Year of Publication

2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Education

Department

Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Angelo

Abstract

Traditional histories of Canadian education pursue an east/west perspective, with progress accompanying settlement westward from Ontario. This history of Saskatchewan education posits, instead, a north-south perspective, embracing the US cultural routes for the province’s educational development from 1905 until 1937. I emphasize the transplantation of US Midwestern and Plains culture to the province of Saskatchewan through cultural transfer of agrarian movements, political forms of revolt, and through adopting shared meanings of democracy and the relationship of the West relative to the East. Physiographic similarities between Saskatchewan and the American Plains fostered similar moralistic political cultures and largely identical solutions to identical problems.

This larger cultural transfer facilitated developments in Saskatchewan K-12 education that paralleled movements in the US milieu through appropriating into the province’s system of schooling American teachers into classrooms, American school textbooks, teacher training textbooks written in the US, and through the pursuit of American graduate training by Saskatchewan Normal School instructors. This resulted in the articulation in the US and Saskatchewan of a “rural school problem,” consolidation as its only solution, and the transplantation of a language of school reform identified by Herbert Kliebard as “social efficiency.” The invitation issued by the government of Saskatchewan in 1917 to an American expert on rural schooling, Harold Foght, to survey the province’s system of schooling and make recommendations for its reform, marked a high point in American influence in the province of Saskatchewan’s system of schooling.

In higher education the province’s sole university, the University of Saskatchewan, mirrored even more closely American Midwestern and Plains models. Essentially, the U of S was a transplanted version of the University of Wisconsin. Under the guidance of the University’s first President, Walter C. Murray, the “Wisconsin idea” permeated the practice and meaning of his University. His persistent pursuit of Carnegie Foundation financial support throughout his tenure meant Murray had to pattern his university after its American antecedents. Though Murray largely failed to gain substantial financial support for the U of S, the result was a university identical to many American land grant and public universities.

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