Doctor of Education Graduate John Botting

John graduated with his EdD in Learning Sciences in 2014.


John's parents were in the Canadian Air Forces, and he was born near a now-defunct Canadian military base in Germany. He grew up in Ottawa, Ontario and has lived in several Canadian cities, including Calgary, Alberta. John currently works as a deputy principal, transforming public school education in Japan.

What first got you interested in a career in education?

My interest in education was happenstance. After completing my bachelor's degree in biology, I was a little burnt out academically. I went to South Korea to teach English. I had heard about people doing this, and I wanted to see the world firsthand. Initially, I wasn't good at teaching, so I started to teach myself by buying books on the topic. This led to my doing a Master's of Applied Linguistics.


What made you want to study at the Werklund School of Education?

I was working as an instructor in the English for Academic Purposes program at the Werklund School of Education (which at that time was just the faculty of education). It didn't take long to realize that in a university environment a doctorate was required to access all of the good jobs. I chose educational technology (Learning Sciences) because I thought it had the broadest career applicability, which has proven to be true for me.


What was your favourite part about Werklund? What is your most memorable Werklund experience?

I really liked my supervisors, Drs. Michele Jacobsen and Sharon Friesen. They were immeasurably kind, knowledgeable and facilitating. They made doing the hard work of a doctoral degree pleasurable.


Who is someone who had an important influence on your experience at Werklund? Tell us about their impact. 

One of the first people that I encountered on my doctoral path was Dr. Bruce Clark, former dean of the faculty of education (now called the Werklund School of Education). He was smart, encouraging and interesting. He helped me to build my career. I think it is important for leaders to be like that.


What is the most important lesson you learned during your time with Werklund? 

Perseverance. Doing graduate work is not easy, especially if it is the kind of program where you are still working full-time and at a distance. The way I looked at it, the time was going to pass anyway. The question was whether or not I would have a higher degree at the end of that time. By persevering, I could accomplish that, and it has made all the difference. 


What did you go on to do after you completed your degree?

Currently, as a deputy principal, I am the highest ranking foreigner in public school education in Japan. I play a key role in a public school that is meant to be the tip of the spear for transforming public school education in Japan. I routinely work with boards of education in Japan to provide large scale teacher training on 21st century teaching and learning practices, and I often 'train-the-trainers'. Having the credential of a doctorate has immediately allowed me to be included in important education conversations with government stakeholders. The knowledge of the Learning Sciences that I gained from my doctoral studies and research has allowed me to make important contributions in transforming the educational landscape in Japan.


What advice would you give to those about to begin their journey with Werklund?

It's good to speak widely with the experts at the Werklund School of Education and foster long-term relationships with them. Almost ten years later, I continue to collaborate with the Werklund School of Education on several cross-border partnerships.

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