Academic Versus Vocational Education

Historic educational ideals in Canada, contrasted to the United States, have been more elitist, with an emphasis on training church and political elites along British lines. In 1960, for example 9.2 percent of Canadians aged 20 to 24 were enrolled in higher education, compared to 30.2 percent in the United States. Even at the secondary level, enrollments were higher in the United States. Furthermore, the United States has long led in vocational, technical and professional education, while the Canadian schools resist their inclusion. According to research by Lawrence Downey:

Canadians, as a group, assigned considerably higher priority than did Americans to knowledge, scholarly attitudes, creative skills, aesthetic appreciation, and morality , as outcomes of schooling. Americans emphasized physical development, citizenship, patriotism, social skills, and family living much more than did Canadians.

Ivor F. Goodson and Ian R. Dowbiggin have explored the battle over vocational education in London, Ontario, in the 1900-1930 era, a time when American cities were rapidly expanding their vocational offerings. The London Technical and Commercial High School came under heavy attack from the city's social and business elite, which saw the school as a threat to the budget of the city's only academic high school, London Collegiate Institute.