Changing visions of excellence in ontario school policy: The cases of living and learning and for the love of learning

Educational Theory 61 (3):335-349 (2011)
Abstract
In this essay, Rosa Bruno-Jofré and George Hills examine two major Ontario policy documents: 1968's Living and Learning and 1994's For the Love of Learning. The purpose is, first, to gain insight into the uses of the term “excellence” in the context of discourse about educational aims and evaluation, and, second, to explore how these uses may have changed over time. Bruno-Jofré and Hills employ the conceptual framework developed by Madhu Prakash and Leonard Waks to elucidate the varied notions of excellence contained in the two reports. Bruno-Jofré and Hills argue that Living and Learning is an eclectic report that creates continuity by aligning itself with the pedagogically progressive tradition in Ontario; that propounds a holistic conception of excellence centered on the all-around development of the self; and that seeks simultaneously to secure a sense of being Canadian while dealing with rapidly emerging social fragmentation. For the Love of Learning, in contrast, attempts to combine a technical view of excellence in education (stressing various literacies and skills as measurable indicators) with the principles of caring and the goals of social responsibility. Each report can be seen as an attempt to respond to the expectations of a population that had become increasingly diverse in the interval between the two reports. What is cause for concern in terms of policymaking, Bruno-Jofré and Hills conclude, is the turn away from broader, more comprehensive and coherent views of excellence in education toward narrower and more fragmented accounts that are preoccupied with various types of literacy or loosely related vocational and other skills. The effect of this shift is to leave educational policy and practice in the schools essentially rudderless
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