter … junior high was tough, always. But then, I was miserable when I was in the junior high, too. I was hard to get along with. So you know, so that was it, it was great. I really enjoyed it.
It was a happy state, at least I found it the first years especially were really splendiferous to me. I enjoyed that more than any job that I had before. Not that I hadn’t enjoyed my other jobs but this one was really special. I liked working with the students, especially in my subject. By the time they got to me, with, almost without exception they really wanted to be teachers. Also by then most of them were independent minded and we could discuss in class.