Organizing for Learning
The sections of this Report devoted to the learning experience and the learning program describe how children learn and how learning experiences designed to develop each child's potential can be provided. But the uniqueness of each child places a special responsibility upon the organizer in education. The range of differences and abilities among children is so wide that it is neither possible nor desirable to organize them into classes or groups based on external measures of ability.
This portion of the Report attempts to set forth new principles underlying the legislation, regulations, and policies made by those responsible for the organization of educational services. The title 'Organizing for Learning' was chosen deliberately to emphasize the fact that the needs of the child lie at the heart of the educational function, the prime purpose of which is to serve those needs.
It is the view of the Committee that many organizational patterns in education, because of their bureaucratic nature, have been unnecessarily limiting for both children and teachers. Beginning with the classroom, therefore, this section examines the changes which must be made if Ontario's largely hierarchical system is to become truly a system of service to children.
In the Classroom
The kind of classroom practice and the pedagogical principles that the Committee endorses are set forth elsewhere in this Report, and a chapter is devoted to the role of the teacher. Still, it must be emphasized here that the teacher ought to be considered the champion of his pupils in the whole realm of educational administration. Yet the present organization of both supervision and business administration in education implies an almost militaristic distribution of authority, status, and responsibility, which is not in keeping with this emphasis. The traditional attribution of power to individuals for other than functional reasons is becoming less and less feasible in education. As educational levels rise, people become increasingly capable of independent thought and action, and increasingly resistant to arbitrary authority. In education, as elsewhere, workable plans are being developed in many areas to co-ordinate effort, to define areas of responsibility, and to define leadership roles wherever people work together for common purposes.
In the face of the bewildering array of people, functions, and concepts focussed upon the child, it cannot be too strongly or too frequently stated that the teacher must be the final arbiter for his pupils. Cooperative planning and consultation are necessary and desirable, but the ultimate responsibility for making decisions concerning his pupils belongs to the teacher, who must have the competence and authority to do so.
In this regard, a variety of promising new organizational patterns is developing in schools. There is special merit in joint planning by teachers. The lonely isolation of classroom teachers has no place in this time of expanding knowledge, innovation, and increasingly high standards. The security and competence to be gained through cooperation with fellow-workers, and the sharing, not only of planning but of daily tasks, must become an accepted characteristic of teaching.
There is great value in the use of school assistants, especially where team teaching is practised. These assistants can relieve teachers of many administrative duties and functions which now occupy much of the time that teachers should spend with children.
There is considerable merit, also, in giving teachers responsibility for a group of children, a block of time, and an area of curriculum. In such an arrangement the principal does not undertake to assign each child to a specific class or to organize each day for the school, except where the needs of particular groups conflict. His role becomes that of coordinator and catalyst of the overall program.
In a few newer schools, large open areas comparable to the combined space of
three, four, or more classrooms become 'learning pods' in a school.
In each of these 'pods', the teachers directly responsible for a
group of children work as a team. The team organizes and reorganizes,
plans activities based on pupils' interests and needs, and generally
makes use of each teacher's specialties as well as pooling the knowledge
of each child within the group. Such reallocation of function from
principal to teacher is urgently needed to release both children
and teachers from the dictates of timetables that are too rigid
The tone of a school is largely set by the principal. The Committee has been impressed by the evident truth of this, but there are a number of implications in such a statement.
It is possible for a principal to wield too much power in school matters. He can control such matters as promotion, marks, grading, and examinations. He can assign pupils to groups by whatever plan and whatever philosophy he prefers, subject only to the degree of uniformity required by higher authority. He can control the discipline and morale within his school, and, in this respect, system-wide attempts at uniformity have little real effect.
Paradoxically, however, the principal is at the same time near the bottom of a hierarchy that often includes a superintendent, assistant superintendents, a director, the school board, and the Department of Education. In some cases this hierarchy includes batteries of consultants, supervisors, and often parents themselves.
The principal who sees himself as the curriculum leader of the school acts as a consultant, advisor, and co-ordinator, and spends most of his time with children and teachers in psychological, sociological, and curricula activities. He subscribes to the theory that the aims of education are determined philosophically, and he realizes that striving for uniformity through standardized tests, external examinations, and other devices and controls has little to do with the attainment of objectives in education. Subjectivity is his accepted mode for educational endeavor; objectivity is desirable only in specific instances, subordinate to the major purposes of education.
The Committee was impressed by those principals who are attempting to fulfill such a role at the present time. It seemed obvious, however, that such efforts are often thwarted by aspects of the educational hierarchy mentioned earlier. Since the operation of a school will undoubtedly continue to require considerable administrative detail, assistance must be provided, in the form of competent secretaries with business training, to relieve principals as far as possible from purely administrative or organizational responsibilities. Because of the growing complexity of educational services, new ways must be found for administrative skills to serve education at the level of the school.
The principal should also be encouraged to visit other schools and to participate in policy formulation across his own school system. Such responsibility helps a principal to develop breadth of vision and augments his experience.
In addition to serving as leader in his school, the principal has a vital responsibility for maintaining links with the community of which his school is a part. A school must be sensitive to the nature, needs, and desires of the community, and to know what these are the principal must enter into community life. His participation can take many forms, most of them informal and individual, as he calls on the resources of the school system and the community to help children.
There are also parent associations in which both principal and teachers can participate, and thus add another dimension to their understanding of the children. As school boards become concerned with larger numbers of schools and wider geographical areas, there may be a developing need for a more formal pattern of communication between the school and the area which it serves. Both the school and the parents might benefit by the formation of a school committee in each school, with members elected at a meeting of the school community. The purpose of such a committee would be to aid the principal and his staff in interpreting the school to the community, to keep the principal and staff informed and aware of the needs of the community, to support their school in its relationship to the school board, and generally to provide for and maintain a degree of local interest in the school among people whose school trustees will be more remote than formerly.
The role of the vice-principal also requires examination. Too often this position is characterized by clerical rather than educational emphases. As a potential principal, his major function is that of providing support for the responsibilities of the principalship, as well as increasing his own breadth and depth of experience.
In keeping with the teacher's increasing responsibility as a co-operative planner
in his school, the responsibility for principalship might be re-examined
in favor of other forms of leadership. The 'captain of the ship'
description so frequently applied to principals may well be made
obsolete by the use of team leadership, wherein a teacher team assumes
the role of principalship in a school. Certainly the campus-type
school, in which several buildings are part of a single school complex,
would lend itself to this kind of leadership, and school boards
should be encouraged to experiment with this and other types of
Organization of Schools
There is a wide variety of organizational patterns in schools in Ontario and elsewhere. One conclusion to be drawn from this is that the form of organization is much less important than the personalities, experience, and training of the educators in the schools. This is not to say, however, that the organizational structure cannot expedite or hamper progress toward the aims of a school or system. It is apparent, for example, that the grade system has outlived its usefulness in its present form.
There is no uniquely desirable organizational pattern for the schools. Such planning should be the prerogative of the individual school, of the principal in conjunction with his teachers. It has been suggested that simply naming each year, 'first,' 'second,' and so on, with the concept of failure removed and new and better kinds of evaluation substituted for the 'marks, examinations, report card' syndrome, could serve quite well as an administrative device for keeping track of pupils in a school.
The ideal school complex should provide facilities that encourage the greatest measure of uninterrupted articulation from year to year. Sharp lines of demarcation serve to defeat the continuum principle offered by the learning program. Various forms of organization designed to improve articulation are already appearing across the province, and although present buildings in a community may well govern the organizational structure of the schools for years to come, this should prove no handicap where flexibility and co-operation are guiding principles in a system.
Two other principles of organization should be mentioned here: school size, and community use of schools.
In recent years school enrolments have become larger and larger, as the population has increased and the centralizing of schools has been made possible through larger units of school administration. Since the passage of Bill 54 by the Ontario Legislature in 1964, clear patterns have emerged:
*This total includes 78 schools that did not report as to teaching areas.
There is considerable reason for concern over the impersonal attitudes and regimentation often associated with large schools. Although efficiency, economy, and flexibility of program are compelling arguments for placing large numbers of children in single school units, it must be emphasized that larger units of administration do not necessarily mean larger and larger schools.
