In his writing, Paul Axelrod is an expert at interweaving fact with theory. In The Promise of Schooling, Axelrod's views can be clearly seen, but are crafted in such a way that they do not seem predominant. The inferences he draws out of the facts, and the conclusions that were made, were clear and precise because of his excellent descriptive ability. Axelrod's goal in this paper is to draw out the fundamental reason of why schooling was provided and what nationalistic purposes schooling serve, such as the accommodation to the Industrial Revolution.
This study contends that the traditional account of the development of schooling in Canada is not so much incorrect as it is incomplete. The growth of public schooling should be understood, not only as the product of individual accounts, but also as the result of social and economic changes that were sweeping through the nineteenth century Canadian society.
The Industrial Revolution played a key role in the growth of schooling, due to the necessity of educated workers.
The Promise of Schooling is a chronological chart of development for the schooling system in Eastern and Central Canada. It attempts to describe and account for major developments in the history of Canadian schooling to the beginning of the First World War. It raises and seeks to answer a number of questions. For instance:
How extensive was schooling in the early 1800s? What went on inside the Canadian classroom? How did schools address the needs of Native students, African Americans, and the children of immigrants? As well as, what cultural and social roles did the universities serve by the beginning of the 1900s? (p.viii)
Axelrod does an effective job of pulling out themes and trends that characterize the country as a whole, and that allow meaningful generalizations about Canadian education. This...