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Edited by Hugh Oliver, Mark Holmes, and Ian Winchester. Toronto, OISE Press, c1984. 189pp, paper, $18.50, ISBN 0-7744-0281-4. CIP

Professional and Adult
Reviewed by P.J. Hammel

Volume 13 Number 2
1985 March

This is "not intended to be a comprehensive chronicling of two hundred years of educational development," but rather, fourteen essays, "some personal and some detached, some descriptive and some analytical," which were meant, says Clifford Pitt in the Introduction, to "celebrate something of the story of Ontario's education." And a fine celebration it is!

By comparing his own education-begun some 60 years ago—to that of his grandson's present day education, Pitt reflects the personal stamp that each writer puts on his work. At the same time, his "Don't tell me that education isn't enormously better today!" and "When it comes to matters educational, Ontario really is where we'd rather be!" set the positive tone which pervades the entire work.

Five of the fourteen essays are rather comprehensive, in that each traces a particular theme through the two hundred years. "Trends in the History of Ontario Education," by Willard Buhault, discusses nine trends (although there may be others) which characterized educational development in Ontario. "Progressivism versus Traditionalism," by Mark Holmes, refutes the pendulum effect that most of us subscribe to and describes surges of progressivism which have marked most of the changes in education. Walter Pitman, in "What To Teach," takes a philosophical and practical look at curricular development and suggests several directions for the future. Jim Parr, in "Education or Schooling," argues that education has changed from mere training to personal fulfilment. Finally, Ian Winchester's "The Future of the House that Ryerson Built: Ontario Education in the 21st Century" asserts that "Ryerson's five great principles (of education) are not only very successful principles for the past and of considerable use in the present but also, when suitably modified, they are sound principles for the future."

Among these five general essays, nine others are interspersed that deal with more specific issues: the little red (rural) schoolhouse, independent schools, the French language question, the schooling of girls, special education, education and the oppressed, continuing education, community colleges, and universities. Thirteen poems of varying length and quality, some relevant and some not so relevant, serve as dividers between essays. Cartoons are also sprinkled through the work; some are indeed comic, while others serve only to illustrate the content. Throughout all of the essays are boxed quotations related to the issue under discussion; many are from Ryerson himself.

The Catholic Separate School System, a publically funded system in Ontario, albeit the antithesis of Ryerson's vision of public schools, is erroneously and much too briefly included with independent schools. It is ironic that, after the brief treatment accorded this significant, alternate system, a special note on the Acknowledgement page calls attention to the fact that since these essays were written "the Government of Ontario has announced plans to provide public funding for the Roman Catholic Separate School System up to and including Grade 13"-extended from Grade 10.

Generally, however, this is a most interesting and informative work. The broad coverage of issues will serve wide interests. Because the essays are independent, they can be read in any sequence and as intermittently as interest suggests. Also, each bears the author's personal stamp and, therefore, variety of style rather than the single-minded, scholarly approach of most historical works. Most important, though, is the sense of satisfaction: the sense that, although improvement is possible and needed, education has improved tremendously and the feeling and the expressions of optimism that the future is bright for education in Ontario. It is good to read, for a change, something which celebrates the good in education, rather than emphasizing the flaws. Both the professional and the interested layman, from all parts of Canada, will enjoy this celebration!

P.J. Hammel, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. Sask.
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