The curriculum of the Morley Indian Residential School, 1923-1958

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The study was designed to determine the nature of the Morley I. R. S. curriculum and the influence of progressive education on its curriculum during the period 1923-1958. Curriculum was defined as having four components, namely: purpose, content, learning activities and evaluation. A methodological framework was devised in which eight curriculum characteristics were identified as indicative of progressive education. These included an extension of educational opportunity, the development of junior high schools, the expansion of the curriculum, the emphasis on extra-curricular activity, the variation and flexibi­lity in the grouping of students, the development of class projects or Enterprises, a change in the materials of instruction and a change in the curriculum aim to the development of character and citizenship. The development of any of these progressive education aspects at the Morley I. Ro S. was noted. Moreover, a description of the environment of the curriculum was provided because it played a key role in the actual curriculum developments at the school. The primary source of data was government documents available at the Department of Indian Affairs and in the Public Archives of Canada. The curriculum descriptions were retrieved and reconstructed from information contained in archival files and a semi-closed school file containing reports on the school plant and on classroom instruction. It was a condition placed on the availability of the semi-closed file that specific comments on teachers would not be used in the study. In some periods, precise curriculum descriptions were not possible because of the lack of comprehensiveness of these reports on the nature of the curriculum taught at the school. The curriculum information contained in the sources could not be validated at this time by interviewing former students of the school, but a particularly important interview with a surviving teacher has been obtained. Local conditions were not conducive to the introduction of progressive education programs until about the mid-fifties. For a twenty-year period there were inadequate classroom facilities and very high classroom enrollmentso Residential accommodation was also inadequate, and this prevented many school-age children from attending school. Prior to the fifties, there were few instances when aspects of progressive education were present in the curriculum. Some student group work and the use of supplementary teaching aids in the early forties were perveived to be possible influences of educational progres­sivism. Most of the curriculum focused on the three Rs and some form of vocational training, which was offered under the half-day system. It was not until early 1951 that progressive education in the form of the Alberta Enterprise approach significantly influenced the Morley classroom curriculum. Later curriculum developments along progressive lines were the introduction of formal courses in domestic science and manual training, the establishment of a kindergarden and a change in the curriculum aim to development in citizenship. However, the classroom curriculum of the fifties was not always illustrative of progressive education as some instances of the traditional curriculum were identified. The punishment of children for the use of the mother tongue was interpreted as one such instance.
Bibliography: p. 133-138.
Tandy, J. D. (1980). The curriculum of the Morley Indian Residential School, 1923-1958 (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/18658