Putman-Weir Report, 1925: Programme of the Intermediate School

I: THE CURRICULUM OUGHT TO BE BROAD AND ELASTIC

Since every student does not require the same course of studies, the basic curriculum of English, history, geography, and elementary science must be supplemented by additional studies, such as handwork, in consideration of their immediate and future needs.

II: THE MIDDLE SCHOOL IS FOR ALL CHILDREN WHO ARE NOT SUBNORMAL

Entrance to the middle school between the ages of fifteen or fifteen and a half years shall not be decided by discriminatory tests. Instead each student shall start based on their age, and then progress according to their natural ability until the age of fifteen or sixteen years.

III: LOCAL CONDITIONS MAY MAKE IT NECESSARY TO COMBINE MIDDLE SCHOOL WITH ELEMENTARY OR WITH HIGH

Some towns and cities may find it profitable to have a middle school in a separate building and under different management from elementary or high school. Within the school itself, the departmental method, consisting of several specialized teachers replacing the single teacher should be used.

IV: THE ROTARY ORGANIZATION IN A MIDDLE SCHOOL

This method is to be used in response to economizing. It consists of dividing the student body into two equal groups of similar grades and course of study, so that the student should spend half of the day under one homeroom teacher, and the other half under three or four different teachers.

V: THE MIDDLE SCHOOL PROGRAMME MUST SUIT VARYING NEEDS OF PUPILS

Due to the individual growth of the student and their differentiating needs at this age, the curriculum of the middle school must provide optional school experiences that will be beneficial to their future.

VI: CONSIDERATION OF A TYPE PROGRAMME

The type of programme chosen for a school will be dependent upon the number of students and teachers within it. The previously mentioned rotary organization divides the school day into eight forty-minute recitations with four in the morning and four in the afternoon. The proposed programme will also affect the number and type of rooms and facilities within the school.

VII: CERTAIN BASIC SUBJECTS ARE FOR ALL

The curriculum should contain a core of basic subjects including arithmetic, English, geography, history, civics, hygiene, physical exercise, home economics (for girls), shop work (for boys), and supervised study periods that will be compulsory. This type of programme would provide options in three directions. The first was towards an academic high school, second was toward an immediate industrial vocation or technical or industrial high school, and the third toward an immediate commercial vocation or a commercial high school.

VIII: THE LENGTH OF THE SCHOOL DAY

The school day is to be three hundred and twenty minutes, or five and a half hours long, which includes the time for regular study, physical exercise, hand activities, library, supervised study, and auditorium work.

IX: THE VALUE OF MUSIC AND ART AS SCHOOL STUDIES

It is not only important to teach students how to manually perform these activities, but also to teach them an appreciation of the art forms. This is an important part of developing a distinct Canadian cultural identity. If possible the student should be provided training within the school, but if not, they might pursue it as an extracurricular activity and receive credit for it.

X: TRAINING FOR DUTIES OF A CITIZEN

Exercises such as auditorium work shall be used to teach students such skills as oral expression and public speaking, which are beneficial in all aspects of life. 'The success of this training depends upon the tact, wisdom, and breadth of view of the teacher in charge, and also upon the support given this teacher by the other members of the staff in discovering and organizing pupils' experiences and abilities around topics that naturally lend themselves to some form of expression.'

XI: THE VALUE OF A GOOD LIBRARY

The school system tends to attach too much importance to textbooks and too little to books in general, therefore a sufficient library must be established to provide the students with a chance to foster a taste for wide reading, and also to teach them how to get information from textbooks. The library makes some contribution to every phase of schoolwork and should include general literature, reference books, dictionaries, atlases, magazines, and newspapers.

XII: NATURE STUDY AND PHYSICAL EXERCISE: MILIARY TRAINING

Nature study should be based on observation, experimentation, outdoor study, and the project method, to prepare the student for courses in general science in further years. Physical exercise should occur everyday, for every pupil, utilizing such activities as organized games. It is recommended, when possible, for gender segregated classes, specifically with only females teaching girls. Having militia officers as instructors is discouraged.