A school needs to be supported by a large tax base and to be part of a large administrative area, but the enrolment in it need not be larger than is considered viable. Even in schools with 500 pupils, groupings of children must be arranged so that pupils and staff members can enjoy a relatively close relationship. The effective counselling recommended elsewhere in this Report can be achieved only when pupils and teachers have daily and meaningful contacts. The establishment of House systems, for tutorial purposes rather than competition, or the conversion of department heads into chief tutors among 'tutorial sets' of students and teachers, would further improve relationships among teachers and pupils.
As there may be wide variations in the size of schools, there may also be considerable variation in the age levels of pupils grouped in a school building. This need not seriously hamper the development of an integrated curriculum from kindergarten through the twelfth year.
Community use of schools has been a much-discussed but seldom-accomplished goal of education for many years. The real problem here, as with other desirable but seldom-attained educational goals in Ontario, lies in organization: in divided administrations, undefined responsibilities, restricted finances, and outdated legislation.
School buildings are expensive resources of major importance, and the public has the right to enjoy their widest possible use. Many communities have already demonstrated the feasibility of extending the use of these facilities, and the program now envisaged is one in which the library resource centre, the swimming pool, the gymnasia, and the classrooms can all be used as part of a regular community program. A school board can provide services and participate in programs now divided among such disparate groups as the Community Programs Branch of the Department of Education, library boards, service clubs, and social service agencies.
The Dynamic Community program (Dynacom), now under development in such areas as the Town of Mississauga and the Borough of North York, is a forerunner of what should be many such co-operative movements.
Principals should be prepared for their role as community leaders in this respect. The use of facilities by several groups creates problems that can be solved only by co-operation and good will. Teachers, assistants, and custodial staff of a school should participate in the planning involved in community use of schools. All should be represented on community planning councils, as should the school committees mentioned earlier.
The superintendent of schools should acquire an additional function, that of community education agent. He should maintain system-wide liaison with organizations related to education in his jurisdiction. At present, agencies which are in reality sections of the Department of Education (such as Community Programs, Libraries, Correspondence, and Youth) often have little or no liaison among themselves in the communities in which they function. The superintendent should provide an awareness of available services and help avoid duplication. He should become an additional resource, as the principal and his school committee endeavor to provide a community school for all.
The school board
At this level of organizing services for education, the needs of individual children are remote considerations for people concerned with policies, regulations, and management. Paradoxically, however, it is only as organizations become large that resources can be mobilized to provide opportunities to satisfy the needs of each child. For example, the long struggle in Ontario to provide special education for all children with handicaps has been made considerably more difficult by the complexity of conflicting authority and overlapping jurisdictions. Only in cities where single boards of education have had large tax bases and large populations, have adequate special education services been provided. Further development is now taking place in such cities as a result of the integration of the elementary and secondary branches of the Department of Education, which has freed the boards to develop genuinely integrated services. A further step now necessary is the appointment of co-ordinators and consultants to ensure that various community agencies or the school system itself provide health and welfare services for all children.
In the view of the Committee, the formation of large units for educational purposes throughout the province was a necessity. At every level, and for every kind of problem in education in Ontario, the existence of 15 varieties of school boards has retarded improvement. The time was overdue to end the preoccupation with organization that has characterized Ontario school administration. The feasibility of the Provincial Government exercising its prerogative in education was clearly demonstrated by Bill 54 of the 1964 Legislative session. The move to township school areas has already brought inestimable opportunities to thousands of children, as central schools and improved services have followed in the wake of mandatory legislation for larger units of administration. The recent introduction of legislation to establish units that can undertake the complex responsibility of educating every child to the limit of his potential, is endorsed by this Committee.
The following section suggests some criteria around which suitable units for educational administration should be organized. The model established here, based on an article by Charles F. Faber in the Phi Delta Kappan, is in no sense definitive, but it does attempt to outline some principles which school boards may find useful. Each criterion is presented as a brief general statement followed by further explanation.
The four major criteria for school board organization suggested above are reflected in a study of services to children now available in most of the major cities of Ontario. The range of services could be extended to include other services that already exist in some communities, but that can only be considered by relatively large school boards: psychological and psychiatric services, welfare and housing liaison services, liaison with penal and reform institutions, and so on. Such specialized services might still be beyond the capabilities of smaller county or separate school boards. Particular needs in this category could be added to a brief list of other specific functions that require co-operative action by two or more boards.
School board autonomy
Larger and more responsible school boards should have far greater control and autonomy than has been possible heretofore. The fundamental role of the provincial authority should be to equalize educational opportunity by means of a redistribution of money to the local education authorities, while leaving most of the decisions concerning its expenditure to them.
Schools and their principals and staffs need considerably more autonomy than is usually granted by boards and superintendents. This relative autonomy should be extended in such matters as curriculum planning, school organization, staffing, and the disposition of supply budgets. Teachers, principals, supervisory personnel, and board members should all review current practices with a view to determining areas of administration where uniformity is desirable without stultifying individuality. A case in point might be a decision to standardize 16-mm movie projectors or photocopy equipment, in order to simplify maintenance problems. No case can be made for a system-wide decision that all schools must have a photocopy machine or a 16-mm movie projector. Such priorities should be established within schools, reflecting the nature of the program available to the pupils. Similarly, there is nothing educationally or financially defensible about decisions to standardize textbooks within school systems.
A board should consciously encourage innovation, as only larger boards are now in a position to do. It would be useful to employ within a system one or more people to encourage innovation and planning, and helping to implement change. Such personnel would be a direct link to research as well as to other sources of new ideas, and could help considerably to shorten the notorious 'implementation lag' in education.
An example of innovation made feasible by the extension of local autonomy might arise from an easing of regulations governing school attendance. School boards might experiment with adjusting the length of the school day and the divisions of the school year within a fixed annual total set by the Department of Education. Similar flexibility might also be provided with regard to dates for school entry, so that school boards might be free to establish multiple entry dates for beginners.
The roles of a professional library and a variety of in-service activities should not be overlooked in relation to innovation. Outside agencies may provide expert assistance from time to time for in-service activities in school systems, but a good deal can be accomplished on a local basis by large boards with adequate staff services.
Supervisory responsibility of school boards
The school board should be responsible for the curriculum of its schools. Thus it must maintain a staff of consultant specialists whose skills are related to the many aspects of child development and the learning program. The role of these persons should be one of service rather than of surveillance, since assistance to teachers and pupils is the basic justification for their presence. Many of these positions, of course, will require highly specialized skills found only in people who are specially trained. A number, however, can be held on a less permanent basis by teachers whose abilities might best be applied in short-term consultative roles. Such teachers could leave the classroom for a period of one or two years to serve in this capacity, knowing that they would return to the classroom on completion of the assignment.
An elected school board should be responsible not only for the operation but also for the quality of its system. New and better techniques of supervisory practice involving in-service work, group dynamics, and self-evaluation are replacing the traditional methods of rating teachers. Still, the responsibility for improving the quality of education in a system requires that superintendents, boards, and teachers' federations also accept the responsibility for removing from the profession those deemed incompetent to teach. The presence of supposedly objective ratings or levels of quality in teaching has only obscured the fact that a teacher is either competent to remain with students or is not.
Those who continually harm the developing characters of their students should be denied the privilege of teaching. High standards of entry, continuing in-service education, and flexible placement policies can ensure competency in other respects.
Suspension, like teaching, is a subjective exercise, best carried out by those who know the people being supervised. In the opinion of the Committee, therefore, supervision of school personnel is a function not of the Department of Education, but of the school board. The Committee recommends, however, that the Department of Education retain responsibility for certifying and prescribing the qualifications of the school superintendent who, as senior officer for the school board, should have the powers and responsibilities of chief executive officer of the board. It is desirable that education officers receive specific training to ensure an adequate supply of qualified people with a broad generalist outlook in education.
It is desirable that senior educational officials in a community should have recognized rights with respect to the maintaining of liaison among the various agencies that are related to the education and welfare of children in the community. By various means, the superintendent and the school board should help to co-ordinate the work of groups concerned with public libraries, teacher education, and community colleges. The school board should have a direct relationship with regional schools located in the community which provide special educational facilities. These include hospital schools, reform institution schools, schools for the deaf and the blind, and other such establishments.
The Provincial Department of Education
The movement toward the organization of larger units of administration in the province brings with it the need for the school boards of these larger units to assume a greater degree of self-determination in the operation of their affairs. The decentralization of many aspects of educational administration from the level of the Department of Education to that of a local school board requires a new description of the relationship which must exist between the Department and the local authorities. This decentralization must be meaningful if it is to be effective.
