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Questioning the Classroom

Perspectives on Canadian Education

Dianne Gereluk, Christopher Martin, Trevor Norris and Bruce Maxwell

Questioning the Classroom is organized around key philosophical questions that engage students with major debates in Canadian education and highlight the practical implications for future educators. This thought-provoking introduction encourages students to develop a personally meaningful philosophy of education that they can take with them into classroom practice.

Readership : Questioning the Classroom: Perspectives on Canadian Education is an introduction to education text suitable for teacher-candidates interested in teaching every level of instruction (from kindergarten to high school).


  • "Questioning the Classroom makes accessible the arduous task of doing philosophy of education by providing instructors and teacher candidates with a language and activities that see them through the task of thinking philosophically about education."
    --Sarah J. DesRoches, Philosophical Inquiry in Education
  • "This book is current, accessible and thought provoking [...] While this book was specifically written for pre-service teachers, I cannot imagine any educator, trustee, politician, or parent who would not find it engaging, challenging and beneficial."
    --Bruce Beairsto, Education Canada
  • "This book asks some very critical and important questions about education and situates them within a Canadian context. Further, it broadens the definition of philosophy, which is encouraging and productive."
    --Theodore Christou, Queen's University
  • "This textbook deals with philosophical questions in education in a way that is at once thoughtful, relevant, accurate, and thorough. . . . This is a terrific new book."
    --David Waddington, Concordia University

Introduction: What's the Point?!
Part One: Why Should Children Be Educated?
1. What Are the Values and Aims of Education?
Terminology: Does Education Have a Purpose?
Education versus Schooling
Changing Models of Education
Step One: Knowledge and Understanding as an Aim of Education
Step Two: Reaction and Criticism
Step Three: Well-Being as an Aim of Education
2. Can We Educate for Canadian Identity?
What Is Civic Identity and What Is the Point of Educating for It?
Challenges to Education for Civic Identity
A Brief History of Citizenship Education in Canada
Part Two: How Should Children Be Educated?
3. What Are Our Main Conceptions of Education, Where Did They Originate, and How Do They Inform Our Current Practices?
Metaphors We Live By
Three Conceptions of Teaching and Learning
Educational Rationalism: Teaching and Learning as Building Knowledge
The Developmental Conception of Education: Learning as Growth
The Guidance Conception of Education: Learning as Insight and Discovery
4. Are Students Becoming Consumerist Learners?
Introduction: What Is Consumerism?
Types of School Commercialism
Civic Identity or Consumer Identity?
Private Gain or Public Good?
"Me, Inc."
Economistic Approaches to Education
Commodification of Knowledge
The Humanities and Economic Growth
Teacher Autonomy
Critical Thinking
Educational Risk and the Unexpected
Should Education Be "Easy"?
Part Three: What Should Children Learn?
5. What Should Be Taught on the Curriculum?
How Do Decision-Makers Decide What Should Be on the Curriculum?
Curriculum in Canada: A Look at the Past
Criticisms of What Is Taught on the Curriculum
The Changing Nature of What Should Be Taught in Schools
6. Should Teachers Teach Students about Controversial Subjects?
Controversial Subjects
What Is a Controversy?
What Difficulties Do Teachers Face in Teaching Controversial Issues in Schools?
How Can Teachers Navigate Controversial Issues with Dignity and Worth?
Part Four: Where Should Children Learn?
7. Place-Based Education and the Rural School Ethic
What is Place-Based Education?
Well-Being, the Individual, and Community
The Limits of Place-Based Education
8. Should School Choice Be Fostered in Public Education?
What Is "Choice"? How Do People Choose?
The Merits and Demerits of School Choice
Criticisms of School Choice Policies
Part 5: Who Should Control Education?
9. Should Cultural Restoration Be an Aim of Education? Justice, Reconciliation, and Aboriginal Education
Residential Schooling and Transitional Justice
Education for Canadian Identity Revisited
Residential Schooling and Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Who Should Control Aboriginal Education?
Education and Deliberative Democracy
10. Should Parents Decide How Children are Educated?
Parens Patriae
Arguments in Favour of Parental Rights
Arguments against Parental Rights
Part 6: What Is the Role of Teacher's Professional Identity?
11. To What Extent Do Teachers Have Professional Autonomy?
Why Is Autonomy Important for the Work That Professionals Do?
Is Teaching a Profession?
Legal Issues
12. Conclusion: Teaching for the Canadian Ethical Environment
Philosophical Perspective in the Practice of Teaching
Why Professional Self-Cultivation?
Professional Self-Cultivation and Reasoning about Values
Self-Cultivation and Teacher Education
Teaching for the Canadian Ethical Environment
Note: All chapters include:
- Introduction
- Conclusion
- Review Questions
- Further Readings

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

Dianne Gereluk is associate professor and associate dean of the undergraduate program in the Faculty of Education at the University of Calgary. Her research examines the parameters of cultural and religious accommodations in schools in liberal democracies. She is author of Education and Community (Continuum, 2006), Symbolic Clothing in Schools (Continuum, 2008), and Education, Extremism and Terrorism (Continuum, 2012).

Christopher Martin is assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. His research is focused on the role of public deliberation in the construction of the ethical and political foundations of educational policy and practice. He is the author of Education in a Post-Metaphysical World: Rethinking Educational Policy and Practice through Jurgen Habermas' Discourse Morality (Continuum, 2012) and R.S Peters: Continuum International Library of Educational Thought (Continuum, 2013, with Stefaan Cuypers).

Trevor Norris is associate professor in the Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education at Brock University. His research is focused on the political, philosophical, and pedagogical implications of consumerism on teaching and learning. He is author of Consuming Schools: Commercialism and the End of Politics (University of Toronto Press, 2011).

Bruce Maxwell is associate professor in the Department of Educational Sciences at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières. His research deals with contemporary ethical issues in education and schooling, moral psychology as it intersects with ethical decision making in work settings, and professional ethics in teaching. He is the author of a number of works on these topics including the book Professional Ethics Education: Studies in Compassionate Empathy (Springer, 2008).

Educational Foundations in Canada - Alan Edmunds, Jodi Nickel and Ken Badley
Case Studies in Educational Foundations - Shelley Hasinoff and David Mandzuk
Making Sense in Education - Margot Northey, Kristen Ferguson and Jon G. Bradley

Special Features

  • Canadian references and examples ensure that questions and approaches are relevant to pre-service teachers across the country.
  • Organized around six key issues, introducing education students to foundational debates and encouraging them to develop their own teaching philosophies.
  • Engaging case studies highlight controversies and ethical dilemmas that link theory with practical applications to the classroom.
  • Pause for Thought boxes pose critical thinking questions, inspiring teacher candidates to actively apply the material to the formation of their own teaching philosophies.
  • Standalone chapter on Aboriginal education includes coverage of the history and contemporary state of educational policy as it affects First Nations and Aboriginal peoples in Canada.