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REVIEWS 309 Insteadit is a catch-allfor a m•langeof reflections and reportson work in progress. The editormightwellhavepaidmoreattention toProfessor Creighton's equallywell knowninjunctionthat the historian,from hisanalysis of character and circumstance, mustdraw themeand variation.Indeed,it is primarilyfor thenarrativesynthesis, forwhathehimself referredtoasa 'trilogyononetheme,' that Professor Creighton isjustlyfamous. What reallyunitestheseessays in a negativesense is a commonrejectionof social theoryandideology aspointsof departurein thewritingof history. Some essays are expliciton thissubject,othersmerelyimply it. For example,Roger Grahamuses Weberonlyto dismiss him; P.B.Waite,in an amblinghistoricists's quarrelwith E.H. Carr, refersto theoryasa 'Procrustean torture.' On the use of 'sociological rulesand generalexplanations,' the contributors follow Professor Creighton's words,nothisdeeds, for, asJ.M.S. Careless remindsusin an importantessay onthetechnique andcontinuing relevance of Creighton's prose style,'hisscholarship hasbeennotablyshaped by an underlying economic conception , based in turnonthephysical factsof Canadiangeography.' Invariablyhomages to greatmenraisegreatexpectations yet onlyrarelydo theymeasure up. Characterand Circumstance is no exception.As a collection of essays it lackscoherence andconsistent quality.But it isnot just a collection ofessays; it isa handsome tributetoCanada's mosteminent historian. H.V. NELLES York University CanadianEducation:.d History.Editedby J.D.WILSON, R.M.STAMP, ANDL.-P. AUDV. T.Toronto,Prentice-Hall, x97o. Pp.xvi, 528,maps, illus.$9.95Fewtextbooks area pleasure toread,andthisnewhistory of Canadianeducation isnoexception. The bookwasdesigned to servethe professional needs of 'prospective teachers' and 'school administrators' plusthe moremundaneconcerns of the ordinaryhistorystudent. With muchfanfare,the editorsproclaimtheir beliefthateducational history isa formof social history, thattheyhavetried'to placeCanadianeducational development morecentrallyin the mainstream of Canadiansocialdevelopment.' Further,conscious of that great Canadianidol 'unityin diversity,' theyhavetriedto represent all regionaland culturalviewpointsin onebook,usingthetalents of a numberof writersand allowingeach topursue individual themes. Theeditors particularly emphasize theirattachment to the biculturalpriority,to the fact of 'a continuous dialogue'betweenthe twoanglophone editors andtheirfrancophone comrade to produce a composite work.Considering thiscommitment to somanyof thepresent academic fetishes, littlewonderthat theactualbookisa bit disappointing. Like all texts,it aimsat a comprehensive discussion of itssubject - Canadian education, fromits 'origins' in ThomisticCatholicism to its 'glory'in Ontario's Hall-DennisReport.Eachperiodandeachregionreceives some attention,sometimeswith strange results - whythreechapters on theessentially similarexperienceof theAtlanticcolonies? Asonemightexpect,thestructural evolution of school systems is the mostobvious concern. There is muchpointeddiscussion 310 THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW of therelations between church,state,and educators, the problems of politics andtheneeds of schools, and thepoliticalconsequences of teacherprofessionalism .Throughoutthereis a verysuccessful treatmentof changing ideasand techniques in education - from the earlydiscipline-oriented systems, through progressive education, to the presenteducational confusion; and, thoughthe authors deaflydonotrelishthefact,theirtreatment highlights thedependence of Canadianeducation uponthe outsideworld, especially the United States. Unfortunately, the moregeneralattemptto weavetogethersocialand educationalthemes isless successful. With a fewexceptions, theauthors'discussions of the 'wholepicture'rarely riseabovethe ordinary;too often, their so-called analysis of the roleof education in society is a mereboosterism. For example, though the liberal ideal of masseducationreceivessomeconsideration, its opposite, the continuing themeof anti-intellectualism, is largelyignored.And the treatmentof that equallycontroversial question, the relationship of technology , industrialization, and education, particularlyfor the periodafter x9•o , isspotty andconfused. In generalthe booksuffers from an overdose of information.True, someof the materialusedis unusualand interesting, suchasM.R. Lupul'saccountof a 'typical pioneer school' orH.A. Stevenson's case study oftheunfortunate Hope Commission onOntario education. But on toomanyoccasions the authorshave simplycatalogued factswith little concernfor their relevance. L.-P. Audet's listingof the variousschool actspassed for Quebecbetweenx84• and x875is not onlypointless but incrediblydull. E.F. Sheffield's wholechapteron postsecondary educationafter x945,thoughcertainlysignificant, dissolves into a welterof detailaboutcommissions, institutions, andmen. Despitethe fact that thisisa co-operative enterprise, the qualityof thebook is remarkably uniform.To be sure,someof the chapters are verygoodand a fewratherpoor.R.M. Stamphascombined newmaterialoneducational methodology ,urbanization, andsocial values to drawa superb pictureof education in EnglishCanada between x87o and •9x4. Alison Prentiss''The American Example'isa masterful survey andsynthesis of a complex question. At theother endofthescale, theworkofL.-P. Audetisstrangely wooden andsimple-minded, morean outlineof assorted factsthan a discussion of Quebeceducationand society. The restof thebookexhibits boththe strengths and weaknesses of professional competence. Well-researched and reasonably argued,thesesections carefullyinformbut neitherexplorenor excite.Thus M.R. Lupul'saccountof educational crises betweenx867 and x9x 7 canhardlybe betteredfor itsbrevity or accuracy, but unhappilyit doesnot travelmuchbeyondexisting secondary sources. Evenin the section whichdealswith the post-x945 period(whereone might expectsomething 'exotic'), the authorsare eminentlysober- and obviouslytimid . Perhaps oneshouldnot complainaboutthe limitations of professional competence - all toooftenthat competence ismissing. Besides a textbook isoneof themostformalproductions in theprofession...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 309-311
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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