January 6, 1944
memo from R. W. Anglin, High School Inspector,
to The Honourable George Drew, Premier of Ontario and Minister of Education
Toronto 2, January 6, 1944.
In accordance with the request contained in your letter of November 10th, I am enclosing herewith a statement of some of my opinions on "the ways in which our educational system can be improved".
While submitting this statement may I add that your letter of request strengthened the hope that I, in common with many others, have entertained for a thorough-going reconstruction of education in Ontario. Opinions which you have been reported as expressing in your public addresses have built up this hope. Your statements in favour of cadet training, on the need for discipline in the schools, and as to the vital importance of the teacher have met with general approval. Still more, however, the statement in your platform favouring greatly increased financial support has indicated a recognition of the supreme importance of education and your assuming the post of Minister I have accepted as a determination to give effect to your platform.
When the Province takes over a major share of the cost of education it will be in a position to effect improvements which would undoubtedly call forth strong opposition in some quarters if they meant increased local taxation. My colleagues and I have already submitted to the Acting Deputy Minister a statement of some of the improvements that we would hope might be encouraged through the medium of the proposed increased Legislative Grants. My statement herewith indicates a much wider list of improvements which likewise predicate larger Provincial support for their accomplishment.
I have limited my statements to the field of Secondary Education in Ontario as that is the field in which I have had most of my experience.
Again thanking you for the opportunity of setting forth my opinions and of submitting them for your consideration, I am
Yours very respectfully, High School Inspector. The Honourable George Drew, Premier of Ontario and Minister of Education, Parliament Buildings, Toronto 2, Ontario. RWA:H
MEMORANDUM FOR THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION Secondary Education in Ontario.I. Organizaton.
1. Secondary Schools for all.
Many youths are now denied the opportunity of a Secondary School education by (1) remoteness of residence, (2) cost of transportation, clothing, board and books, (3) unsuitability of the courses offered at the local school, (4) need for their help at home either in work or wages, (5) indifference of parents to the value of further education.
A fully democratic system of education will find ways of overcoming these and all difficulties in order to assure all youths equality of opportunity for the development of personality and for preparation for abundant living.
2. Suggestions for the attainment of this ideal.
(1) The re-arrangement of school areas for Secondary School purposes in order to insure as far as practicable that every School Section is included in such an area. In a large portion of rural Ontario these Secondary School Areas might be coterminous with the Township Areas for Primary School purposes.
(2) The establishment in each area of one or more Secondary Schools fully equipped to offer all courses necessary to meet the needs of the youths and of the community. Present schools, of course, should be used and expanded where feasible.
(3) Provision for the transportation of pupils daily to and from school where the distances require it.
(4) Special provision for pupils in homes too remote to be served by daily transportation. Such provision might be by payment of board in approved private homes or by the establishment of residences in connection with certain schools.
(5) Compulsory attendance of all pupils up to the age of 16 and part time schooling beyond that to (say) 18.
(6) Special provision for those handicapped physically or mentally by an extension of the present system of special institutions and auxiliary classes.
(7) An expansion of the present schemes for (a) Railway coach Schools, (b) Correspondence Courses to cover the needs for Secondary Education in certain cases not covered by previous provisions.
3. The Private Schools in Ontario, for the most part, have been rendering a real service to Education, particularly at the Secondary stage. In most cases they offer residential facilities and often some course in religious education with full time supervision of the daily routine of the pupils. These schools also have a freedom of action which they cherish in matters of organization and courses offered. At the same time they have shown appreciation of the opportunity of close co-operation with the Provincial System. In my opinion, an ever widening of this co-operation is desirable.
II. Staffing the Schools.
The first essential to the success of any system of education is that the schools be staffed with competent teachers. In order that an adequate supply of suitable teachers may be secured the teaching profession must offer:
1. A guarantee of security including:
(1) An assurance of a minimum wage with annual increments sufficient to cover the cost of a reasonable comfortable living, of books, magazines and further courses to improve professional standing, and of travel for recreation and for broadening the teacher's background.