There are many forces at work which invite change in educational organization. The Committee has examined the sociological and economic forces which press on the child's world. These forces create demands for new patterns of educational government.
The Department of Education, in the interests of the welfare of the children in Ontario, must always maintain a certain degree of regulatory power. The regulatory power of the Department has ranged over many areas, from prescribing the square footage of proposed class rooms to the specific prescriptive design of program content to be presented in the classroom, and from the work of supervisory personnel to the education and certification of teachers.
The new autonomy of the larger boards requires, however, that this regulatory process be modified, and that the maintenance, 'gatekeeper' type of leadership which tends to be associated with the regulatory role, be transformed into other more vital types which must characterize the Department of Education of the immediate future.
Historically, the function of the Department of Education has reflected the diverse population pattern of the province. With a preponderance of widely scattered schools and rural school boards, the Department's concern with problems associated with such conditions is understandable.
But Ontario has changed, and will change even more in the near future. Educational problems are associated with large urban, suburban, and rural administrations. The needs of these changing patterns of organization will call increasingly for a highly sophisticated and knowledgeable problem-solving group within the Department of Education. Further, after the formation of larger areas of educational administration, it follows that the Department should withdraw from operational functions, retaining policy formation as its only unique and indispensable function. Administrative tasks that now distract officials from this function should be considered the responsibility of local jurisdictions.
Because of the rapidity of change associated with this whole question, it is suggested that some of the personnel of the Department should be organized into task force groups, brought together with people from the various systems of education in the province and given freedom to concentrate upon the problem at hand, to create a solution, and to begin its implementation. Thus the major portion of the Departmental staff would work in a series of forming, re-forming, and dissolving groups of task-motivated, problem-solving forces. The Committee strongly suggests that solutions to our rapidly developing and changing problems will be found only by a personnel group within the Department which reflects an organizational sensitivity to the real world of children. Frequent contact with children is a prime requisite for Departmental officials.
All professions face a critical shortage of highly competent personnel. Education is no exception. As the larger units of administration develop, they will automatically increase the demand for leadership personnel. At this point, it is significant to note the magnitude of the staff employed by the Department of Education, as indicated in the accompanying table.
When any educational bureaucracy reaches such size, it can be speculated that a great deal of energy will be expended on the perpetuation of the organization, with relatively less consideration being given to the needs of children in the schools. Locking a professional group of this size into a central organization handicaps people who could serve more efficiently at the local level.
We can also hypothesize that many members of the Department staff have experienced the traditional atmosphere of the civil service and the old organizational pattern of career direction which presented clearly charted routes to promotion. This is rapidly becoming less true, and the proposed new design of the Department will stress this point.
Moreover, salaries paid to Department personnel do not guarantee that the people of Ontario have the best professional educators within the Department of Education. The creative, dynamic educator is generally found where his worth is recognized financially and a sense of innovative freedom more readily prevails. We must have excellent educators at the Department level, even for short periods of task-force service. Pruning the present staff to a size which can function in the new domain of relationships between boards and the Department would provide savings which could be used to increase the power of the Department in its search for talent. This power would be further increased by providing on-going training experiences for Departmental personnel.
Within the last three years ten offices of the Department of Education have been established across Ontario to decentralize the operations of the central office. In many instances, this has resulted in an additional layer of administration. In other areas, there have been significant results, particularly where the regional office has started to move toward the function of a service centre, providing expert help to local supervisory people as well as classroom teachers. The new school boards with their own staffs and increased powers of decision-making will have less need for consultative help of the kind now offered. Regional offices should be reduced in number, and those remaining should serve as resource centres, assisting innovation and communicating ideas through out the Ontario system.
A redesigned Department of Education must take into account the factors surrounding education today, the trends to organizational change already underway, and the demands which call for reconstruction of the Department as a new and vital leadership force.
The organization proposed here is not intended as a detailed and permanent alternative to the present system. The Committee hopes, however, that it will serve to reflect at least two of the characteristics of modern educational activity: dynamic leadership and local autonomy. A system of education dedicated to individual needs and aspirations is most likely to flourish in an atmosphere which invites constant striving for improvement.
An ombudsman in education
The growing complexity of educational systems, the diversity of educational experience, and the emphasis upon equality of educational opportunity, suggest the need for an office in education to which individual problems might be brought. The Committee, therefore, recommends the appointment of an ombudsman in education to act as an independent public officer serving all levels of education in matters of dispute. This is not to suggest a lack of competence or sensitivity on the part of authorities in education. Rather, the recommendation suggests that their responsibilities and prerogatives, as well as the rights of educational consumers, might be better understood and protected through such an office.
A description of 'A model for Ontario'
The role held by the Department of Education for the citizens of the province has created a bureaucratic organizational structure which has been described in the text of this Report. The model presented here is an attempt to illustrate an administrative design based upon the interrelationship which must exist among all elements and sub-systems of the total organization for learning. The development of equality of educational opportunity and the decentralization of decision making to the levels of implementation are the governing principles for the organization suggested by the model.
The 'Domain of Provincial Policy,' created by the Legislature, spreads over all governing authorities in education. This domain embraces the activities of a Department of Education, led by the Minister and the Deputy Minister. The structure of the suggested Department is basically designed around responsibilities related to Legislation, Planning, Research and Development, and Systems Evaluation.
The Legislation section is sensitive to necessary changes in legislation, responsible for creation of legislation for the Minister and for advice which gives clarity to legislative interpretation. The bulk of the Department's activities is found in the Planning, Research, and Development section and its sub-sections. This section is responsible for long-term planning as applied to all activities in education; for short-term research, for the identification of particularly crucial research areas, for long-term study, and the contracting for this research with the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education; for the development of demonstration centres in school jurisdictions, the interpretation of new processes and procedures found around the world; and for providing direct aid to school boards where new developmental projects are undertaken.
The Systems Evaluation section is concerned with the total analysis of any part of the educational system, upon the request of any governing local board, or of the Minister.
The three basic sections are supported in their work by the Supportive Services of statistics, grants, data processing, information, building guidance, and other services that the work of these sections demands.
The Department is related to the other elements of the provincial structure through the co-ordinating activities of a Communications section which would also act as the initial receiving base for external communications, and their channeling to the correct action centre within the Department.
As local educational authorities, regional authorities, and other educational agencies work within the 'Domain of Provincial Policy,' they create as a result of their activities, a second domain known here as the 'Domain of Educational Implementation.'
Boards of education, separate school boards and other boards concerned with the first 13 years of schooling naturally relate to other realms of the educational spectrum- the universities, the community colleges, special residential schools, and private schools, within the region. This type of interrelationship results from activities in an 'Area of Interest and Co-operation.'
Created and governed by acts of the legislature, several orbital organizational structures form part of the design. These agencies, at any particular point in educational history, represent larger or smaller spheres of influence upon various parts of the organism; e.g. the Advisory Council issues a major report, or the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education announces a major finding in educational theory.
Any model of this type must also recognize the presence and influence of a host of social agencies, educational bodies, and other groups interested in education and its development and outlined here outside the two basic domains; for example, the Ontario Educational Research Council, the Canadian Education Association, and others.
The office of the provincial Ombudsman is illustrated as a line cutting through the complete structure, since, as a public officer, his responsibility would necessarily be related to all educational levels.
At present, grants from the Provincial Government to school boards generally fall into the two categories of operating costs and capital costs. Capital costs are usually for buildings and sometimes for pupil transportation. Another minor category may be classified as 'stimulation grants,' which are specifically provided for the encouragement of such things as membership in trustees' organizations, payment of superintendents' salaries, provision of textbooks, establishment of special education classes, and so on.
Grant regulations are extremely complicated and very detailed, largely because of the necessity to relate to a wide variety of local administrative units. The variety of kinds of school boards in the province and the tremendous range in their size has created a stultifying complexity in the provincial authority's financial relationship with them. This relationship ranges from the relatively remote- with regard to administration in an area like Metropolitan Toronto- to the operational control of a school board in unorganized territory in the far north of the province.
