In her keynote address to the McDowell Foundation’s 25th anniversary gala, Jennifer Tupper, dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina, told those in attendance that the work of the McDowell Foundation, and its support for teacher inquiry and research, is more important than ever.
Tupper expressed her grave concerns for PreK-12 education in Saskatchewan and elsewhere, citing political, social and economic times that leave us with much uncertainty when it comes to the current educational landscape in the province.
“There is less government support for publicly funded education, less respect and support for the important work of teachers, and increasingly complex and diverse classroom realities that teachers must negotiate in good ways every day with fewer resources at their disposal,” Tupper suggested.
While pledging her deep respect for “each one of you in this room for the contributions you are making to the lives of children and youth in the province,” Tupper drew on her personal experience as a McDowell researcher.
“Since 1991 when it was formed, the McDowell Foundation has supported an amazing legacy of teacher-led research with real, immediate and lasting educational effects by funding almost 300 projects.”
According to Tupper, “if we believe, as educators, that our role is to teach for a better world, then the McDowell Foundation is an important avenue of support for this work which can be, as you all know because you live it, very challenging, emotional, frustrating, but that can also be tremendously rewarding and indeed transformational.”
As an academic herself, Tupper shared how research projects at universities can be a painstakingly slow and circuitous process while clinging to the hope that others will ultimately read the published articles at the culmination of the research.
“Sometimes, the time between finishing our research and publishing is up to five years. Sometimes it is years before we have evidence that our research has been taken up by other academics in other universities around the world,” Tupper shared.
Against that backdrop Tupper said it was her aim to highlight the real and immediate value of the teacher-led research funded by the McDowell Foundation.
“This organization, which is relatively unique in Canada, is one that we must all value, support, and continue to advocate for now and in the future, and especially because these are such precarious times.
“The McDowell Foundation is about research that has an impact. Your commitment to transforming Saskatchewan classrooms and teaching for a better world is where hope resides in this post-truth and precarious world we find ourselves in. Together we are stronger.”