Chapter Two: The Structure of Canadian Schooling

2.14 Conclusion

Education’s “structure” consists of those more permanent sets of relationships of power that are formalized through laws, regulations, and policies, and that regulate the day-to-day operation of schools and school systems. While there is much that is relatively unchanging in these structures (as was suggested in our examination of the educational debates in Upper Canada in the mid-nineteenth century), there is also much that continues to change. Provincial government reforms, the contemporary struggle for Indigenous self-government, challenges over minority language rights, and the implications of economic globalization are each likely to require that we develop new relationships to meet the educational needs of a changing world. That these structures are neither necessarily permanent nor necessarily right, but rather a reflection of a particular set of interests expressed at a particular point in time, requires that we understand what those interests are. A central concern of this chapter was examining who exercises the power that defines the form of public schooling, and how this power is regulated and legitimated. What is clear in both a historical and contemporary context is that the “public” to whom public schools were held accountable has been a particularly exclusive group. It is to this question of the struggle for power ‒ the politics of public schooling ‒ that we turn in Chapter 3.


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