With the advent of a rational pattern of boards of reasonable size, the autonomy of each school board in financial matters must be greatly increased. In fact, the operational principle ought to be that a school board is responsible for education within its territorial jurisdiction. Grants from the Province should be a matter of disseminating funds, but the actual expenditure of such funds, including the way in which the money is spent, should be the prerogative of the board. Local decisions should concern such matters as the proportions to be spent on learning programs at all levels; amounts allocated to materials and equipment; the proportion to be spent on salaries and buildings, and so forth. In essence, the fiscal role of the Provincial Government should be to calculate, in co-operation with local education authorities, their needs and their ability to pay; these factors to be compared with the provincial totals and related to the available amount of money in the provincial budget for educational grant purposes. Present 'stimulation grants' from the central authority should be abandoned. If boards ate to be relatively autonomous, they must establish priorities of this kind for themselves. If the need arises, from time to time a particular grant might be instituted by the Province to encourage provision of some desirable feature or practice, and continued until it has been adopted by a sufficient number of boards to warrant the inclusion of such monies in the general grant structure.
In theory, then, each school board should establish its own priorities and exercise real autonomy. Only on such a principle can diversity be encouraged in cultural, architectural, curricular, and organizational matters. It is worthy of note that this principle is well-established in the field of university financing in Ontario. The application of this principle has received world-wide attention, and may well provide a model for the development of school board autonomy in this province.
The Committee recommends that school boards should receive substantially increased provincial grants. The percentage would vary with the wealth of the assessment base of each board and the total enrolment in the schools compared to provincial totals, but the average should be considerably higher than the present 42 to 45 per cent. Any ratio of local revenue to provincial grants should leave significant local prerogative, and yet should considerably free local residential property assessment from taxation for education.
The Committee wishes to emphasize that its position with regard to increased provincial responsibility in educational finance in no way implies a desire for central control. Rather, it is intended to indicate the Committee's conviction that the high costs of modern education are creating a burden for homeowners that is rapidly reaching unbearable proportions. Again, since education is already accepted as a provincial and even a national resource, placing the prime responsibility for its finance on the shoulders of the homeowner can no longer be justified. The Committee, therefore, suggests that immediate and urgent attention be given to a search for new ways of finance that will eliminate the residential property tax as a source of support for education, and will ensure quality and equality without loss of local prerogative.
Some special considerations
In striving to provide the best possible educational opportunities for the people of the province, the Department of Education must be sensitive to problems and possibilities as they emerge, and must initiate or encourage solutions and improvements. Some of these problems arise from conditions that have a long history of tradition or practice; others are by-products of a new age. Some have relatively simple solutions; others almost defy solution, because of cost, apparent public opinion, or divergency of views. Having espoused the principle of equality of opportunity, however, the Department of Education is committed to the search for the best possible means of making the principle a reality.
A wide array of conditions bearing on this question constantly confronts those responsible for public education, and this Report draws attention to three areas that are pertinent to the present time.
The development of an educational television service has rapidly become one of the major activities of the Department of Education. The production and dissemination of programs bearing the endorsement of the Department has been a good example of an educational innovation. It is, however, the opinion of the Committee that the present predominant role of the Department in educational television may affect adversely the implementation of educational aims and the operating roles of various levels of the educational system in the province.
Essentially, all television, commercial and educational, is a technique for the communication of information, in this case with the advantages of moving pictures and sound. Much of the effectiveness of television as a form of communication is derived from the fact that a great many people receive the same information simultaneously. The contribution of such a communications medium to improvement in the level of general knowledge and mutual understanding must not be underestimated, but this same characteristic imposes a new requirement on the schools.
Since much of the traditional function of transmittal of a common cultural heritage has been assumed by television and other mass media outside the school, the school must emphasize instead the development of individuality among children and must seek at the same time to create a balance between conformity and individuality. The attitudes, methods, and curriculum endorsed in this Report should provide the kind of school experience necessary to the development of secure, creative, and independent adults.
One of the organizational problems of educational television is the need to find ways to decentralize the techniques of transmission, so that individual schools and classrooms, and ultimately individual students, may have access to information when they need it. Electronic video recording, a new and relatively economical process, heralded as comparable to the phonograph record in its impact on communications, will help to meet these requirements. There are indications that it will be commercially available in the early 1970's. Even with the advent of this flexible arrangement for recording and transmission there will continue to be a need to decentralize the planning, preparation, and transmission of programs wherever possible.
The objective of adapting the content of programs and the means of transmission to meet the immediate interests and needs of the student does not negate the valuable role that certain forms of broadcast television can perform. Television's immediacy enables it to communicate events as they occur in widespread parts of the world. Students must be permitted to observe, then analyze and draw their own conclusions about contemporary events. Television all too seldom achieves its potential in this respect, but when it does, as in the events surrounding the death of President Kennedy or the launching of rockets into space, the results are of spectacular educational value. Educational television should explore its role in this regard, especially in relation to local or regional events not normally of interest to commercial broadcasters.
Because television is essentially a one-way medium of communication, there is all too often a tendency on the part of production teams to employ basically a documentary style of presentation, whereby programs merely give information, without involving the viewer except as a passive recipient of such information. With careful planning and creative production, however, it is possible to prepare programs that involve the viewer in a variety of ways- by arousing his curiosity; by helping him to look more carefully at a subject; by transporting him, vicariously, in time and space to far-off events and places; by presenting for him various viewpoints on an issue; by creating situations leading to discussion or reflection; by showing him how to perform a skill; and by providing experiences which enable the viewer to form his own generalizations or conclusions. If educational television is to make its appropriate contribution to practices that emphasize inquiry, discovery, and the pursuit of individual interests, it will be essential that the planning and production of programs be based on this philosophy. Television programs for school use must support the teacher's goal of guiding pupils through inquiry, and must not subvert or compete with this goal by merely presenting packages of information.
In discussing arrangements for planning, producing, and transmitting educational television programs, the following matters must be considered:
- What authorities should be responsible for program planning and content?
- Who should determine, direct, and co-ordinate general policy?
- Who should provide production facilities?
- Who should provide transmission facilities '
In keeping with the view that curriculum development should become a local responsibility, there is need to encourage the development of regional and local ETV authorities, comprising local and county school boards, Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology, universities, adult education groups, and other educational groups interested in ETV. These authorities should have the major responsibility for the planning and preparation of programs within their regions. In this way programming can be closely related to local curricula.
It is the belief of the Committee that the ETV branch of the Department should continue to produce pro grams of general curriculum interest that will be avail able for use throughout the province, and should also produce and transmit special programs for those areas where regional authorities do not develop.
The Committee accepts the view that the provision of transmission facilities is a federal responsibility. How ever, in applying this policy, the allocation of broad casting channels and the location of stations should reflect the growing importance of educational television. Also, in making use of federal transmission facilities, it must always be clear that the responsibility for program policy and content must remain within the province.
This concern for provincial control over the content of programs produced by authorities within the province is not intended to preclude worthwhile television services of either an interprovincial or a federal nature. The definition of education as it relates to broadcasting requires clarification; to this end the Committee suggests that the Minister of Education seek an opportunity, in company with other provincial Ministers of Education and the Federal Government, to define education as it relates to television in Canada in the light of modern educational requirements at the school and adult levels. The Committee also believes that the province should continue to co-operate with other provinces and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in producing high-quality ETV programs of an inter provincial or national interest.
Concerning educational television within the province, the need for overall policy formation, and for developing a co-ordinated network of production centres can best be met by an independent provincial ETV authority. The Committee therefore proposes that the Minister of Education establish a provincial ETV council, independent of the Department of Education, and composed of Department of Education officials, teachers, trustees, and representatives of regional ETV authorities, universities, Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology, and adult education groups. This body should establish policies to guide and direct the orderly development of all educational television within the province as follows:
1. Encourage and assist in the development of regional, and eventually local, programming under the direction of regional ETV authorities;
2. Provide production facilities to the Departmental ETV branch, to regional ETV authorities, and to other educational agencies;
3. Recommend the grants for production by ETV authorities and the ETV branch of the Department of Education;
4. Co-ordinate the activities of all ETV authorities;
5 . Develop the competence of teachers and other per sons to assist in educational television by seconding, for limited periods of time, capable persons from the Department, school boards, and local ETV authorities assist in the development of qualified persons who will assume leadership with other ETV authorities as they develop;
6. Assume responsibility for encouraging and directing research and evaluation of educational television at all levels.
Separate schools in Ontario
In this province, denominational separate schools have existed as a matter of right since prior to 1867. All but two of the 482 separate school boards in the province are Roman Catholic. There were in September, l967, 381,460 pupils in Grades 1-8 in Roman Catholic separate schools, compared to 1,002,341 in the same grades in the public elementary system. At the same time, there were 21,037 pupils in Grades 9 and 10 in separate schools throughout the province. There are no publicly supported separate school grades beyond Grade 10. Grants for Grades 9 and 10 are made, but at the elementary grant level. Of the pupils who continue beyond this level, many transfer to public secondary schools, while others go to private secondary schools.
The Committee heard arguments for and against extending publicly-supported separate school grades beyond Grade 10. It has devoted considerable time to consideration of this aspect of education in Ontario, for it has an important and direct bearing on the aims and objectives of education in the K-12 continuous learning program which the Committee recommends for adoption in Ontario.
In the implementation of the proposed plan for larger units of administration for education in Ontario, announced by Prime Minister Robarts on November 14, 1967, some arrangement acceptable to all should be found- one which will bring the two tax-supported systems into administrative co-operation, preserving what is considered by the separate school supporters as essential to their system, and at the same time making possible a great deal of co-operation and sharing of special services, avoiding duplication in many areas and services, with a consequent saving of tax dollars; but of infinitely greater significance, an arrangement which will bring to an end a controversy that has burdened the administration of education in Ontario since Confederation. That such could be achieved with good will and understanding would testify to Ontario's maturity and its vision of a greater future for all Ontario children, with the result that all children would have equality of opportunity through education- the goal toward which education in Ontario is aiming.
Just as the move to county and city boards in the public sector of the educational system is highly desirable in the opinion of the Committee, so it is necessary for separate school boards to be organized in units of adequate size. There is no need to repeat the description of the present complexity of administrative jurisdictions surrounding school children. It applies equally here. Further, separate school boards, because of the 'three mile radius' provision in The Separate Schools Act, have not generally had coterminous boundaries with any other educational or municipal jurisdictions, thus complicating the organizational problems of both educational and municipal of offices to the point of absurdity. Unlike public school boards, separate school boards have been able to borrow their own capital funds with out the intervening permission of each municipal council whose jurisdiction lies partially or totally within the territory served by the board. Nevertheless, the issuing of tax bills, the use of county health units, county libraries, and the like, become much simpler to arrange when jurisdictional boundaries are coterminous.
If, as is to be hoped, the legislation creating county and city boards of education in nearly all of Ontario is passed in 1968, it is also highly desirable that similar legislation creating separate school board areas co-terminous with the board of education areas be passed.
Given the presence of a single board of education and a single separate school board in a county, new patterns of co-operation between public and separate school supporters are feasible, to the benefit of children in both sectors.
The list of services that might be shared is a long one. Such services could include:
- Pupil transportation
The duplication of school bus service in many communities requires co-ordination on a county basis.
- Sharing of consultative staff
Many services provided by highly qualified and relatively scarce specialists could be available to children and teachers in the whole county.
- Common sites
Joint planning could develop campus-type sites, where playing fields, gymnasia, heating plants, libraries, and so on could be shared.
- Joint projects
New ventures could be developed jointly that individually might unduly strain the resources of a single board, such as the provision of outdoor schools or field study areas.
- Health services
Medical and dental services, whether provided by the joint action of the school boards or by a county health unit, should be established on a county basis.
- Counselling services
This service to children and teachers requires competent specialists for the personal counselling aspect, and a widespread and up-to-date information system on the vocational side.
- Computer services
Expensive and sophisticated systems are necessary for proper use of this kind of equipment, for computer assisted instruction in schools and classrooms employing remote terminals, for instruction in computer mathematics and computer programming, and for use in administrative services.
- In-service teacher education
A pattern of joint in-service work among teachers has already developed in many communities; public and separate school superintendencies (both rural and urban) have held joint conventions; and teachers' federations have carried on joint courses.
- Special education
Communities within the county may set up joint classes for the handicapped and share staff and facilities; joint teacher councils already exist in some communities.
In addition to the kinds of joint effort suggested in the foregoing, there could be a single joint committee established by the two school boards in a county to meet regularly with planning authorities in the county, hopefully with a single County Planning Board.
Full achievement of co-operation is a matter of time, good will, and the spirit of ecumenism that is every where tending to bring people together.
Private schools in Ontario
While examining methods of organizing for learning in Ontario, it must be observed that not all children attend publicly-supported schools. Indeed, the Committee recognizes that there are more than 230 private schools in the province, providing education at various levels for almost 50,000 children. The accompanying statistics reveal the educational levels offered by these schools and the diversity of their emphases, which ranges from selectivity of affluence, religious philosophy, singular methodology, and cultural accents, to special problem areas.
This is not, of course, an educational custom peculiar to Ontario, or even to Canada. In most democratic states of the world the free will of the people in educational pursuits is reflected in a variety of approaches to school learning. Many of those who favor the existence of private schools defend them on the ground that their presence enhances rather than detracts from the vigor of the publicly-supported system. Others are equally strong in the belief that private schools, because of their selective nature, weaken the public system.
The issues are far from simple, and their historical roots and present-day ramifications are exceedingly complex. In briefs presented to this Committee, requests ranged from the need for per capita grants or special subsidies to the promotion of specific teaching techniques. Recently, 19 independent schools joined in a presentation to the Minister of Education, requesting financial assistance.
The Committee, with the information and resources at hand, felt unable to reach clear-cut decisions in this area of education. However, it recommends that the Government give early consideration to setting up a select committee of the Legislature to study this matter in depth. It is hoped that the study will be conducted in the spirit of this Report, which places its emphasis upon the quality, diversity, and accessibility of educational facilities; the need for qualified personnel; integrated services; and the recognition of the individuality of and concern for every child in Ontario, to the end that equality of opportunity is a reality in education.
Research in education
In the present climate of change and of discontent with tradition, no one responsible for public education can afford to overlook the role of research. New needs, new ideas, new pedagogical insights, and new technological tools crowd the learning horizon. Many of these demand immediate attention; others suggest the need for thorough and patient investigation; all require continuing pure research, accompanied by practical experiment. Such a range of research should involve the skills and knowledge of a variety of professionals, including experienced educators, to evaluate current practices, test the validity of learning theories, probe the unknown, and point the way to new concepts and possibilities.
Much pertinent research and theorizing is already being done at many Ontario university centres in the fields of psychology, sociology, philosophy, biology, anthropology, urban studies, mathematics, and other disciplines. In too many instances, however, the findings have not been communicated to the broad field of education. Part of the reason for this may lie in the fact that faculties of education, reinforced by graduate studies focussing on educational problems, have been slow and limited in development in this province.
The Committee has examined the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, known as OISE, which now carries a monolithic responsibility in the areas of educational research, curriculum development, and graduate studies in education, the last mentioned being carried on in close relationship with the School of Graduate Studies of the University of Toronto. To carry out its responsibilities, the Institute has gathered academic staff representing many fields of study related to education, including historians, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, and specialists in computer applications, testing, and educational planning.
OISE, which was created by the Ontario Legislature in July 1965, is unique among North American educational institutions in the breadth of its program, its multi-disciplined personnel, the extent of its financial subsidy, and its high degree of autonomy. In the words of its Director, in his 1966-67 Annual Report: " [The Institute's] role is essentially the role of an innovator.
The Institute is designed to recommend and help make changes in our schools, so that what is taught and how teaching is carried out, consistently reflect the most advanced thinking in education... to keep the education system moving ahead at the same accelerated pace as the society it serves."
The Committee was impressed by the personnel resources of OISE- not only for research but also for teaching in graduate courses. It is the only centre in Ontario equipped at present to offer a wide variety of courses and advanced work leading to doctorates in education. Several qualifying observations may, how ever, be made:
An Advisory Council
Any system providing for public education must be sensitive to the needs and aspirations of the people that it serves. Formally, this sensitivity is sought through local trusteeship and the Minister of Education responsible to the Legislature, and the Committee does not question this approach to education. It does observe, however, that the increasing complexity of both the organization and the operation of educational facilities makes it imperative that there be a continuing examination of the educational resources of Ontario and a maximum degree of public interest in the educational process.
These two imperatives might well be met by the establishment of an autonomous council representative of public and professional interest, whose primary function would be advisory. The council would evaluate the effectiveness of existing facilities, and propose the extension or the establishment of new institutions or programs as might be indicated by social and economic trends or the demands of public opinion. It would also study the numerous proposals emanating from individuals or groups, to bring to bear a broad spectrum of judgment on which to base decisions by government or other bodies.
Such a council should be established by legislation, reporting to the Legislature through the Minister of Education, and should be adequately supported by an independent budget appropriated annually.
