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Inventing Secondary Education

Inventing Secondary Education: The Rise of the High School in Nineteenth-Century Ontario

Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 440
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  • Book Info
    Inventing Secondary Education
    Book Description:

    Inventing Secondary Education is the first contemporary examination of the origins of the Ontario high school, and one of the very few which focuses on the development of secondary education anywhere in Canada. The authors chart the transformation of the high school from a peripheral to a central social institution. They explore the economic and social pressures which fuelled the expansion of secondary education, the political conflicts which shaped the schools, and the shifts in curriculum as new forms of knowledge disrupted traditional pedagogical values. By the late nineteenth century the high school had acquired a secure clientele by anchoring itself firmly to the educational and professional ambitions of young people and their families.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6239-4
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Illustrations
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    Like many other modern institutions, the Ontario secondary school is an invention of the second half of the nineteenth century. As its very name implies, it is one part of a more extended system of education organized into three successive stages, with the secondary and post-secondary sectors built atop the elementary or primary school. Each sector is responsible for particular age groups and particular levels of learning. The secondary school deals with teenagers already educated well beyond the rudiments of literacy. Its curriculum is tightly linked to, and is mainly a more advanced or specialized version of, the curriculum taught...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Patterns of Educational Provision in Upper Canada
    (pp. 11-37)

    Upper Canadian education was organized around a set of interlocking educational and social assumptions – assumptions about the best pedagogical practices, the uses of schooling, and the nature of social relations. None of them was invented in the colony itself. They had been imported as part of the immigrants’ cultural baggage from Britain and America, and transplanted to the new environment. But regardless of their particular origins, they were of critical importance in structuring the pattern of educational provision in Upper Canada. The colony’s educational institutions were constructed in conformity with these assumptions, which governed the relationships between different sorts of...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The Provision of School Places: The Roles of Demand and Supply
    (pp. 38-59)

    If the structure of the discretionary sector was moulded by the educational assumptions of Upper Canadians about how schooling was to be organized, its growth was determined by the interaction of the demand for education and the supply of school places. For a variety of reasons, an increasing number of individuals and families sought opportunities to obtain more advanced levels of education. At the same time, churches, private individuals, and government were all active in promoting the establishment of schools, thus making the discretionary sector more accessible to more people. Cumulatively, these activities led to a massive increase in both...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR The Failure of Voluntarism and the Transition to Public Education
    (pp. 60-79)

    The expansion of the discretionary sector in the middle decades of the nineteenth century was accompanied by a fundamental change in thesourcefor the supply of school places. In early Upper Canada the provision of superior education was mainly the work of individuals, churches, and voluntary associations. Until the 1840s at least, government played a very limited role, and non-aided superior schools were far more numerous than those that received government grants. During the two decades around mid-century, however, the initiative began to shift to the state. Increasingly after 1850 it would be government rather than other agencies that...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE The Development of the Grammar Schools, 1807–66
    (pp. 80-114)

    Until the 1840s, there were only a few grammar schools in Upper Canada, and compared to the voluntary sector, they played a modest role in providing superior education. In the two decades around mid-century, however, as people in small communities scrambled for a share of the government grant, the number of grammar schools multiplied relentlessly, rising from a handful in 1840 to nearly a hundred by the early 1860s. As their numbers grew, they increasingly became an indispensable part of the colony’s system of education. But expansion took place without firm central direction, and thus the development of the grammar...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Teachers, Pupils, and Pedagogy: Inside the World of the Grammar School, 1855–70
    (pp. 115-149)

    While the preceding chapter offers an account of the development of the Upper Canadian grammar school in the decades before Confederation, it tells us very little about the character of the schools themselves. What did the schools actually look like? Who were the teachers? How was instruction organized? What sorts of young people attended the schools? How long did they stay and what did they study? The failure to penetrate the “black box” of the school is one of the more pointed criticisms directed at the work of educational historians. To try to reconstruct the daily reality of a social...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN “A Blot upon the Whole School System”: The Attempt to Reform the Grammar Schools, 1853–65
    (pp. 150-174)

    In the two decades around mid-century, an era of unregulated expansion had created a variegated pattern of grant-aided grammar schools ranging from Tassie’s model school at Gait, exclusively male and classical, to the union schools of Port Burwell, Vienna, or L’Orignal, hardly more than common schools, and if the inspectors are to be believed, bad ones at that. Some offered advanced classics and some did not. Some taught the three Rs and some did not. Most had girls attending but a few did not. Some had several masters, most had but one or two. Half were united with the local...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT The Revenge of the “Parasite Grammar Schools,” 1866–69
    (pp. 175-195)

    Armed with the new powers they had acquired under the act and regulations of 1865, Ryerson and Young set out with as much dispatch as possible to impose order and direction on the grammar schools. During the autumn of 1865 and throughout 1866, Young visited all of the grammar schools, administering the final entrance examination and then carrying out a more general inspection of each school. According to his own account he examined “about 2000 children individually” in 1865, and the numbers must have been much the same the next year.¹ In both years Young routinely failed 20, 30 or...

