The Study of History In the Public Schools of Saskatchewan 1885 to 1970: A Historical Survey of the Development and Growth of the Curriculum
Ward, Philip Kynaston
The problem of this research was to discover what was demanded of the pupils by the Provincial Department of Education through courses of study in the subject known as history, and to trace the development of the teaching of history in the Public Schools of Saskatchewan from 1885 to 1970. An analysis was made of official reports, courses of study, circulars, prescribed textbooks, and official examination papers. The data obtained were examined to determine course objectives, course content, concepts, principles and skills taught through the courses, student activities, and the evaluation of student progress. The following trends were noted. During the 1940's history was replaced by a new subject called social studies. However, as the social'studies course was developed it was noted that there was a trend back towards an emphasis upon the historical perspective, particularly at the high school level. Teaching students about morality and citizenship were noted to be two primary objectives throughout the period under review. There has been a trend away from teaching pupils how to make moral judgments about people to teaching them how to make judgments about issues and policies. During the whole period under review students have been expected to learn a body of factual content. In the curriculum of 1886 English and Canadian history were dominant. With the advent of the First and Second World Wars, and the growing importance of Canada as a world power, English history declined in importance and much more emphasis was placed upon world history, and particularly upon the history of the major European powers. After 1920 there was a tendency to place much greater emphasis upon recent events. Textbooks have been used extensively throughout the period'and have tended to dictate course content. There was an attempt to move away from the use of textbooks in the period of the 1940's which appears to have met with limited success. Recent practice has been for the Department of Education to suggest several possible textbooks for each course. There was increasing emphasis upon the concept of man in conflict with man as a result of the World Wars; the concept of man in conflict with his environment was included throughout. The economic principles of laissez-faire were gradually replaced by an increased emphasis upon the principles of co-operation. Basic skills taught throughout were collecting data and making judgments. During the first half of the period student activities were largely limited to reading the textbook and making extensive notes. In the years from 1941 to the early 1950's there was an attempt to encourage students to carry out projects and to solve social problems. The early course outlines contained no suggestions for student activities,'but in the past thirty years the elementary course outlines have tended to be a valuable source of suggestions. An analysis of examination questions revealed that as the sophistication of examination technique increased there was a slight decline in the demands made upon the students' cognitive processes. It would appear that examination questions have placed great stress upon cognitive rather than affective learning. In very recent times the Department of Education has begun to make use of machine scored tests. The trends expressed were based upon the evidence found in the analysis of the data which then suggested implications for further study in the form of problems which remain to be solved.