The textbook has long been the most popular instrument of instruction in the hands of educators. Its wide-spread use has at the same time provided one of the most controversial issues in education, for it has been regarded both as the cause of educational problems, and as their solution.
The purpose of this book is to investigate the changing policies which have affected the authorization of textbooks for elementary schools. Since Ontario sets precedents for the other provinces, it deals with tests in Ontario, from 1846 when the practice of authorization began, to 1950, when the system of authorizing a single text for each subject was terminated. It is concerned chiefly with the policies of the Ontario Department of Education which directed and controlled the selection, preparation, and authorization of textbooks. Between 1846 and 1950 texts for the elementary schools of the province were regulated by legislation which changed remarkably little. The purpose of this legislation was to provide for a supply of books at reasonable cost, to ensure uniformity in classroom instruction, and to counteract the influence of American textbook material. In 1945 a Royal Commission to study the educational system of Ontario was appointed; part of its task was to inquire into and report on the provincial educational system, including courses of study and textbooks. In 1950 the Commission produced its report; its recommendations, with a few modifications, became a part of the policy of the Department of Education by September that year. Authorization of single textbooks was discontinued and the policy of approved lists was adopted to the end of the tenth grade.
Miss Parvin here examines the textbook regulations in force at various times during the period from 1846 to 1950, and discusses the characteristics of several series of texts that have been used in the schools of the province. An extensive bibliography of Ontario school books is included. Her book will be valuable to everyone who is concerned with education, and with the history of education.