It should report to the public at large, in the manner of the Economic Council of Canada. It should be empowered to commission research when such might be more economical or efficiently conducted by others. It should have the right to initiate investigations within its specified terms of reference, and to accept commissions from the Minister or the Government to conduct whatever surveys or investigations might be required in the field of education.
The continuing structure of such an agency might include a full-time chairman and two associates, appointed for a specified term of years, possibly seven; this term might be renewable for a further half term, if such an extension was felt to be desirable. There might be a part-time council of about 12 representative persons, of whom nine would be citizens without formal connection with education, and the other three would be per sons with direct experience in the educational process, probably at different levels. Appointment should be made by the Lieutenant Governor in Council with the 12 part-time members selected from small panels of names proposed by appropriate civic bodies. Per diem expenses should be paid, but meetings need not be frequent except when a major inquiry is being conducted. It is essential to the working of this program that the council not be dominated by partisan appointees or by professional educators.
It is to be assumed that the proposed educational council, in addition to its continuing survey of social needs and educational effectiveness, would from time to time conduct general inquiries similar in form and purpose to those ordinarily assigned to Royal Commissions or Minister's Committees. It should be empowered according to the provisions of The Public Enquiries Act to ensure maximum efficiency and public respect.
The council would naturally turn to the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education for major assistance in the field of research findings and expertise. The Ontario Educational Research Council and the Canadian Council for Research in Education would be further sources of useful information.
In summary, such a council should be a major policy advisor to the Legislature, the Minister, and the Department of Education on all matters of education in the province, excluding the universities. Consideration might be given at some time in the future to the merging of the functions of the provincial advisory council and the Committee on University Affairs, in some way designed to ensure the co-ordination of educational policy while at the same time preserving university autonomy.
The Federal role in education
Although education is primarily a provincial field, federal responsibility is established in some areas.
The education of Indians and Eskimos has been the responsibility of the Federal Government, and a significant educational administration has developed in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon Territory. In each province various co-operative arrangements for the operation of Indian schools have been made with the provincial Departments of Education. In Ontario, this co-operation usually takes the form of supervision by provincial officials and the use of Ontario courses of study and curriculum materials.
The Federal Government operates schools under the aegis of the Department of National Defence. In Ontario such schools are located on military bases. In schools serving Canadian military bases in Europe the Ontario curriculum is generally followed. The Federal Government also operates a variety of other specialized educational institutions, such as a fisheries school in Newfoundland and the Royal Military College at Kingston, Ontario.
In addition to these established responsibilities, the Federal Government has become involved in a number of other educational areas.
A most significant role played by the Federal Government in provincial educational affairs has been in the area of vocational education. Since shortly after the First World War, federal funds have been made available to the provinces for vocational training. Most recently, a Federal-Provincial agreement has resulted in the massive program of technical and commercial school building which has increased the accommodation in such schools from about 90,000 in 1961 to the present total of approximately 230,000. Although this Federal-Provincial agreement was terminated in 1967, it is an interesting example of federal influence on education. It is the opinion of the Committee that it had the desirable effect of making it possible to provide greater opportunities for students in an area in which the various provinces had not shown initiative prior to federal involvement.
It now appears that the Federal Government, through its national responsibility for communications, is about to assume a major role in educational television. In this respect, the Committee supports the view that federal involvement should be restricted to the provision of facilities. Program content and production should remain in the provincial domain.
The likelihood of the establishment of some form of national office of education is increased by the recent formation of a Council of Ministers of Education. It is the opinion of the Committee that this is a useful, indeed, necessary, part of educational development in Canada. A national office would expedite communication of needs and inform the provinces of worldwide trends in education through more direct and formal relation ships with countries overseas and with such agencies as UNESCO. It could serve as a forum in which discussions could be held concerning such problems as the total needs of students of all ages, and could make possible balanced distribution of federal funds to meet such needs instead of the present specialized distribution of funds for vocational purposes, university subsidization, manpower retraining, and so forth. If such an office were developed, it could serve to provide the provinces with greater control over the distribution of federal money, since the allocation of funds would be based on needs as seen by the provinces, rather than on needs identified at the federal level.
Of all public exercises, education can least afford to have its spirit dampened by bureaucracy. By its very nature, learning is the antithesis of the rules and regulations of uniformity. But if administration seems some times to curb the right to learn freely, it is also the guardian of that right. The organization and administration of educational services is one of our most difficult and pressing tasks. Properly envisioned and skilfully formed, the 'bureaucracy' of education can become an example for others to follow. Stripped of its outdated functions and staffed with highly qualified, imaginative people, sensitive to the complex needs of a profoundly changing society, the Department of Education can offer the high-level performance that such a government service requires. More than that, it can, through the able dedication of its officers, guarantee to every Ontario child access to the learning that will satisfy his individual needs and the demands of the future.
Fundamental Issues in Ontario Education
Educational problems are seldom static. As societies develop, different issues emerge to invite solution. Old problems take on new meanings, and demand new solutions. Other problems, often only superficially new, are solved with insights gained through years of experience. Old or new, today's educational problems reflect the accelerated tempo of change, and are influenced by pressures for short-term, flamboyant results. Yet the fundamental issues which underlie such problems are rarely resolved by abrupt attack. They require wisdom, understanding, and the patient probing that can come only from long-term commitment to educational improvement.
Here, then, are the major issues relating to educational change that have emerged from the Committee's study. They are not offered in order of priority, either of time or of importance. Some will require broad, strategic designs for change. Others will respond readily to specific techniques of implementation. All deserve the serious attention of those responsible for education in Ontario.
One of the fundamental issues facing Ontario schools is the shift of focus from structured content to the child, or young person, as an individual learner. The change, already well under way, has many ramifications. The graded system, as a succession of achievement levels, will be abandoned in favor of continuous progress by the pupil-progress at his own rate in the various types of work, study, and activity appropriate for the school. The concept of passing or failing and of being promoted or made to repeat a year will disappear. What confronts the learner will not be exclusively or mainly subject matter prearranged to meet requirements of adult logic, but opportunities to pursue with zest what he can appreciate for its interest and value in the vibrant world of today. The schools that we envisage will give every pupil an opportunity to participate in selecting and planning his own studies.
Innovations like these confront us with questions and problems that have no ready-made answers or solutions, such as: How can we ensure systematic learning in school in an environment of freedom? How can a highly-organized system, steeped in traditions of order, change its form from prescriptive to permissive? What about orderly sequence of subject disciplines? Will mastery of content be sacrificed? Should not the young be taught what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong? Granted that the principle involved is desirable, are teachers prepared to change direction, and is the public ready to accept the change?
The truth is that we have today no choice but to accept the fact of change and its implications for education. Until perhaps two hundred years ago people could take it for granted that the physical environment would remain very much the same during their lifetimes. Under such circumstances it was obviously proper for an experienced adult to transmit to the child an abiding social heritage and to teach the child to live in a world that would undergo no great change in the foreseeable future. But change, slow at first, has accelerated to a speed which is now bewildering to many adults. Although it would seem to be a paradox, the young may now be more at home in society than their elders, who might prefer something less unsettling than the dynamic, continually changing environment of 1968. Certainly the old prescription for education, requiring doses of content to be administered by adults to acquiescent children, is open to question.
Emphasis upon the needs and interests of the individual child is the very essence of this Report. This is the basic issue which will have to be interpreted to educational practitioners and to the supporting public. Fragmentary action programs already surround us on every side. The real goal will be reached when our social philosophy cherishes children and we act accordingly.
Teachers and technology
At this point it may seem trite to say that learning is an intensely human experience, and that children have a right to the illuminating warmth of stimulating teachers. All dreams of educational excellence will come to nothing without good teachers. Every effort must be made to give teachers the means and the recognition through which they may become truly professional. For this and other reasons, the Committee is insistent that every teacher must have a longer and broader pre-service education, general and professional, at university and leading to a university degree. But teachers must also be human to their fingertips. A barely perceptible touch of sympathetic understanding at the right moment may be of tremendous importance to a sensitive child.
Although it is of secondary importance, the hardware of the new technology demands attention and study. A great array of equipment is now available, and teachers must be well-informed, selective in acquiring what they need, and ready to use various devices, or have pupils use them, when they are advantageous. Such materials should be conveniently accessible in school, or, if expensive and elaborate, in local resource centres. Hardware which can be used often and effectively as an aid to learning should be regarded not as a luxury but as standard equipment for schools. Special study should be devoted to ways of utilizing the services of the computer in a co-ordinated and systematic manner throughout the province.
