Fall / Automne 2020
Articles

Encounters with Sexuality: The Management of Inappropriate Body Behaviour and Body Talk in Late Nineteenth-Century British Columbia Schools

Jean Barman
University of British Columbia
Published November 7, 2020
Keywords
  • British Columbia early public education,
  • children’s body talk,
  • late nineteenth-century schooling,
  • sexualization of school life,
  • student behaviour,
  • teacher behaviour
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How to Cite
Barman, Jean. 2020. “Encounters With Sexuality: The Management of Inappropriate Body Behaviour and Body Talk in Late Nineteenth-Century British Columbia Schools”. Historical Studies in Education / Revue d’histoire De l’éducation 32 (2). https://doi.org/10.32316/hse-rhe.v32i2.4877.

Abstract

Of all the issues that students, parents, teachers, and schools encounter, few are as difficult to manage as sexuality. We persist in believing that the body does not belong in the classroom except as an object of study or improvement. Inappropriate body behaviour and body talk with a sexual edge intimidates us, so much so that accounts tend to be oblique or non-existent. Their scarcity makes particularly valuable a set of records that survive from British Columbia in the late nineteenth century. Even though public education was then becoming centralized, a general unwillingness to face up to issues of sexuality caused almost all of the thirty allegations that were located in the superintendent of education’s correspondence to be resolved at the local level. The most frequent tactic used was parental boycott of the school. The allegations are divided between those against teachers and those against students. Regardless of who was implicated, the teacher was almost always caught in the middle and ended up resigning.