Foundation Award Recipients
1998 McDowell Foundation Award for Contributions to Educational
McBeath began his career as an educator in 1949 as a teacher on
a remote Indian reserve in northern Manitoba. In the years that
followed, he gradually expanded his experience of elementary and
secondary education as a teacher, vice-principal, and principal
in Quill Lake and as school superintendent in the Blaine Lake School
Unit. In 1962, after one year as principal and teacher at Sir John
Franklin School in the Northwest Territories, he became an Executive
Assistant with the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation, working primarily
in the area of professional development. Nine years later, he moved
on to become a Professor of Education and Coordinator of Professional
Development and Field Experiences at the University of Regina. He
also served as acting head of the Saskatchewan Indian Federated
College's education department, and he has taught in the Northern
and Indian Teacher Education Programs.
To the many positions
Art filled so capably within education, he brought a lifelong interest in educational
research. In keeping with the norms of his day, he pursued this interest largely
through university studies, earning a B.A. from Queens University in 1950, a B.Ed.
from the University of Saskatchewan in 1952, a M.Ed. from the University of Alberta
in 1959, and a doctorate in administration and curriculum from the University
of Illinois in 1967. However, Art also developed early in his career a vision
of teacher-centred educational research that did not rest with universities or
government departments. In a letter to the STF in 1959, he wrote:
am quite sure that the main road for [teachers' professional organizations] should
be in the line of getting teachers and principals to take and have more responsibility
for educational decisions that are made by boards, administrators, departments
and training colleges....It is going to have to mean that teachers will and should
share to a greater extent in policies that are made at all levels. Both within
their school and within their unit and the province. Thus the big job for the
Federation is to prepare teachers to do this kind of thing. They have to...become
known, and known as willing to give professional advice. Teachers will have to
be up to date on results of research as it will be impossible for an administrator
to know it all and boards are going to be left back in the dark ages.
years later he was still refining this idea when he completed a doctoral thesis
based on a survey of the perceptions of the levels of decision-making in educational
programs in the elementary and secondary schools of Saskatchewan.
attempted to implement his vision of teacher-centred research in numerous ways.
As an STF Executive Assistant, he spearheaded the publication of A Teacher's Guide
to Classroom Research, and he helped to organize a provincial conference on classroom
research in 1963. Many Saskatchewan schools received a visit from Art McBeath
encouraging them to develop and implement their own research projects. Art also
advocated and became an important contributor to a research council composed of
representatives from Saskatchewan's educational organizations. Under the auspices
of this council, a Saskatchewan Educational Research Association was formed that
held several provincial research conferences in the 1970's before it faded away.
Later, as a university professor, Art continually sought ways to integrate theory
and practice in teacher education. His understanding of the fundamental principles
and practices of teaching led him to articulate to his students and colleagues
a "practical theory-based approach to planning and instruction" that
blended knowledge gained from both teaching and research.
distinguished educator like Art McBeath has won many awards in the course of a
long career. He has received the Kellogg Fellowship Award in Studies in Administration;
he has been elected as president of the Canadian College of Teachers; he holds
an Honorary Life Membership in the STF; he was the first educator to be honoured
at an Excellence in Education dinner sponsored by the University of Regina Faculty
of Education; and his name has been given to the innovative Art McBeath Faculty
Associate program at the University of Regina. However, one contribution for which
he has not received the recognition he richly deserves is his role in shaping
the climate for teacher-centred research in Saskatchewan and preparing the ground
for the eventual establishment of the McDowell Foundation. It is to correct this
omission and celebrate his work as a pioneer and builder in the field of educational
research that the first McDowell Foundation Award has been presented to Art McBeath.