Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2021-01-05

"Knowledge is Essential for Universal Progress but Fatal to Class Privilege": Working People and The Schools in Vancouver During The 1920s

Document type Article
Author Barman, Jean
Journal Labour / Le Travail
Volume 22
Date 1988 Fall
ISSN 0700-3862
Pages 9-66


Labor historians have characterized the 1920's as a time of working-class quiescence. The reality in the case of Vancouver was more complex. The workplace may have become quieter, but working people were not inert. Organized activity focused on the city's schools, not to overturn the system but to obtain fairer consideration for the children of working people. By opting for reform over class confrontation, working people allied themselves with like-minded, largely middle-class individuals equally concerned with educational reform. Considerable improvement of facilities resulted, despite active opposition by business interests concerned with immediate economic advantage. The consequence was that more children of working people, and more children generally, stayed in school a little longer.