Fall / automne 2021

Revisiting the Progressive Education Debate: Ontario Schooling in the 1950s

Frank K. Clarke
Published November 5, 2021
  • Ontario,
  • Progressivism,
  • Traditionalism,
  • Postwar,
  • Pedagogy,
  • progressive education,
  • teachers,
  • teaching
  • ...More
How to Cite
Clarke, Frank K. 2021. “Revisiting the Progressive Education Debate: Ontario Schooling in the 1950s”. Historical Studies in Education / Revue d’histoire De l’éducation 33 (2). https://doi.org/10.32316/hse-rhe.v33i2.4899.


This paper explores the debate over progressive education in Ontario pedagogy during the 1950s and expands upon the work of previous scholars who argue that schooling in the 1950s was neither strictly traditional nor progressive but rather a blend of the two approaches. This study expands upon previous research by looking at various school boards in the province. Drawing upon original research from provincial and school board archives, as well as professional education journals, I conclude that although traditionalism was a common approach in Ontario education, the reality was that the 1950s were not as conservative as some scholars have argued, and that there was more nuance in pedagogy, with pockets of progressive experimentation throughout the province.