XIII: ADVANTAGES OF MANUAL TRAINING & HOME ECONOMICS

Both manual training and home economics, introduced as protests against the bookish standards of education, had to meet and overcome opposition from at least two different quarters. These quarters said that education should be wholly idealistic and cultural, and that the programmes have no practical or cultural value, when, in fact, they do. Much of this criticism has come from those who got none of this instruction rather than from those who received it.

XIV: WHY HANDWORK SUBJECTS ARE NOT UNIVERSALLY POPULAR

Many parents still believe that school is a place where a child goes to study a book. They also seem to feel that, for the school to attempt to teach a boy how to use tools or a girl how to sew or make bread is to put shame upon the father and mother who are highly accomplished along these lines. Also, mistakes in implementation often occur from either lack of knowledge of educational principles or from the use of only expensive materials, which are unnecessary to success in these programmes.

XV: ORGANIZATION OF HANDWORK CLASSES IN BRITISH COLUMBIA In general, plan of class organization has been too costly. Equally good results can be had from 1.5 hour class as from a 3 hour class and the maximum use of the room and equipment by maximum number of pupils is achieved. Also, the theory of formal discipline is carried beyond all reason, while the correct theory, 'Learn to know by doing,' is ignored. Finally, the lack of adequate facilities and specialized teachers must be remedied.

XVI: A SPECIAL DIPLOMA FOR HANDWORK ACTIVITIES

A special diploma for handwork courses is justified while they are not part of the curriculum.

XVII: HANDWORK SHOULD BE FOR EVERY PUPIL IN AN ELEMENTARY OR MIDDLE SCHOOL

All pupils should receive handwork instruction with an aim to make real things rather than models. Thus, the normal schools should train teachers to provide a variety of handwork activities.

XVIII: LIFE PROBLEMS THE ESSENTIAL BASIS OF HANDWORK ACTIVITIES

When pupils enter middle school they should already have two years experience in handwork programmes. Therefore, in middle school, pupils should gain knowledge of both theory and practice, and should cover a broader field of work.

XIX: THE MIDDLE SCHOOL & VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE

Because of its involvement for nine years in the lives of students, the school has some responsibility for the child after the completion of middle school. As part of this, the province should establish a uniform card-index system as a record of achievement for each student that could follow the child during relocation. This system should contain information regarding the students' attendance, promotions, conduct, options taken, standing by subjects, interest in games, and special accomplishments. The school should also provide vocational advice through a vocational guidance bureau run under the Superintendent of Schools.

XX: HOW MIDDLE SCHOOL GRADUATES ADJUST THEMSELVES WHEN THEY ENTER A HIGH SCHOOL

The creation of a middle school system would make obsolete the use of highly objectionable entrance exams. It also determines the high school course of the pupil through intelligence tests, achievement tests, and ratings of character, ability, and temperament. It is assumed that, after middle school, the majority of pupils will choose courses best suited for their own development.

XXI: THE COST OF MIDDLE SCHOOLS

While the establishment of these schools will not decrease the amount being spent on education, it will lead to the elimination of great waste and will secure a larger educational value for each dollar spent.

XXII: THE MIDDLE SCHOOL IN TOWNS & CITIES IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

Small classes and consequent waste were characteristic. The consolidation of small classes would save teachers, and the implementation of physical education, elementary science, music etc. would furnish a more interesting programme.

XXIII: THE MIDDLE SCHOOL IN MORE POPULOUS RURAL COMMUNITIES

It would be most economical house middle and high schools together. Rural and urban children essentially alike in nature and needs, and because of this, the extent to which the environment of one group of kids differs from that of the other must be the measure of differentiation in the curriculum. Although the basic subjects English, history, mathematics, science, geography, health and physical exercise admit no compromise, the options available will be dependent upon teacher qualifications and accomplishments. The establishment of an efficient middle school should be possible in every city, every district municipality, and any rural school where two or more teachers are employed

XXIV: MIDDLE SCHOOL EDUCATION IN VERY SMALL RURAL SCHOOLS

The inadequacy of many one-teacher schools may be remedied by the provision of free middle and high school training at the expense of the government for all children in 'assisted' school areas. Without this plan, there are only two alternatives. One is the consolidation of 'assisted' schools into larger units, and the other is the improvement of the quality of the teachers assigned for duty.