Diversity is Not a Catholic Value - Crisis Magazine
With the Spanish conquerors of the New World, the conquistadores, came friars and priests who immediately settled down to educate the Indians and convert them. Because there was little separation of church and state, the Roman Catholic Church assumed complete control of elementary education, and the early Franciscan and Dominican friars were followed by Augustinians, Jesuits, and Mercedarians.
Diversity is a modern shibboleth
Disdainful of the challenging intellectual values, the secondary schools continued in their Classical tracks. By the 18th century, however, their tradition was playing out, especially among the rising nabobs of the marketplace. When the old schools failed to respond to their demands for an education calculated to prepare their sons for everyday living, they resorted to private schooling. From such endeavour emerged the academy. The first school of strictly native provenance, it made its advent in 1751 in Philadelphia (the Philadelphia Academy), the work in the main of Benjamin Franklin. What differentiated it from its Classical antecedent was its promotion of “useful learning,” to wit, the vernacular, modern languages, history, geography, chronology, navigation, mathematics, natural and applied science, and the like.
Changes in British education in the second half of the 20th century extended education by population, level, and content without changing the basic values of the system. New areas for expansion included immigrant cultural groups and multicultural content, the accommodation of special needs, and the development of tools and content in the expanding fields of microelectronics.
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Of central importance in the development of Canadian education was the kind of agreement reached on church-state relations in education during this period. At one extreme was the arrangement made in Newfoundland from 1836 to accommodate all numerically represented denominations separately within a loose system (not until 1920 was a unified system of education developed, which still worked through five denominational subsystems). At the other extreme were the arrangements made in British Columbia, which became decisive when it entered the Canadian Confederation, to establish and maintain a free, unified, centralized nonsectarian system. Other provinces eventually developed patterns that represented compromises. The Nova Scotia–New Brunswick pattern, for instance, provided a unified system that in principle was nonsectarian but that allowed the grouping of Roman Catholic children for education, thus legalizing sectarian schools within the system. Ontario placed separate Catholic schools within a unified school system. Québec supported a dual confessional system from the 1840s to the 1960s, with parallel structures for Roman Catholic and Protestant schooling at both the local and provincial levels. Manitoba adopted Québec’s dual confessional system in 1871, then changed to a unified, centralized nonsectarian system amid much controversy in 1896.
Forgive me, Lord, if I use your words for an admonitory parable
The final years of the 19th century were years of structural formalization of the educational foundations developed in the productive middle period. In this, Ontario’s leadership was evident, especially as it affected the model of education evolving in the western territories. After Alberta and Saskatchewan were admitted as provinces in 1905, some divergence from Ontario took place: notably, both provinces required that Roman Catholic taxes go to separate Catholic schools (the decision in Ontario was based on free choice), and Alberta allowed separate school privileges through the secondary level. (Saskatchewan extended full funding of Roman Catholic separate schools to the end of high school in the early 1960s, Ontario in the late 1980s).
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Influenced by doctrines of laissez-faire, England hesitated a long time before allowing the state to intervene in educational affairs. At the beginning of the 19th century, education was regarded as entirely the concern of voluntary or private enterprise, and there was much unsystematic philanthropy. Attempts were made to channel and concentrate it, and many hoped that the Church of England and the dissenting churches would join in a concerted effort to provide a national system of elementary education on a voluntary basis. But discordant views prevented such cooperation, and two voluntary societies were founded, one representative of the Church of England and the other of dissent. In 1829 the Roman Catholics were emancipated by law from disabilities they had long suffered, and so they also were able to provide voluntary schools. Other religious bodies joined in the effort to meet the growing need for elementary schools, but it was soon evident that voluntary finance would not be equal to this formidable task. In 1833 the government made a small building grant to these societies, and in this modest way state intervention began. Six years later a committee of the Privy Council was established to administer the state grants, now made annually, and to arrange for the inspection of voluntary schools aided from public funds. The work involved led to the establishment of a small central education department, which was the beginning of the ministry of education.