Hitting the Books: The Politics of Educational Retrenchment


276 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-920059-63-5
DDC 370'.971





Edited by Terry Wotherspoon
Reviewed by David Robinson

David Robinson is an economics professor at Laurentian University.


This is a collection of essays trying to be chapters in a book. The book
is “concerned with recapturing the critical edge to education”
during a period of cutbacks. The volume contains a good deal that is
interesting and some material that is important, but the writing is
often poor, there is no common theoretical framework, and authors too
often promise what they do not deliver.

As with any “catch” from an expedition to a used-book store, there
are interesting authors, some useful data, and a lot of ideas that you
wish you had time to put together properly. When Les Samuelson writes of
the neo-conservative sacrifice of youth, he doesn’t demonstrate a
conservative plot, but he makes the situation of youth painfully vivid.
Harley Dickenson argues that vocational training and competency-based
training may be deskilling labor (an important point), but he also
claims that human-capital theory implies education will eliminate
inequality (a silly suggestion). In a chapter supposedly dealing with
inequality and inequity, Bikkar S. Randhawa presents intriguing data on
early school-leaving in Saskatchewan, but doesn’t say much of interest
about equity. Although retrenchment is hardly central to their
arguments, Carol Morrell’s article (subtitled “Women in Science and
Women’s Studies at the University of Saskatchewan”) and Esther R.
Grogin’s description of how “mature, multiple role women” adapt to
the pressures of a university nursing program are well written and
interesting. Winona Stevenson and Darlene Lanceley provide revealing
overviews of the history of Indian education policy and of the
Post-Secondary Education Assistance Program for Indian Education. In the
end, however, most readers will conclude that the second-hand bookstore
would have been more fun than this volume.


“Hitting the Books: The Politics of Educational Retrenchment,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/11442.