Science & Education

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 827–846 | Cite as

Shunning the Bird’s Eye View: General Science in the Schools of Ontario and Quebec

  • Michelle HoffmanEmail author


This paper considers the adoption of general science courses in two Canadian provinces, Ontario and Quebec, during the 1930s. In Ontario, a few science teachers had followed the early general science movements in the United States and Britain with interest. During the 1930s, several developments made the cross-disciplinary, applied thrust of general science particularly appealing to Ontario educationists. These developments included a new demand for vocational education, renewed reservations about pedagogical rationales based on transfer of training, and a growing professional divide between high school science teachers and university scientists. Around the same time, scientists in the Quebec’s French-language universities were engaged in a concerted campaign to expand the place of science in the province’s francophone secondary schools. The province’s prestigious classical colleges, which were the scientists’ principal target for reform, privileged an inductive view of science that had little in common with the applied, cross-disciplinary emphasis of the general science courses gaining support in English-speaking school systems. In 1934, however, a popular American general science textbook was adopted in a workers’ cooperative devoted to adult education. Comparing the fate of general science within these two education systems draws attention to the fact that general science made inroads in francophone Quebec but had little influence in public and private schools. In light of the growing support general science enjoyed elsewhere, we are led to explore why general science met with little overt interest by Quebec scientists pushing for school science reform during the 1930s.


Science Education Science Teacher Vocational Education Science Curriculum General Science 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. I would like to thank Josep Simon for his helpful suggestions on earlier versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Victoria CollegeUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.TorontoCanada

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