This article was developed as a proposal for a Ph. D. thesis at the Faculty of Education, McGill University. It was published in Discourse, The St. Lawrence Institute, Winter, 1994.
In 1975 I published an article entitled “Some Reflections on Canadian Education” in the History and Social Science Teacher. I argued then that Canada had never produced an indigenous philosophy of education but had accepted imported ideas, first from Europe and later from the United States.
I pointed out that, by the late nineteenth century, the classical curriculum of the British grammar school, imported in the early years of colonial North America, gave way to the ideas of European social revolutionaries like Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Herbart and Froebels. These philosophers changed our perception of the school’s purpose, slowly eroding the traditional concentration on formal literacy and the acquisition of knowledge, and giving way to an increasing concern with the methods of teaching and the interests of the child.