Foundations of Education


Introduces the 1968 Hall-Dennis Report.

Key Concepts

  • Hall-Dennis Report

Graded Tasks

  • prepare for your seminar this week

The Hall-Dennis Report

Released in 1968, the Hall-Dennis Report - officially titled "Living and Learning: The Report of the Provincial Committee on Aims and Objectives of Education in the Schools of Ontario" - is arguably the most famous government issued education report in Ontario's history.

That's because, unusual for a government education report, it espoused a sweeping progressive education philosophy which called for a more child-centred approach to teaching and learning in Ontario schools:

"The curriculum of the future must be child-oriented and must provide opportunities for choice within broadly defined limits."

The Hall-Dennis Report influenced education in Ontario throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. However, its influence waned after the conservative A Nation at Risk report (summarized in Week 8) was released in the United States in 1984.

Still, its proposals for education are still relevant, even in the 21st century.

Hall-Dennis Report Quotations

Below are a series of quotations from the 1968 Hall-Dennis Report () which speak directly to its progressive education/child-centred educational reform proposals for Ontario schools:

Quote 1: It must be recognized that there are many children who have special gifts in music or art or drama, but who have no particular interest in the sciences or mathematics or other academic disciplines...These children cannot be branded as failures by the fact that their talents lie in special areas rather than in the traditional disciplines.
Hall-Dennis Report (1968)
Quote 2: The atmosphere within the classroom must be positive and encouraging. The fixed positions of pupil and teacher, the insistence on silence, and the punitive approach must give way to a more relaxed teacher-pupil relationship which will encourage discussion, inquiry, and experimentation, and enhance the dignity of the individual.
Hall-Dennis Report (1968)
Quote 3: To ensure its continuity, a free society must develop and promote opportunities for science, philosophy, the humanities, and the fine arts to flourish side by side, strengthening and complementing each other in the search for truth. All aspects of learning must be given support, for great ideas are not the exclusive property of an intellectual elite. They can permeate the atmosphere of a free society, and can be grasped and acted upon by great numbers of people.
Hall-Dennis Report (1968)
Quote 4: We cannot build a society by looking solely to the past - to the record of what our history has shown us to be; for at any juncture in our history both past and future press equally upon us. Characteristic of our thinking today is our belief in the permanence of change. While in Ontario we do not attempt to 'escape' our history, we look to the future, realizing that, as Heraclitus said, "Life is perpetual motion and repose is death."
Hall-Dennis Report (1968)
Quote 5: We owe to children the freedom to explore the full range of their senses; to appreciate subtle differences; to be aware of beauty wherever it is to be found; to see, to touch, to smell, to hear, to taste, so that each in his own way will strive to find and express the meaning of man and human destiny. Perhaps, through aesthetic experience, he will find the virtue of harmony, of silence, of solitude, of quiet contemplation - the oasis in a world that makes man weary of noisy progress.
Hall-Dennis Report (1968)
Quote 6: The needs of the child are simply stated. Each and every one has the right to learn, to play, to laugh, to dream, to love, to dissent, to reach upward, and to be himself. Our children need to be treated as human beings - exquisite, complex, and elegant in their diversity. They must be made to feel that the world is waiting for their sunrise, and that their education heralds the rebirth of an 'Age of Wonder.' Then, surely, the children of tomorrow will be more flexible, more adventurous, more daring and courageous than we are, and better equipped to search for truth, each in his own way.
Hall-Dennis Report (1968)
Quote 7: Our quarrel is not with the fact that some things should be committed to memory, but that too often in the past such practices were meaningless and out of context, and were considered as the foundation of education. Data to be memorized or skills to be acquired should be evaluated in a total context in relationship to the needs of a child and the task at hand.
Hall-Dennis Report (1968)
Quote 8: Basically, the school's learning experiences are imposed, involuntary, and structured. The pupil becomes a captive audience from the day of entry. His hours are regulated; his movements in the building and within the classroom are controlled; his right to speak out freely is curtailed. He is subject to countless restrictions about the days to attend, hours to fill, when to talk, where to sit, length of teaching periods, and countless other rules.
Hall-Dennis Report (1968)
Quote 9: At school, the teacher is primarily responsible for the atmosphere of learning. For a teacher to express love to every child is a very complex demand and probably an unrealistic objective. However, all children will respond to a teacher who is genuinely interested, well-informed, kind, patient, and dependable.
Hall-Dennis Report (1968)
Quote 10: In too many schools, one sees teachers doing most of the talking. This has been the traditional method employed at schools and teachers' colleges. It was assumed that a special package of knowledge was presented at intervals by the teacher, ritualistically pumped into the children, drilled, and then tested to see whether the content had taken like a vaccination. The constant buzz of a teacher's voice to a tongue-tied captive audience was accepted as desirable practice. However, in the light of present-day experience, the lecture method, used alone to transmit the overwhelming amount of knowledge pouring out every day, is far too restricting.
Hall-Dennis Report (1968)
Quote 11: Despite the belief held by many adults that learning must be painful and serious, it is the joy and pleasure of play which often sets the stage for learning...Work and play areas are so closely interwoven in learning situations that it is often impossible to separate one from the other, and teachers aware of the learning process should not feel guilty about the fun and noisy atmosphere that may be engendered. There is nothing sinful about laughter, and serious, silent rooms are not necessarily working chambers for teaching.
Hall-Dennis Report (1968)
Quote 12: Rigid division of the curriculum into subjects tends to interrupt children's trains of thought and of interest and to hinder them from realizing the common elements in problem-solving. These are among the many reasons why most learning experiences, particularly in the early school years, should cut across the traditional subject divisions.
Hall-Dennis Report (1968)
Quote 13: As children mature, they should be capable of planning when to do work assigned to them and also have time in which to follow personal or group interests of their own choice.
Hall-Dennis Report (1968)
Quote 14: Schools are not factories, not even learning factories. Schools should provide the 'living room' - space and place for minds to grow in. The efficient administrative philosophy demonstrated in so many antiseptic, cold, uniform, box-like schools surrounded by asphalt play yards, will have to be given supplementary, ancillary status in future school planning; in their place more imaginative, flexible, beautiful learning centres should rise as testimonials to the greatness of man.
Hall-Dennis Report (1968)

Hall-Dennis Report Quotation Response

In preparation for your seminar this week, write out an answer to the following question. Your TA may call on you to share your answer in the seminar:
Q10.3: Choose one of the quotations on "The Hall-Dennis Report" topic page. Copy and paste the full quotation into your answer (enclose it in quotation marks). Then (in a new paragraph) respond to the quotation, indicating whether you agree or disagree with the quotation and why. (Answer Length: 150 - 250 words (including the quotation you are responding to) | Format: Sentences)
Potential Seminar Question