(2) Rewards for outstanding service such as more rapid advancement of salary, promotion to more responsible positions, and special opportunities for travel and study.
(3) Assurance of permanency of employment.
(4) Ample retirement pensions.
2. A method of selection and of training that will ensure an adequate supply of competent teachers. Such a method should provide for:
(1) Aptitude and personality tests and reports during the teen-age years as an indication of likely candidates.
(2) Guidance for such likely candidates to inform them fully and direct them in selecting a course that will prepare them for the profession.
(3) Adequate preliminary training (a) academic (b) professional and (c) practical.
The practical part of the training might well start when the candidates are still in a Secondary School by providing opportunities for such pupils to learn by teaching others. A short period of experience in assisting an established competent teacher might also be made a prerequisite of admission to the Training College. Even the six weeks or two months between University graduation and the closing of the Secondary Schools could provide valuable experience. Such a testing experience should help in sifting out misfits and should provide the accepted candidates with some practical knowledge of the problems to be met in the classroom.
(4) Continuous training on the job.
(a) A probationary period of experience might well be required during which the embryo teacher would receive supervisory assistance and advice from an established teacher or a Principal and also, occasionally, a Departmental officer.
(b) After being confirmed in the profession, training should continue through (i) the teacher's private reading and study, (ii) summer courses, (iii) the observation of other teachers in the same school and in other schools and (iiii) discussions in teachers' meetings, at aconventions and with the visiting Departmental Inspector.
(c) Further training should be provided to better qualify successful teachers for higher prositions as (i) head of a department, (ii) Principal of a school or (iii) Inspector. This training could be offered throughSummer Courses for admission to which successful teaching experience and adequate scholarship would be prerequisites.
III. Inspection of Secondary Schools.
1. Duties of Departmental Officers.
In order to ensure the successful accomplishment of the whole scheme, close supervision would be necessary by officers of the department of education. These officers should be Directors rather than Inspectors as their duties should be:
(1) to observe the work of each school and confer with the Principal and the teachers in order to help improve (a) the general organization, (b) the methods of teaching, (c) the guidance given to pupils.
(2) to report to the Minister (a) as a basis for awarding grants, (b) suggestions for the bettering (i) of an individual school or (ii) of the quality of the teaching or (iii) of the general system of education, and (c) information on the basis of which rewards might be made for outstanding teachers.
2. The selection of these Inspectors (or Directors) for the present would need to be made, as has been usual, from among the most experienced and best qualified of the Principals and teachers in the schools. These appointments should be as rewards for outstanding merit; but could only be so used if the positions were made financially more desirable than the Principalships of the larger schools.
Later, special courses of training might well be instituted in order to ensure that those appointed should be well informed on the best methods of supervision both in Ontario and elsewhere. Perhaps the best means of securing this information would be through travel and observation of systems of education in operation in other countries. Those appointed as Directors should be expected to travel from time to time for this purpose and they should be allowed the time and financial assistance necessary. Such a policy should return large dividends to the schools under their care.
3. Organization of the work of Inspection (or Direction) of the Secondary Schools.
(1) It is becoming more evident each year that the separation of one group of schools as Vocational under a separate Board of Inspectors and subject to preferred treatment as to grants and courses of study has about served its original purpose of fostering their establishment. If the advantages of the special vocational courses are to be extended to all schools, it would seem reasonable that the direction of all types of courses should be under a common Board of Directors.
(2) In order to avoid too much centralization and to facilitate travel and reduce expense, it might be well to divide the whole Province into three or four large Regions and place each such Region under one Board of Directors. These Boards might operate from such centres as Port Arthur, North Bay, Ottawa and Toronto (or Hamilton or London).
(3) Each Board would need to include a Chairman and Specialists in organization in each of the Gerneral Course subjects (i.e. English, Social Studies, Mathematics, etc.), and in the various practical subjects, (i.e. Art, Music, Commercial and the other Technical Courses). If the Chairman were also one of the specialists and if the Directors of such subjects as Art covered more than one Region, the membership of a Board might be about ten. Each Board of Directors should be given wide responsibility, and a large measure of freedom of action, as at present, in carrying out its duties.
