Marching Orders: A Memoir
Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.
Educators and Ontario politicians may recall the Hall–Dennis Report,
the product of a 1960s government initiative to fix Ontario’s
education system. It was a milestone in shaping the direction of
education in Ontario, and for a time gave its co-author, Lloyd Dennis, a
well-deserved measure of fame: by influencing educational systems, one
influences the future of the country. Thirty years after that report,
Dennis presents us with a two-volume review of his childhood and career.
Unfortunately, the author’s self-importance ruins the tone of the
work. It is clear that he really admires his own accomplishments and
sees himself as deserving more than a brief moment in history’s
limelight. He expects the reader to be impressed to the point of holding
him in awe. As Dennis sees it, the reader is the humble student and he
is again the all-powerful teacher, inspiring fear and admiration.
Volume 1, Marching Orders, with its verbal pictures of rural poverty in
the 1930s, is quite acceptable as autobiography, although it lacks spark
and color. It is an interesting, if uninspired, addition to the local
history collection for the Muskoka area of Ontario.
In style, both books are staid and slow-paced. This characteristic is
strongest in Volume 2, The Learning Circus, which repeats chunks from
Volume 1 and then resorts to quoting at length from government
documents. It contains details of writing and marketing the
Hall–Dennis Report and will therefore be welcomed by students
interested in an historical perspective on educational reform in