By Roger Magnuson

The first precedence of French missionaries was once the conversion of the local inhabitants. schooling was once a tremendous instrument within the evangelization crusade simply because they believed that conversion used to be most sensible secured while preceded and underscored through non secular guide. As Canada developed right into a French colony the non secular orders more and more grew to become their recognition to the schooling of the youngsters of French settlers. The interval observed the institution of a few petites écoles (elementary schools), a Jesuit collage for boys, and a number of other exchange colleges. As Magnuson demonstrates, provision for schooling within the colony declined in the course of the eighteenth century. First, club in spiritual orders diminished, lowering their ability to serve the tutorial wishes of an increasing inhabitants. moment, because the inhabitants of the colony grew, with extra population born in Canada than in France, assorted values and priorities built. The written observe, notes Magnuson, held much less allure for the Canadian, who hottest the energetic lifetime of the frontier.

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In a culture in which the spoken word was paramount and memories constituted the chief repository of knowledge, speech and memory training was stressed. Both sexes were put to work reciting and memorizing the stories and legends of the tribe so that they might be preserved for posterity. 23 Of all field missions in seventeenth-century Canada, that of Huronia was by far the largest, to judge by the number of personnel committed and the resources poured into it. In 1634, Fathers Brebeuf, Daniel, and Davost set out from Quebec to Huron country, a collection of twenty or more villages at the base of Georgian Bay.

Chrestien Le Clercq, Recollet missionary and historian, developed a system of hieroglyphic writing to teach religion to the Micmacs of the Gaspe Peninsula in the 16705. He admitted that the idea came to him from watching the Indians make charcoal marks on birch bark to record the meaning of words and events. The use of charcoal as pen and bark as paper was not unique to the Micmacs; there are references in the Relations to this practice among the Montagnais and Abenakis. At any rate, the essence of Le Clercq's system was the drawing of characters on cards which represented one or several words, usually of a religious significance.

Designed as a pedagogical guide for teachers, it drew upon proven curricular and instructional practices. At first glance, the Ratio seems to have had little relevance to instructional activities in a wilderness empire, where the usual conditions of learning were nowhere to be seen. But the genius of the plan was not its rather formalistic framework and dry rules, it was its underlying spirit, which urged teachers to adapt their instruction to the character of the clientele and the demands of time and place.

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