Parallel Progressivist Orientations: Exploring the Meanings of Progressive Education in Two Ontario Journals, The School and The Canadian School Journal, 1919-1942

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Christou, Theodore
Progressive Education , Ontario , History of Education , Educational Reform , Progressivist , Humanist , Developmental Psychology , Meliorism , Social Efficiency , Institute of Child Study , Rhetoric , Critical Realism , Duncan McArthur , William Blatz , Herbert Kliebard , Child Study , Interwar , The School Journal , The Canadian School Journal , Active Learning , Individualized Instruction , School and Society
This dissertation arose from a need to derive an inclusive model for describing the historical meanings of progressive education. It considers reform rhetoric published in two widely distributed and accessible journals in Ontario, The School and The Canadian School Journal, between 1919 and 1942. These sources brought together a wide variety of educationists in the province, including teachers, school board representatives, members of the Department of Education, inspectors, and the staff of teacher training institutions, and were forums for the exploration of new and progressive educational ideas. Various conceptions and interpretations of what progressive education would entail were published side by side, in parallel. This dissertation describes the rhetoric of progressive education, which concerned three domains—active learning, individualized instruction, and the linking of schools to contemporary society—and considers the distinctions within this language. Further, this dissertation argues that progressivist ideas were interpreted and represented in different ways according to conceptual orientation and context. Three distinct interpretations of progressive education are described in this thesis. The first progressivist orientation was primarily concerned with child study and developmental psychology; the second concerned social efficiency and industrial order; the third concerned social meliorism and cooperation. Hence, I draw not only on three different domains of progressivist rhetoric, but also on three distinct orientations to reform. What emerges is a description of how different progressivists understood and represented Ontario’s transforming schools, in a context affected by the forces of modernity, world war, and economic depression.
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