(4) If the Regional organization suggested is adopted, it would seem wise that the several Boards should rotate about the four Regions, spending two or three years in each Region. Such a rotation should serve to unify the whole system and should prove stimulating both to the schools and to the Boards of Directors.
(5) In order to promote further the unity of treatment and the stimulation of fresh endeavour, periodic conferences should be held by (a) members of a Board, (b) Specialists in a subject from all boards, and (c) all the members of the four Boards.
IV. The Courses of Study.
The most recent revision of the Courses of Study for the Secondary Schools was the result of a very thorough study by representative committees of educationists. These courses were issued in a tentative form and introduced gradually in the schools. Minor revisions have been made in some courses as the result of experience, but their complete introduction has been hindered by considerations necessitated by war conditions. While these courses have been pretty generally accepted as being along the right lines, there is an urgent need for a thorough-going revision in the light of the experience of the schools in their use and, in some subjects, of the impact of the war experiences upon their content.
In my opinion immediate action should be taken to revise and consolidate the courses of study for the Secondary Schools. This would be best done, I suggest, by the appointment of one individual, or a very small committee of two or three members, to be charged with the responsibility in each subject. Each such individual or committee should be instructed to seek the views of the teachers and others concerned with the subject, but the final responsibility for the form and content of the revised course of study, it seems to me, should rest on the individual or committee named. The experience with the large committees that were charged with the last revision proved very costly and none too satisfactory. The limiting of the final responsibility to individuals or to very small committees should produce better and more unified courses. There would be need, of course, for an over-all supervision by some one (or, again, a small committee) appointed for that purpose who would be directly responsible to the Minister.
Every course of study should be rather suggestive than closely directive. The individuality of the teacher should be given considerable play, and the special needs of a community should be met by offering optional topics or by allowing alternative topics when submitted and approved.
It would be well, also, to appoint a permanent Director of Studies (or again a small committee) charged with the oversight of the Courses of Studies who would be expected to recommend such revisions from time to time as might seem wise.
The list of subjects now included in the Courses of Study seem to meet the needs of Secondary Education satisfactorily. It is assumed, however, that the optional courses and subjects will be made equally available to all schools.
In order to stimulate initiative and research I would suggest one rather radical departure. Any pupil in any school should be allowed, under proper safeguards, to offer a special line of study, research, or investigation, as one of the options for a Graduation Diploma. The safeguards shoud include (1) a clear statement in advance from the pupil of the proposed topic of study, (2) a recommendation for its acceptance by his Principal, (3) the approval of the Director of Studies in advance, and (4) a full report of the research by the pupil with the endorsation of the teacher and Principal as to the satisfactory nature of the study.
V. Examinations and Certificates.
I see no immediate need for any radical change from the present scheme of examinations for the Secondary Schools and the procedure for determining the results and awarding the diplomas or certificates. Assuming a close supervision of the work of the schools with a progressive improvement in the character of the teaching, the present plan of accepting teachers' recommendations for all examinations except the final one at the end of the Upper School should prove increasingly advantageous. It places greater responsibility on the teacher, it encourages him to teach, develop, and train his pupils rather than merely to cram them for final external examinations. Pupils, under such a system in the hands of competent teachers, are more likely to develop along normal lines and to become better men and women and better citizens. There will, of course, be plenty of tests and examinations, but these will be closely related to the pupil and to the completion of his course of training and his standing and promotion will be judged by a teacher or teachers who have been training him and testing him daily throughout his course.
For the present, at least, the final Departmental Upper School Examination should be continued. It determines the entrance to further academic and professional courses beyond the stage of Secondary Education and it assures a common basis of knowledge and skill which are a prerequisite for such courses.
High School Inspector. TORONTO 2, January 6th, 1944.
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