Manitoba History: Introduction: Education in Manitoba History

by Rosa Bruno-Jofre
Department of Education, University of Manitoba

and Tom Mitchell
Department of History, Brandon University

Number 36, Autumn/Winter 1998-1999

This article was published originally in Manitoba History by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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This issue of Manitoba History is devoted to the history of education in Manitoba. We have chosen citizenship as a central theme. One Hundred Years of History Teaching in Manitoba Schools Part 1: 1897-1927, by Professor Ken Osborne is the first of three essays. Manitoba History will publish the second and third essays in future issues. Osborne’s paper addresses the teaching of history, one of the central subjects employed by schooling in character formation and citizenship. Osborne argues that “an important goal of schooling was character development and citizenship, appropriately defined.” Accordingly, notes Osborne, it “followed that their reading should be directed towards instilling in them an ideal of conduct characterized by courage, bravery, honour, honesty, tenacity, justice, service, and other related virtues, which are often, and too easily, described as middle-class or bourgeois, but which can be defended on their merits, and were valued as much by liberals as by conservatives and traditionalists.” History was an ideal subject for such lessons.

Citizenship and Schooling in Manitoba, 1918-1945 by Rosa Bruno-Jofre explores the official discourse of Canadianization articulated by officials of the Manitoba Department of Education. Bruno-Jofre illustrates that young people developed a sense of being Canadians in their own terms through resistance, contestation, and negotiation. They developed various identities. The evidence suggests that the official discourse for Canadianization through public schooling was not necessarily taught and learned in schools.

The Education of Stanley Howard Knowles by Eleanor J. Stebner examines the educational context and experience of one of Canada’s most respected politicians. Stebner frames her analysis within a broadly biographical structure. In detailed examinations of Knowles’s intellectual formation, Stebner illustrates how discursive structures work to shape a person’s interpretation of reality and their intellectual commitments. This approach to biography provides an analytical framework suitable for exploring how formal education may influence the formation of a citizen, in this case of somebody who, as Stebner says, “worked so hard for those who had so little.”

Wrestling with Citizenship: A Review Article, by Tom Mitchell, closes the collection with the review of three recent books dealing broadly with the theme of citizenship. As Mitchell explains, Paul Axelrod’s fine synthesis of the contemporary historiography in The Promise of Schooling, Carolyn Strange and Tina Loo’s judicious and balanced synthesis of the growing literature on law and moral regulation in Making Good, and Jonathan Vance’s provocative and award winning examination of the memory of the Great War in Death So Noble—Memory, Meaning, and the First World War provides evidence of the vitality of Canadian historical writing about citizenship.

This issue includes a documentary section. In Granting “A Square Deal”: The Brandon Unemployed Worker and the Political Education of Brandon’s Jobless during the Great Depression, Donica Belisle provides an illuminating introduction followed by two facsimile editions of the publication of the Unemployed Workers Council in Brandon during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Finally, Sheila Andrich prepared a Bibliography of publications from the 1993-98 period on the history of education in Manitoba. As is customary with the Autumn/Winter issue of Manitoba History we have also included Manitoba Bibliography/97.

Students at St. Joseph’s Academy, circa 1905.
Source: Archives of Manitoba

Page revised: 13 October 2012