With the advent of new, highly sophisticated educational materials and devices produced for massive international markets, a further problem presents itself. How can the production of materials peculiar to Canadian needs be assured in the face of such overwhelming competition? Certainly it is desirable that teachers and students should have access to the best possible aids to learning, regardless of origin. At the same time, the preservation of a Canadian identity is largely dependent upon the preservation of Canadian creativity and the dissemination of indigenous knowledge. The issue, therefore, goes beyond educational needs; it extends to the roots of our economy and our culture.
Emphasis has been placed in this Report on various aspects of communication. These include use of the vernacular- ordinarily English, but in some places French - as an essential means of instruction. English is, of course, a language necessary throughout nearly all of North America and useful in most Western countries. But since French is also a native language of Canada, the teaching of conversational French in Ontario to English-speaking children, and English to French speaking children, becomes an educational issue. It must be admitted that the North American environment has not encouraged linguistic ability beyond the vernacular among English-speaking people. Still, there is a strong conviction that bilingualism is necessary to preserve and strengthen our national unity. The schools of Ontario must therefore play their part with a will to achieve these goals.
There are other means of communication besides language, and in these, as within one language, there are differences of usage and format which make it difficult for some groups of people to speak to others. In mass media and the arts, and sometimes in language, what is pleasing or significant to the young may be distasteful or meaningless to the old, or vice versa. Children from homes or environments outside the middle class culture may be unable to understand and appreciate what goes on in school, and the school may have a similar difficulty in communicating with their parents. The Committee has tried to make helpful suggestions and recommendations in relation to these and other problems- for example, the study of communications media and the reporting of pupil progress. But if we really wish to communicate, most of us might with advantage think less of our own volubility and more about the impression received by others when we speak, write, teach, or use mechanical media. Teachers and parents are now competing with professionals in communication when they try to hold the attention of the young.
Ontario is also the home of children newly arrived from a wide variety of other lands. Every effort must be made to make them at home as early as possible in the language of their school. This can be done without discouraging retention of their mother tongue, if it is spoken in the home and if the children are disposed to continue its use. The school can also help children to retain interest and pride in the customs of their home land by encouraging them to share their special knowledge with others in the school.
An important issue emerges in connection with new methods of data processing and information retrieval. Facts about a pupil, measurements of his performance, and even judgments regarding his character and potentialities may be recorded and stored. Such records should be treated as confidential, so that private information is not released or used without consent of the individual concerned. The possibility that information about a person may prove damaging is not to be treated lightly. Who knows what category of people might be segregated for special attention in an unforeseeable future, merely on the basis of the cards spewed out by an electronic sorter? Yet, data of this kind are valuable for research; ways must be found to utilize them while still guaranteeing the protection of the individual.
Equal access to education
A fundamental concern for equality of educational opportunity has been expressed throughout this Report. The Committee makes no plea for identical opportunity. It insists, rather, that every child have a right to the best possible learning experience commensurate with his needs, abilities, and aspirations. In the past a major obstacle to this has been encountered in sparsely settled rural areas. In such areas it is hard, for example, to provide at a convenient distance every service a young child may need, and harder still to offer a truly comprehensive program for older pupils. The Department of Education is to be commended for its efforts to cope with this problem, including recent legislation to establish much larger units of administration.
No avoidable barrier should block any young person's access to the higher reaches of education, including college and university. First, this means that virtually all pupils should complete twelve years of schooling after kindergarten.
The Committee has described a curriculum which should have continuing appeal even for those who have been impatient to leave school. Second, by virtue of what has been called an open-door policy, it must be possible for young people to qualify for admission to university, even at a late stage in their schooling. The Committee has described curricular arrangements under which pupils retained in school by intriguing opportunities for general education can adjust their individual time tables during the last two or three years to fulfill university entrance requirements. Third, for those aspirants who still lack complete university entrance requirements at the end of the twelfth year, there should be make-up and academic-orientation courses in what have been called Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology. The Committee would like to have these institutions evolve quickly into junior colleges of the type now found in the United States, especially in California. Such junior colleges offer not only practical and technical education, but a program of academic courses adequate to enable the student to cover an equivalent of the first year at university, usually without loss of time. Needless to say, this decentralization makes access to at least a beginning of higher education more convenient and economical for students who live at some distance from a university.
With regard to practical education, this Committee deplores the persistent notion that anything related to manual and technical skills is necessarily second-rate as compared with purely intellectual studies. Unfortunately, in practice, children of lower income families tend to enrol more often than others in vocational subjects. This must no longer occur through force of economic circumstances. Pupils must be able, regardless of social or financial position, to choose studies or courses in accordance with their interests and aptitudes. Some pupils feel more at home in practical courses where they are taught limited skills to increase their capability. But students with excellent academic ability may reasonably prefer to engage largely in general courses with technical or other vocational orientation, and to get specific training for skilled work later. At school they should receive accurate and objective information on alternative careers, but no biassed suggestion that they are choosing a less desirable type of education.
Industry has a role to play in practical and technical education- chiefly in completing the training of the student with instruction in the requirements of a particular job. It should also be possible for young people to earn and learn by working and going to school concurrently. For some pupils who, in spite of everything their teacher can do, have no desire to stay in school, industry may offer the best solution.
There are other issues related to the extension of school experience. If such accommodation is afforded the student, then program, entrance, and graduation requirements must become much less rigid and selective. Ways should be found to encourage the student who has dropped out of school to return if he so desires. The flow from school to community college must be without interference, and academic requirements should not close the door. Colleges must offer a wide range of courses in technology and the arts. Those students who find at the community college a new interest in university studies, or a newly awakened capability, should find the doors of the universities open to them.
No student in good standing in this province is now denied free access to schooling, up to and including what is now the public secondary school level. Beyond this point he is obligated financially, to a greater or lesser degree, depending upon the nature of his higher education. To assist him, a number of bursary, scholarship, and loan arrangements are available to those who qualify. The issue that emerges here is directly related to the principle of equality of opportunity. Since community colleges and universities are public institutions of higher learning, one may reasonably ask whether all Ontario citizens should not have access to such institutions without financial obligation. After due consideration of alternatives, the Committee decided to recommend, as an initial step, that education in any public institution should be free for one year after the end of the K-12 program. This recommendation is not so radical as may appear at first glance. A large proportion of the cost of further and higher education is already borne by the Province, so that the additional cost from the abolition of fees for the first year of tuition would be relatively small. On the other hand, the student has much more to pay than fees- board and lodging, personal expenses, and the loss of what he might have earned if gainfully employed.
That there is a need for opportunities in the field of continuing education is already an accepted fact; offering individual satisfaction as well as public return, adult education and training are demanding increasing public financial responsibility. The provision of job re-training opportunities and new career development requires that the doors of education be open to every adult who has a desire to enter.
The Committee hopes that the proposed Ontario Commission on Higher Education will give special thought to all educational facilities beyond the K-12 program, with a view to retaining geographic and financial accessibility, as well as the flexibility and variety which have been stressed in this Report.
The Economic Council of Canada has repeatedly stated that money spent on education is a sound investment. The Committee supports this view, and is neither dismayed nor surprised by the fact that in the last decade the costs of education have steeply increased. What has been accomplished in meeting the needs of a rapidly growing population at all levels of education is a remarkable achievement.
The issue here is not only the cost of education but the delineating of financial responsibility. Local taxation has risen to a level that imposes a visible and excessive burden on the homeowner and indirectly inflates the cost of renting an apartment or other residence. Should this burden be reduced by further provincial subsidies to local taxpayers or to municipalities for general purposes? Alternatively, should a larger share of the cost of education, or even the whole cost, be assumed by the Province?
Many professional educators believe that local interest in education can be sustained only by some measure of financial responsibility. They recall that the common schools of the province, and subsequently the public and separate schools, were originally set up by the people locally, and they are fearful that the schools will lose their local characteristics if the Province assumes the whole cost of education.
Others contend that 'money is power' is a folklore equation which must not be allowed to govern fiscal arrangements. They contend that the burden has become so great that new sources of revenue and new forms of taxation must be found that will reflect education as a provincial investment while protecting local prerogative and interest. They argue further that raising the level of education for Canadians, of whatever province, represents a national gain, and that federal financial commitment to education by direct subsidy, tax sharing, or whatever method, should be sought.
Obviously, this is an important issue. The Committee has recommended a search for new ways of financing education.
