Updated: Dec 11, 2020
A few years back while I was still researching Teacher Education programs, I found it very difficult to come across student opinions or insight on the MA CSE program itself. While the Master of Teaching program seemed to have its fair share of student ambassadors and is widely known, the Child Study and Education program did not seem to receive the same amount of love. And so, I decided to compare the well-known MT program with the MA CSE.
Obviously, let's recognize the elephant in the room. This post is written by a MA CSE student. So, the bias towards the MA CSE will be pretty evident :)
1. MORE DIVERSE PLACEMENTS
MT students have two placements per year, both for a four-week block at a time. During their placements, the MT students are placed at schools from Mondays-Fridays, for the entire day. While there is full immersion into the teaching and school environment, some MT students have noted a disconnect between what's taught in teacher ed courses and what goes on in practicums.
MACSE students have 3 practicum placements in their first year, all that are eight-week blocks at a time. They are at schools in the mornings from Mondays-Thursdays, with teacher education classes in the afternoons and on Fridays. The downside to this schedule is a more complicated commute, and the need to balance both schoolwork and practicum at the same time. However, this structure creates a space for MA CSE students to share their practicum experiences in class, as it stimulates live discussions that are based on real experiences. It is also amazing to trace our practicum experiences with our classmates and encourage each other on.
Also, MACSE students have a 12-week long internship in their second year. During this time, they will be placed in a school for full days on Mondays and Tuesdays, and half days on Wednesdays-Fridays. This semester gives MACSE students the opportunity to be actively engaged in school communities, and we are often invited to help our associate teacher set up their classroom before school even starts! (What a learning experience!)
MT students also are not required to complete a placement in the Kindergarten division. However, for the MACSE program, it is mandatory to complete a practicum placement in Kindergarten, Primary (Grades 1-3), and Junior (Grades 4-6) during Year 1. Personally, I believe this variety really helps prepare us for the teaching field -especially since supply teaching seems to be the norm upon graduation.
-smaller community-attentiveness, known
2. A SMALL COMMUNITY WITHIN A LARGE COMMUNITY
If I were to use metaphors to explain, I would say that the MT program is like a coral reef while the MACSE is simply just one coral. THe MT program has many students and many cohorts which are then divided into teaching streams and specializations. There is a lot going on, but not every inhabitant will necessarily interact with one another. However, the MACSE, being just one coral, is a much smaller community. Our building is our own little hub away from the hustle and bustle of OISE, and we are able to have a close relationship to our peers, our professors, as well as our program faculty.
Also, being a part of the coral means that you are still very much plugged into the greater community. Just like how all corals and coral reefs are fundamental to the ocean's biodiversity, both the MACSE and the MT programs are an important makeup of UofT's academia. Plus, OISE is just a 10 minute walk away from the MACSE building, and we still have all the resources and networking opportunities that UofT offers.
3. NO MAJOR RESEARCH PAPER
The MACSE program does not have a major research paper component built into the program like the one in MT. I have to say, I'm not somebody that is against writing research papers. Rather, I wrote a research paper in my undergrad for my history degree. However, I decided that I did not want to focus so much of my time and energy into one specific topic or question (which is essentially what a research paper entails). Rather, I wanted to spend my teacher education experience exploring as many pedagogies and practices as possible.
Make no mistake, as the MACSE is still a graduate level program within UofT, there are still elements of research and a certain standard of academia that comes with this program. In fact, I still have courses in which I turn in 20-30 pages for a final assignment. But I do want to emphasize that the major research paper (MTRP), which is a crucial component of the MT program, does not exist in the MACSE program.
And with those reasons, I ultimately made my decision to enter the MACSE. It's been a long first year, but I definitely have no regrets :)