Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor Carl Cuneo
The analysis of public educational reform initiatives is an important area within the sociology of education. My work contributes to this area by utilizing a genealogical analysis to closely read British Columbia's 1925 reform text, the Survey of the School System of British Columbia, along with several other supporting texts. I incorporate an examination of the modes by which educational practices were problematized and contested, resulting in the casting of subjectivities and the deployment of certain effects. This investigation provides insight into dominant ideas, material practices and institutional arrangements at a particular time and place. It also provides a means for rendering the discursive practices of reform visible, and, consequently, subject to scrutiny. In tum, this provides insight into how we constitute and regulate ourselves as particular subjects. I investigate the emergence of Progressive educational reform in British Columbia in the 1920s. I argue that the Survey of the School System was not simply a conservative document which reproduced inequality, but a problematizing activity with the ability to frame the educational debate, crowding out alternative interpretations and effects. This analysis allows for an examination of the Survey's claims to truth, as well as the rationalities it deployed. Based on legitimate scientific knowledge of psychology and eugenics, and bolstered by discourses of nationalism and government, new subjectivities of 'the developing child' and 'the adolescent' were constituted as racial and gender categories were normalized. The effects of this were far reaching as it informed the reorganization of schooling, curriculum and testing in the Province. Reform was therefore constructed out of a limited number of discourses with powerful consequences.
Watson, Katherine A., "The Modernization of British Columbia Schools: A Genealogical Interpretation of the Putman-Weir Survey" (2003). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1305.