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"The Crown of Education:" Constructing National Identity in the Classrooms of Ontario, Canada and Victoria, Australia Open Access

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"The Crown of Education" compares educational policies in two important settler colonies of the British Empire, Canada and Australia, using these policies to analyze the evolution of national identity in these colonies in the tumultuous post-World War II era. Education offers a valuable, and underutilized, vehicle to discuss issues of national identity in settler societies because it was considered a crucial forum for producing the right kind of citizen, something that all concerned members of society had a vested interest in. For this project Ontario, Canada, and Victoria, Australia are used as representatives of the wider English-speaking communities in those countries. Using sources such as textbooks, curricula, minutes from educational committees and commissions, and other educational materials, I argue that Britishness, or a sense of imperial citizenship connecting white Anglo-Saxons across the British Empire, continued to be a crucial marker of national identity in both Australia and Canada well into the late 1960s. This identity took the form of Anglocentric historical narratives that privileged British historical actors and denigrated the historical significance of immigrant and aboriginal peoples. Educators also put in place a concrete system of religious education in order to defend the Protestant core of the Canadian and Australian national identity. These findings challenge our understanding of national identity in the settler colonies of the British Empire because they reveal the continued utility of Britishness in the postwar era.The study also shows, however, that racial assumptions crucial to the idea of British or Anglo-Saxon superiority came under rapid assault from numerous minority native, immigrant, and religious groups during the eventful 1960s. This was the result both of a dramatic surge in non-Anglo immigration as well as the all-too obvious collapse of British world preeminence following the debilitating Second World War. Through the lens of education, "The Crown of Education" follows these changes and the confused struggle to articulate a coherent national identity that followed. In many ways educators were stymied in this effort, and could never achieve a consensus identity as they had in the war years of the 1940s. My investigation shows how deeply Britain and the Empire continued to affect the colonies of white settlement well into the 1960s, and how the collapse of empire precipitated a massive, and only partially successful, search for identity that continues to challenge educators and policy-makers today. "The Crown of Education: Constructing National Identity in the Classrooms of Ontario, Canada and Victoria, Australia" compares educational policies in two important settler colonies of the British Empire, Canada and Australia, using these policies to analyze the evolution of national identity in the tumultuous post-World War II era. Education offers a valuable, and underutilized, vehicle to discuss issues of national identity in settler societies because it was considered a crucial forum for producing the right kind of citizen, something that all concerned members of society had a vested interest in. For this project Ontario, Canada, and Victoria, Australia are used as representatives of the wider English-speaking communities in those countries. Using sources such as textbooks, curricula, minutes from educational committees and commissions, and other educational materials, I argue that Britishness, or a sense of imperial citizenship connecting white Anglo-Saxons across the British Empire, continued to be a crucial marker of national identity in both Australia and Canada well into the late 1960s. This identity took the form of Anglo-centric historical narratives that privileged British historical actors and denigrated the historical significance of immigrant and aboriginal peoples. Educators also put in place a concrete system of religious education in order to defend the Protestant core of the Canadian and Australian national identity. These findings challenge our understanding of national identity in the settler colonies of the British Empire because they reveal the continued utility of Britishness in the postwar era.The study also shows that racial assumptions crucial to the idea of British or Anglo-Saxon superiority came under rapid assault from numerous minority native, immigrant, and religious groups during the eventful 1960s. This was the result both of a dramatic surge in non-Anglo immigration as well as the all-too obvious collapse of British world preeminence following the debilitating Second World War. Through the lens of education, "The Crown of Education" follows these changes and the confused struggle to articulate a coherent national identity that followed. In many ways educators were stymied in this effort, and could never achieve a consensus identity as they had in the war years of the 1940s. My investigation shows how deeply Britain and the Empire continued to affect the colonies of white settlement well into the 1960s, and how the collapse of empire precipitated a massive, and only partially successful, search for identity that continues to challenge educators and policy-makers today.

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