NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Back to results
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1208810
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2019
Pages: 20
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0362-6784
Imagining Institutions of Man: Constructions of the Human in the Foundations of Ontario Public Schooling Curriculum
Knight, Hunter
Curriculum Inquiry, v49 n1 p90-109 2019
In this essay, I analyse Egerton Ryerson's proposed curriculum for the first state-led mass public educational system in Ontario. Egerton Ryerson, Chief Superintendent of Schools in Upper Canada during the wide-scale proliferation of state schooling across Turtle Island, produced proposals for "universal" common schools, as well as proposals for residential schools for Indigenous students, segregated schooling for Black students and institutionalized schooling for disabled students and lower-class students. Following the work of Sylvia Wynter, I argue that these proposals within a supposedly universal system were not contradictory, but an organic production of Ryerson's educational philosophy. Ryerson's vision is organized by what Wynter terms Man, a representation for a story of the human that is overrepresented as the human itself. Through this story, claims of universal humanity are produced through the manifestation of categories of difference. In exploring how Ryerson's universalism is structured by this understanding of what it means to be human, we see how his writings on curriculum for his common schools presage his future proposals for the violent exclusion of those who are excluded from the category of Man. Ryerson's writings suggest that Ontario curriculum is historically founded in colonialism and imperialism (which construct the category of Man and its overrepresentation), with further implications for curricula throughout Turtle Island. This analysis points to how efforts to reform curriculum of its racist, ableist and classist roots need to rethink the very story of what it means to be human, which is wrapped up in the foundations of public education.
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 530 Walnut Street Suite 850, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Tel: 215-625-8900; Fax: 215-207-0050; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada