Study Document

Teaching Profession in Canada and Thesis

Pages:10 (2886 words)




Document Type:Thesis


Authority from outside the schools increasingly became that which structured the school systems and there was an increase in the "competitive examination of pupils and teachers alike. Prentice and Theobald states that an analysis conducted by Martin Law of a British school teacher's diary during that was kept during World War II demonstrates how the workload of a woman teacher increased during such as crisis and how the "..extra responsibilities also brought a measure of additional power to the teacher in question, as she and her community responded to national priorities and demands. But local authorities were quick to reduce that power when it was no longer backed up by a national agenda at the war's end." (Prentice and Theobald, 1991)

Prentice and Theobald relate that there was general confusion concerning the social position and identity of the occupation of teacher. Elementary school teachers were largely women and this was "at the core of confusion about the social position and identity of the occupation. Just as they occupied a middle ground between professional and industrial workers, women teachers were torn between the image of true womanhood and their position as paid members of the labor force." (Prentice and Theobald, 1991) According to Prentice and Theobald "supportive as the feminist movement was to the teachers who organized in Canada, it does not appear to have provided a genuinely alternative vision of the woman teacher's role in society or in the labor force." (Prentice and Theobald, 1991)

Contained in the work of Prentice and Theobald is the writings of Joyce Senders Pedersen entitled: "Schoolmistresses and Headmistresses: Elite and Education in Nineteenth-Century England" which relates that the accounting of "real-life ladies who kept fashionable private schools in the early nineteenth century are...difficult to come by. A handful of biographies and autobiographies of such schoolmistresses exist, and they figure now and then in studies of eminent women who happened to attend their schools." (Prentice and Theobald, 1991) Pedersen states that the only attempt at a systematic survey of the conditions of early schoolmistresses is that conducted by the Taunton Commission, a report that was issued in 1867-8 in England. Mid-century it is stated that as the movement to establish colleges and public schools for females was occurring "a new category of female teacher appeared -- the public school headmistress." (Prentice and Theobald, 1991)

VII. Academic Attainment of Teachers Becomes an Important Issue

It is related that as the century moved forward and as education at colleges became a requirement for gaining a public school post of a desirable nature, "the teacher's own academic achievements increasingly became a matter of public record." (Prentice and Theobald, 1991) the differences in the private and public headmistresses is stated by Pedersen and includes the following differences:

(1) the private schoolmistress aspired to a leisured amateur role in a secluded quasi-domestic setting, the public school heads aimed rather to secure professional recognition and sought distinction in the public sphere;

(2) the objective of private schoolmistresses was that of grooming pupils for a largely leisured role suited to a private setting however, the public school heads...considered themselves professional people and placed more emphasis on academic achievement." (Prentice and Theobald, 1991)

That which these two types of teachers had in common was that of aspiring to elite status "desiring to dissociate themselves from the mass of middle classes." (Prentice and Theobald, 1991)

VIII. The IODE and the Schools in Canada between 1900 to 1945

Nancy M. Sheehan writes in the work entitled: "Philosophy, Pedagogy, and Practice: The IODE and the Schools in Canada, 1900-1945" that the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE) took to heart the vision of Empire expressed by Frederick George Scott, a vision not only imperialist and racists, but also by today's standards, class biased, sexist and patriarchal. A closer look at the patriotic educational philosophy, pedagogy, and practice of the Order may help us to better understand the Canadian society of the time and the role of women in it, and, in general, the complex interplay of class, race, and gender within the context of schooling." (Sheehan, 1991)

The IODE held a great interest in the schools and in promoting the education of school children and involvement of their families in their schooling. The IODE's interest in schools was simultaneous to the new education movement. The Minister of Education for Ontario is stated to have endorsed "a national patriotic scheme of education" and the IODE is stated to have "immediately began to suggest programs for the day, offer prizes for 'imperial' activity to be presented at the ceremony (Empire Day) and volunteer its members to address schools and provide them with 'Empire Day' materials." (Sheehan, 1991)

The new education movement is stated to have "introduced and advocated changes in methodology as well as content. It emphasized teaching the whole child using a variety of resources, of which the IODE supplied many." (Sheehan, 1991) Textbooks of the day "promoted a dual loyalty -- to Canada and to Britain." (Sheehan, 1991) the educational work of the IODE is stated by Sheehan to have been the promotion and enhancement of "established government policy, a policy heartily approved by school officials." (Sheehan, 1991)

IX. Report of a Survey/Questionnaire of Experiences of Women Teachers

The work of Mary Kinnear entitled: "In subordination: Professional Women 1870-1970" states that so few were the women professionals who trusted anyone to publish their life stories that the literature in this area of study was little available. Kinnear reports conducting a survey by interview and questionnaire with in excess of 200 individuals in a study that examines the experiences of women in a Canadian province prior to 1970 and in five professional occupations. Nursing and teaching school as occupations are stated by Kinnear to have been lacking in "the self-possession enjoyed by physicians and lawyers." (1995) Kinnear states that ideas surrounding the proper place of women in society as well as in the family, workplace and public life "generally were as much a part of the culture breathed by women who wanted to enter the professions as were shiny modern notions of self-support, a career open to talents, and meritocratic efficiency." (Kinnear, 1995) There were few "institutions or conventions of any sort that were unaffected by gender." (Kinnear, 1995) the gendered nature of a profession is stated in the work of Kinnear to be particularly evident in "common assumptions, outlined in sociological treatises, regarding a career ladder. A professional was supposed to be ambitious and single-minded, committed to service and to his work, even, if necessary at the expense of normal working behavior." (Kinnear, 1995) it was viewed as being utterly unrealistic to imbue a woman with training, education and investment of time, mentoring and effort since the single woman could be reasonably expected to be of no professional use until after her childbearing years had ended.

Kinnear writes that women "understood these conventions as well as men. The history of women in the professions is partly the story of how the conventions were challenged, reinforced, and subverted." (Kinnear, 1995) in some cases the conventions were maintained however, other were reformed. In Manitoba in 1928 the first school for girls was opened by Angelique and Marguerite Nolin. The emphasis of these schools was that of the social graces and skills that were elementary in nature. In 1882 the Manitoba Normal School teachers training program was established by the provincial government.


As noted in this work that which seems to have stifled the professional development of women as teachers in Canada and in other countries historically is that of "socially constructed, patriarchical ideologies that as stated in the work of Bird (2007) effectively "elevate men into positions of power over women." As women begin to integrate into the workforce many changes took place in the structure of the school systems and in the definition of the teaching profession and not only in Canada but throughout the world as well.


Bird, Amanda (2007) the Under Representation of Women in a "Feminized Profession": gender stereotyping, management politics, and the dissemination of information Dalhousie Journal of Information and Management, volume 3, number 1 (Winter 2007)

Giguere, Denys (1999) Gender Gap Widening Among Ontario Teachers.…

Sample Source(s) Used


Bird, Amanda (2007) the Under Representation of Women in a "Feminized Profession": gender stereotyping, management politics, and the dissemination of information Dalhousie Journal of Information and Management, volume 3, number 1 (Winter 2007)

Giguere, Denys (1999) Gender Gap Widening Among Ontario Teachers. Professionally Speaking. June 1999. Online available at:

Kinnear, Mary (1995) "In subordination: Professional Women 1870-1970" McGill-Queen's Press -- MQUP, 1995.

Prentice, Allison and Theobald, Marjorie R. (1991) Women who Taught, Perspectives on the History of Women and Teaching"

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