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17 Apr 2012

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The Riot in St. Léonard
On September 10, 1969, a brawl began between the French unilinguist Ligue pour l’intégration
scolaire and their opposing group
o The violence was widely deplored by commentators of all political persuasions, but
today, the St. Léonard riot is recognized as a turning point in Quebec history
It culminated in Bill 101
which makes French the language of public administration
imposes French language tests for admission to the professions
requires most businesses with more than 50 employees to operate
mainly in French
requires collective agreements to be drafted in French
ensured that in Quebec, children of immigrants would be required to
receive primary and secondary schooling in French
A year before the street violence erupted, the language of instruction in public schools had
emerged as a hotly contested issue
o Political commentators raised concerns that French was in demographic decline and
that francophones were at risk of becoming a minority in Montreal
In 1963, the St. Léonard school board had responded to an influx of new residents of Italian
descent by establishing the option of bilingual education
In 1968, the St. Léonard school board eliminated bilingual programs, setting off a cycle of
protests and counter-protests
Opinions on the wisdom and fairness of Bill 101 still vary
Schools are important institutions
o They teach students a common culture that forms a framework for social life
o Shape work, politics, and much else
o Sorts children into adult jobs and social classes
What makes schooling important and sometimes controversial is that schools are where
societies endow future generations with the key capacities of communication, coordination, and
economic productivity
Schools must create homogeneity out of diversity by instructing all students using a uniform
curriculum, and they sort students into paths that terminate in different social classes
o Homogeneity is achieved by enforcing common standards that serve as a cultural
common denominator
o Sorting favours students who develop the greatest facility in the common culture while
confining those of lesser skills to subordinate work roles and lower ranks in the class
To fully understand education, we must grasp its implications for other facets of social
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Mass Education: An Overview
The education system has displaced organized religion as the main purveyor of formal
The education system is second in importance only to the family as an agent of socialization
Universal mass education is a recent phenomenon and is limited to relatively wealthy countries
For most of history, families were chiefly responsible for socializing the young and training them
to perform adult roles
Uniform Socialization
Creating systems of education that had sufficient resources to include all children was a social
change of breathtaking scope
Replacing family and religious training with a centralized and rationalized system created strong
pressures towards uniformity and standardization
Diversity among families, regions, and religious traditions gradually gave way to homogenized
indoctrination into a common culture
In the 19th century, Canada was an exception because the provinces recognized separate school
systems for Catholics and Protestants
Today, postsecondary institutions make no such distinction in admissions or curricula
o Lack of recognition of distinct religious tracks was among the key pressures that forced
secondary schools to cover the same topics in the same fashion to prepare their
students for more advanced training
Surrendering children to state control was not universally popular, at least at first
o Some students preferred skipping class, and truant officers were charged with tracking
down absentees, who were then punished
o Effective mass education was achieved only through laws that made attendance
Rising Levels of Education
The amount of education that people receive has risen steadily, and this trend shows no sign of
Hopes for children to undertake education beyond high school reflect growing recognition of
certain barriersfinancial, motivational, and academic performancethat limit how far some
students can go
Postsecondary training is increasingly widespread because education is the most visible option
for improving employment opportunities
Sociologists distinguish educational attainment from educational achievement
o Educational achievement: the learning or skill that an individual acquires and at least in
principle it is what grades reflect
o Educational attainment: the number of years of schooling completed or, for higher
levels, certificates and degrees earned
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Individual Advantages and Disadvantages
Higher educational attainment is effective for securing more employment and higher earnings
o Lower rates of unemployment were associated with more education
o Unemployment rates for those who did not finish high school were more than twice the
level faced by holders of a bachelor’s degree
Education enhances earnings prospects
o The odds of earning high pay steadily improve as educational attainment increases
The Rise of Mass Schooling
Sociologists highlight 4 factors that accounted for the spread of mass schooling:
o The development of the printing press that led to inexpensive book production
In 1436, Johann Gutenberg introduced the printing press with moveable type to
Led to a dramatic fall in price and an explosion in numbers
Many of the new printed books were in the vernacularlanguages used
every day by common folkand not in the Latin that only scholars
Literacy spread beyond elite circles as inexpensive books fostered demand for
schools to teach children the useful art of reading
o The Protestant Reformation
The education of priests of the Catholic Church was a primary motivation for the
foundation of European universities in the Middle Ages
In the early 16th century, Martin Luther began to criticize the Catholic Church
Protestantism grew out of his criticisms
o Protestants believed that the Bible alone should guide
o Accordingly, Protestants needed to be able to read the
scriptures for themselves
Thus, the rise of Protestantism was a spur to popular
o The spread of democracy
The rise of political democracy led to free education for all children
Where local populations acquired the democratic means to tax themselves, tax-
supported schools arose
o Industrialism
Mass Schooling and National Wealth
The most important reason for the rise of mass schooling was industrialization
o Mass education was widely recognized as an absolute necessity for creating an
industrial economy
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