Wien, Carol Anne and Curt Dudley-Marling. “Limited Vision: The Ontario Curriculum and Outcomes-Based Learning.” in Sara Burke and Patrice Milewski (Eds.), Schooling in Transition: Readings in the Canadian History of Education, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012: 400-412.
This article discusses the change in Ontario curriculum in 1997, from the previous curriculum set forth in 1995 by the NDP government. The tone of the article is very matter-of-fact, and the authors are clearly against the “outcomes-based learning” model presented in the curriculum. While they admit that the new curriculum attempts to step away from this system, it is ultimately unsuccessful because it still requires students to meet prescribed learning outcomes at the end of every grade.
One of the main points to be taken away from the article is the idea that it is very difficult to determine if outcomes are being met by students without testing of some sort. Even if the curriculum sets out to step away from standardized testing, in the end it seems to be a requirement. This reminds me of the most recent changes to the British Columbian curriculum, which aims to have students learn at their own pace and in their own style. It’s fascinating, though, how it seems very rare these days for a student to be “held back” in school. Is this due to an unwillingness to separate children from their peers, whether or not they have met the desired “outcomes’ or not?
Janovicek, Nancy, “‘The community school literally takes place in the community’: Alternative Education in the Historical Studies in Education, 24, 1 (Spring 2012): 150-169.
After reading about complaints about Ontario’s provincial education curriculum, this article discusses two British Columbian alternative schools in the mid-to-late 20th century. These people, like Janovicek, were dissatisfied with the education system put forth by the government, and took matters into their own hands. While the two schools discussed were quite different, they did share a common trait: they integrated “rural skills” into their curriculums, which included living sustainably, building, and farming skills. The author argues that these skills were important to those growing up in a rural area.
Janovicek’s main point is to showcase alternative schools created to protest the provincial curriculum that “corresponded to economic priorities established in the far-away provincial legislature” (166). Living in Canada, this makes so much sense. We live in geographically gigantic provinces, each with a variety of “social eco-systems.” It seems so silly to think that one provincial board is creating a curriculum for children from Vancouver to Fort St. John and all the small towns and rural areas in between. Children in Vancouver and and small, rural towns like Horsefly live very different lives, why should they be required to learn exactly the same things? As a Canadian, it makes sense to require some consistency in education amongst all citizens, but it also makes sense to provide specific curriculum to children based on where they are growing up and are likely to spend their adult lives. Perhaps these alternative schools featured in this article laid the groundwork for modern-day alternative schools that cater to children with specific needs.
Irvine, Jean, “History of home economics in British Columbia schools – 1896 – 1975.” THESA Journal, 14, 1: 8-19.
This article is one that relates to my research project on the evolution of Home Economics in British Columbia in the 20th century. Irvine’s article is an easy-to-read breakdown of the history of home economics, from its beginnings in the late 19th century, all the way to 1975, when the article was written. What is interesting to note is that the author, Jean Irvine, was the “Coordinator of Home Economics” at the University of British Columbia until her retirement in 1975. This suggests that she is very much “pro” home economics. In fact, at the very beginning of the article she references that 1975 was deemed “International Women’s Year,” and that the women who worked together to develop Home Economics as a program should be celebrated. Essentially, her position creates a strong bias as she writes about this subject’s history. This is definitely something to be considered while reading the article.
Her stance on the topic, however, provides insight into why the discipline was created. Looking at it today, it seems antiquated and perhaps demeaning to women to think that a program was put in place to teach women how to cook, clean and take care of their families more effectively. The women who created the program, however, obviously felt like they were doing important work for women. How has our way of thinking changed in the last century to allow for such a change of opinion? It is similar to many of the topics we have covered in this course so far, from segregated schooling to residential schools and special programs for children with special needs. At the time that these thing were done, “experts” believed it was being done for the greater good. We may know these things to be awful now, but at the time, it was considered a good idea. Obviously residential schooling and home economics are very different, but the same can be said about home economics programs. Even though feminists today may scoff at them, they were developed with the best intentions, in a time where programs for women were few and far between.