A review of The Successful Teacher was published in Historical Studies in Education, Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring, 1989. Written by Duncan Urquhart, the review is re-printed below.
The Successful Teacher
D.B. McCowan, ed. The Successful Teacher, 1830-1988. Scarborough Historical Society, October 1988. A Collection of Anecdotes to Commemorate the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of Scarborough Village Public School, October 15, 1988. 23 pp., 7 illus.
The Successful Teacher: 1830-1988 is a historical publication that came about by accident. As editor D.B. McCowan acknowledges in his opening remarks, although plans had originally been made to publish in mid-1989 a serious volume devoted to education in Scarborough Village to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Scarborough Village Public School, a reunion at the school necessitated the early release of some sort of work on the subject. Therefore, instead of a scholarly treatise, McCowan has brought together a collection of primary sources on education in Scarborough, supplemented by a number of short essays. While this publication may have come about by accident, the result is nonetheless quite good.
The Successful Teacher covers a wide range of topics, mostly dealing with the personal side of educational history in Scarborough. Thus readers learn, for example, how much education was valued in Scarborough between 1830 and 1860, the crude nature of early school architecture, and the annual highlights in a given school to which students could look forward. And because the works are largely primary source documents, the biases of the authors make for lively reading. In the chief essay, readers can learn what qualities are considered necessary to be a successful teacher through the well-articulated words of S.G. Blanchard. Of course, the characteristic Victorian diction sometimes makes for an excess of articulation, as in the pen of one contributor to the Markham Economist, who in his description of the union picnic of 1876 notes the "truly sylvan scene" in which "about 3,000 partook on the leafy sward beneath the broad spreading branches of the noble monarchs of the forest."
For those of us who enjoy researching local history, and in particular educational history, a collection of primary sources is sometimes preferable to a series of monographs. Those unaccustomed to primary source examination will undoubtedly find this booklet a refreshing opportunity to involve themselves more fully in the interpretation of history. Overall, with its abundant endnotes, this publication provides a well-rounded glimpse into the education history of Scarborough. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly because very little has been written of the personal nature of educational history in Ontario, The Successful Teacher constitutes a valuable contribution to this neglected field.
(Reprinted from Historical Studies in Education, Vol. 1 #1)
The Scarboro Heights Record V10 #3