Settler schooling: Sean Carleton, Lessons in Legitimacy: Colonialism, Capitalism, and the Rise of State Schooling in British Columbia, UBC Press, 2022


Description: Between 1849 and 1930, colonial, provincial, and federal governments assumed greater responsibility for education in what is now British Columbia, using schooling as a strategy to catalyze and legitimize the development of a capitalist settler society. Lessons in Legitimacy brings the histories of different kinds of state schooling for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples – public schools, Indian Day Schools, and Indian Residential Schools – into one analytical frame. Schooling for Indigenous and non-Indigenous children and youth had distinct yet complementary functions in building British Columbia. Students were given lessons in legitimacy that normalized settler capitalism and the making of British Columbia, first as a British colony and then as Canada’s westernmost province. Sean Carleton combines insights from history, Indigenous studies, historical materialism, and political economy to present different histories of education for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples together. In the process, this important study reveals how an understanding of the historical uses of schooling can inform contemporary discussions about the role of education in reconciliation and improving Indigenous–settler relations. Historians, Indigenous studies scholars, and those in the field of education history will find this work illuminating, as will educators and general readers with an interest in schooling’s role in truth and reconciliation.

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