Classrooms for Consumer Society: Practical Education and Secondary School Reform in Post-Second World War Canada
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Young people’s intersecting roles as students, workers, and shoppers have received little attention from historians, who have focused on young people as either students or workers. This paper begins to examine these roles by analyzing the efforts of the Canadian Education Association to define and promote practical education in the late 1940s. The Canadian Research Committee on Practical Education solicited industry and business perspectives and surveyed students that were leaving school before graduation. The committee’s work and the discussion it generated reveal a desire to make secondary schools more profitable and palatable for Canadian teenagers. Educators and industry leaders wanted the post-war high school to serve all young Canadians by catering to their interests, keeping them in school, and preparing them to be both workers and consumers upon graduation.