Educational Reform

Egerton Ryerson as the Chief Superintendent of Schools (1844-1876) in Upper Canada, laid many of the foundations of the Canadian education system. Ryerson’s radical idea: universal, free (state-provided), compulsory education. In 1845 only a patchwork of schools existed and children could expect only a few years of formal schooling. In fact, even the idea of public education was not yet accepted everywhere. There was no standardized teacher training and what was taught and how it was taught often varied by school. During the next 100 years, the public education system would be centralized and the number of schools would grow significantly. Education would be expanded to the masses and the number of years of schooling extended. Standardized teacher training and teaching methods were established as were authorized textbooks to aid in developing a universal system. By 1945, it was widely accepted that the state had a duty to provide public schooling to the young, free of charge, and to levy taxes for that purpose. Many people came to believe that schools could transform society. Over the 100-year period, schooling was reformed numerous times. Education was also transformed by technology and schools became centres for art and culture and extended themselves deeper into the community..