Planning, research, and development
Education is now an enormous undertaking which requires the services of a large number of specialists in planning, research, and development. There is danger here. When the province and its educational system and its schools were small, a teacher could more easily think of himself as an individual with work of his own to plan, manage, and perform. But size and complexity have increased the risk of bureaucratic control. It is therefore essential that planning, research, and development should be widely and truly co-operative. Everyone in a key position, from the Deputy Minister to a school principal, must encourage those associated closely with him to take an active part in decision-making. We cannot reasonably expect the schools to educate for democracy if the school system is not democratic in all major operations and departments.
In education there is need for research of various types and magnitudes. There is a tendency to think only of experimental and statistical studies as worthy of the name. But important as that type undoubtedly is, there is value in knowing what has been tried before and why it was adopted and retained or discontinued. Again, it is a professional obligation to know what is currently being done elsewhere, at least in one's field of specialization. For projects of considerable magnitude, only the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education has in this province the necessary resources at present; but the faculties of education the Committee hopes to see established in several universities should also be able to engage in major research.
Investigations of intermediate size can be undertaken by sections of the Department of Education, school boards of large cities, and the teachers' association suggested by this Committee. Studies of limited scope, largely of the type called action research, should be carried on continually throughout the province by individual teachers and groups of teachers. It augurs well for education in the province if there is a lively interest in research at all three levels of scope and magnitude mentioned above.
Only two observations will be made here regarding development, which is, of course, linked to research and planning. The first is that developments in education must be based on foresight, and must not, as too often in the past, be desperate and belated attempts to grapple with a crisis. One lamentable example of this kind was the last-minute resort in several provinces to short-term emergency courses to recruit and train teachers. From almost the beginning of the Second World War, educators at the annual conventions of the Canadian Education Association forecast the shortage of teachers that was coming. After the war, committees of the Association made a two-year study and published a report to show how a supply of adequately prepared teachers could best be assured- but to no avail. Admittedly, a low birth rate before the war and a high birth rate after, made the recruitment of teachers a difficult problem. Even so, it is no reason for pride that Ontario has been so slow in making the improvements in teacher education that would attract a larger number of capable applicants. The 1966 report of a committee on teacher education, recommending university education for all teachers, was widely endorsed but has not yet been implemented. It will continually be necessary to avoid other crises by planning with foresight.
The second observation applies to research and planning as well as to development. In any administrative organization there should always be a willingness to reappraise. There is a tendency for organizations to stray from their standards, and the dream behind the original institution may be lost. The same susceptibility to formalism applies even to new educational ideas which a teacher may adopt. At a time around 1800 when children in school were required to memorize words which had no meaning for them (the spelling of words and their significance defined in other meaningless words), the Swiss educator, Pestalozzi, had his pupils observe, examine, and get to know a thing before he told them the word used to name it. This enlightened practice spread to other schools and came to be called 'lessons on objects.' But the practice fell victim to formalism, and in a very short time young children in England and elsewhere were defining 'horse' as 'herbivorous quadruped' and classifying coal as 'bituminous or anthracite' without understanding what they were repeating by rote- just as before. The same crystallization of a lively idea into a rigid and deadening form could occur today when the ungraded school or team teaching, for example, are adopted. In every aspect of education, from administrative organization to arrangements for learning, there is constant need for evaluation of effects produced. The spirit of flexibility, freedom, and creativeness must continually be cultivated, reviewed, and renewed.
Conditions and prospects today
No longer is the philosophy of education merely a textbook subject. Teachers have begun to think for themselves about education and to define their own goals. In their day-by-day contacts and dialogues with pupils, teachers appraise and modify the whole educational process and evaluate their own growth as well as that of their pupils. The old practice of sitting aloof to mark papers and donning the mantle of impersonal authority to assign achievement marks is dead. Parents, too, realize what education means and now know more about the educational process. In interviews with teachers they are preoccupied not with the rating of their offspring in various subjects but with the young child's interest and happiness in school and with the older child's ability to take charge of his own affairs and to co-operate with others.
Today's school is not a mirror of the past. It is the present in action and a beacon for the future. There are good teachers who are alert, up-to-the-minute, and prepared to face the issues of our time. They make every attempt to inspire children to reach out for facts, to weigh information, and to test the applicability of theories for themselves. Among somewhat older pupils such contemporary events and developments as riots, wars, rebellions, drugs, violence, and changing values should be openly discussed in school, so that young people can learn how to apply objective methods in approaching everyday problems that confront them. Teachers are eager to be honest and frank and to help pupils in teasing out a problem, in seeking relevant information, in finding their own solutions, and in discovering ethical principles for themselves.
Children in school today are stimulated to interest themselves in their own community, their country, the United Nations, and the world community. They become aware also of unrest around the world and of such helpful guideposts as the human rights charter for all people. Older pupils may learn how to attain unity and retain diversity in our own heterogeneous society and to compare our values and goals with those of a country largely homogeneous in population. Pupils may also become at home in the realm of ideas and ideals. Each may be inspired by a vision of greatness, moved to compassion, made firm in commitment, and become accustomed to value learning as a life-long pursuit. These things do happen - but not by virtue of any such standard formula as dogmatic teaching of structured subject matter interspersed with exhortation. They happen because we have teachers with the insight and subtle skills of professional educators, teachers who are sensitively aware of those factors that foster or impede learning by the individual child.
Children born since 1945 have already experienced several major revolutions, created by discoveries concerning the atom, space, the computer, the biological genetic breakthrough, the surgical transplant of human organs, and the new theology. Taking major accomplishments as a routine of human life, sensitive young people grow restless and uncomfortable when they see unsolved problems around them. Can we, who are older, keep up with the young? In education, above everything else, it is essential that we do.
It really depends upon us to decide what kind of educational experience we want for our children. If we want to make the world a better place in which to live, we have the power to do it. In such a world, the individual will find self-fulfilment. This is the goal of education.
A Parting Word
Ours has been an exercise in group dynamics. The Committee was drawn from many walks of life and many backgrounds. Each member brought to the conference room his or her individual ideas, yet in the end a common opinion emerged without the sacrifice of principle by anyone. This was achieved by adherence to the over riding conviction that the child as a human being and as a learner must have precedence at all times. Thus, in our search for the means whereby this conviction might be realized, our individual views and aspirations found a common base in a child-centred continuous program of learning by discovery, which would bring the child to the realization of his full potential. The child and the adolescent brought us together in the knowledge that we had been given the great responsibility of having a hand in fashioning the future of Ontario's children.
We have been conscious all through our work of the great cost of education to Ontario. We are aware that our recommendations entail increased expenditures in some areas, particularly in teacher education and lower pupil-teacher ratios. But in other areas, substantial savings may be anticipated as a result of co-operative action, the integration of services, regionalization of efforts, and careful planning. Money spent on education is an investment which will pay dividends throughout the life of the pupil. But the quality of the educational endeavor cannot be calculated in terms of money spent, nor should the economics of education be the sole determining factor. Of even greater consequence is the fact that it will give our province and our nation an educated citizenry, maturing culturally in a physical setting that is unexcelled elsewhere.
In the course of our investigation we ranged widely, both in terms of educational practices and of the systems to be found within and beyond the boundaries of Ontario. While we were primarily concerned with curriculum, we concluded early in our operation that a curriculum can not be formulated in a vacuum. It must exist in an educational system which permits it to function in circumstances of freedom and equality of opportunity for all. We determined, therefore, that the school system as a whole was relevant to the subject of Aims and Objectives; that the aims and objectives we envisage for education in Ontario can be attained only in a school system designed specifically to meet the needs of the time and the inalienable right of all Ontario children to the best education possible within the limits of their abilities.
We were encouraged in our decision to undertake this wider and deeper examination by the Minister of Education, the Honourable William G. Davis, who sustained our efforts with the necessary budgetary arrangements, supported us by his own broad vision of education, and accorded to us complete freedom to probe as deeply as the importance of our work appeared to require.
We now relinquish our task, conscious that the broad design for education which we have recommended may be found to be inadequate by some and unsatisfactory by others. We trust that this Report will be studied as a whole, and viewed as such, and not as a collection of unrelated topics. Our dominant aim throughout has been to see and to delineate education as a complete and integrated endeavor for the children of Ontario- the children who very soon will have committed to them the responsibilities of adulthood and the destiny of a province in a united Canada, her citizens in harmony from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and at peace with all peoples. In this setting of unity, harmony, and peace, the educational endeavor will flourish and truth will make all men free.
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