Ikhlas Gherzouli received a scholarship from Algeria’s Setif-2- University, where she is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English Language and Literature, to study in Canada. She chose to spend her time at the University of Waterloo, an arrangement facilitated by the English Department. Her visit coincided with the most snow the region has seen in forty years. –JLH
JLH: What is your program of study in Algeria?
IG: I am a Phd student, working on English Didactics. I am doing research about Curriculum Development ‘CD’ through Task-based action research. Throughout my research I will be assuming that:
-Curriculum development is an ongoing process that doesn’t end, especially given the ongoing production of new textbooks.
-National curriculum and school-based curriculum initiatives can co-exist
-Teacher involvement in CD is a key factor in the success of any educational reform.
-Teachers learn new ways of teaching best when they are involved in developing their own objectives which are congruent with their understanding of their classrooms.
-Teachers react to experience as they perceive it, not as the curriculum manager presents it, and they learn best when the curriculum context is relevant to their own experiences.
-Teachers implement changes best when they have learned how to implement change.
-Teacher involvement in CD is a major aspect of teacher expertise.
-Teacher involvement in CD is a collaborative endeavour.
-Teacher research was historically introduced within the framework of CD projects and should continue to be centrally viewed as a tool for involving teachers in CD. Task-based action research is most suited for this purpose.
JLH: Can you talk a bit about what you have been doing here?
IG: My country is a French-speaking country, we have no foreign teachers, no native speakers of English, no Algerian teachers who write in English. Therefore it is difficult to access books in English. My university purchases books from Cambridge and Oxford University Presses at least five years after their original release. So the materials we have are not current. Being at the University of Waterloo has allowed me to access resources like book reviews, dissertations and theses the MLA International Bibliography, E-journals and the Theses Canada Portal. I’ve also been able to meet many faculty, including Fraser Easton, Jay Dolmage, Julia Williams, and Randy Harris, and to attend a talk by a visiting speaker. Beyond that, I’ve met many PhD students from many parts of the world, something we do not see in Algeria.
JLH: What is the most unexpected thing you’ve encountered so far?
IG: Canada and the University of Waterloo are bigger than I expected. People are more open-minded and friendly than in the UK and US.