A Meeting of the People: School Boards and Protestant Communities in Quebec, 1801-1998
In A Meeting of the People Roderick MacLeod and Mary Anne Poutanen look at the Protestant public education system and the communities that established, and were served by, its schools, from the origins of public education in 1801 to the dissolution of confessional school boards in 1998. They focus on key issues such as class, ethnicity, religion, gender, health and welfare, patriotism, and the nature of local administration, bringing to life the people who attempted to establish and maintain schools and considering relationships between school trustees, parents, teachers, and the wider public. Their analysis shows that communities recognized the importance of providing schooling, despite what were often bleak circumstances. The authors show that Protestant families often had to make a difficult choice between supporting better educational facilities in a central place far away or encouraging the survival of the local community through maintaining one of its key institutions, the local school. They explore the ambiguous nature of Protestant education, at times understood as schooling reserved for a religious minority and at others as a liberal approach similar to public schooling across North America. The Protestant community, begun as a British element within a small colony, has developed into a diverse array of people from across the religious spectrum, periodically redefining itself to meet the needs of a changing Quebec society.
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