  14. CHAPTER NINE Ryerson in Retreat: The Politics of Education, 1868–76
    (pp. 196-213)

    “It is wise to anticipate what is inevitable.”¹ Ryerson had penned that aphorism at the outset of his career as chief superintendent of education, and just as it had directed his course of action on other important occasions, so it would again during the crisis of the late 1860s. Confronted by the rising tide of opposition to his grammar school policies, he was now prepared to bend to the political winds by formulating proposals that would conform more closely to local sentiments and to the views of his critics in the legislature and the press. But he still intended to...

  15. CHAPTER TEN The “Degradation” of the Public School
    (pp. 214-230)

    The common school, Ryerson had always insisted, must be more than just a primary school. It must offer not only the rudiments of learning, however important they might be, but a complete English education as well, advanced enough to finish the education of all but the small number of children who would attend a classical or ladies’ school. He had first articulated this expansive vision of the common school in his inaugural report of 1846, had reiterated it in 1858 in his first program of studies for common schools, and, in 1871, had incorporated it into the prescribed curriculum for...

  16. CHAPTER ELEVEN Reshaping the High School Curriculum
    (pp. 231-253)

    Just as the primacy of the public school was steadily undermined during the 1870s, so indeed was that other principle which had informed Ryerson’s vision: the differentiation of superior education by gender and by the curricula appropriate to a liberal and ordinary education. In the first case, this demanded separate schools for girls and boys, and, in the second, distinct programs of study; but one way or another such differentiation had been a fundamental goal for Ryerson from the time he had been appointed superintendent of education. Here again, however, he was never able to translate official policy into educational...

  17. CHAPTER TWELVE Defining the Upper Boundaries of the High School
    (pp. 254-273)

    By the end of the 1870s, the boundary between the public school and the high school had largely been defined and the former reduced to a feeder for the latter. What had still to be determined, however, was the nature of the relationship between the high schools and those institutions which provided higher education in Ontario – the universities and professional associations. Before the 1880s, the boundaries between the two levels of education had yet to be defined, the academic responsibilities of each had not been clearly delineated, and efficient mechanisms for articulating the schools with higher education had not yet...

  18. CHAPTER THIRTEEN The Social and Educational Limits of a High School Education
    (pp. 274-295)

    During the 1870s and 1880s, the high school began to consolidate its role in Ontario society by acquiring a secure pool of recruits and a sharper definition of its purpose. Though enrolments grew rapidly throughout the period, the high school continued to cater to a small minority of adolescents, attempting to keep the two principles of wide accessibility and rigorous selectivity in delicate balance. It promised this minority mental culture and a practical education, but its interpretation of both was circumscribed by the educational and social shibboleths of the time. These characteristics of the late-nineteenth-century high school, and the tensions...

  19. CHAPTER FOURTEEN The High School in the 1880s: Changes and Continuities
    (pp. 296-312)

    Without school registers like those available for the years around 1861, we know less than we would like about the students who attended the high schools of the 1870s and 1880s. Without the written reports of the high school inspectors, we know less about the quality of the teachers or the physical layout and internal organization of the schools.¹ There is, nonetheless, a large amount of scattered information on each of these subjects that can help us compare the character of the high schools in the two decades after 1871 to the unreformed grammar schools of the fifties and early...

  20. CHAPTER FIFTEEN Conclusion
    (pp. 313-320)

    In his peroration as president of the Ontario Teachers’ Association in 1869, Rev. Dr Nelles of Victoria College listed what he believed to be the critical issues facing his generation of educators, and he urged his audience not to rest until they had been resolved. There would be “time enough” for that, he said,

    when the leading Educators in Europe and America have come to something like agreement as to what should be taught, how it would be taught, and when it should be taught; what place should be given to Physical Science, and what to Languages; what to ancient...

  21. General Tables
    (pp. 321-330)
  22. Appendices
    (pp. 331-342)
  23. Notes
    (pp. 343-406)
  24. Index
    (pp. 407-411)