Chaire UNESCO d’étude des fondements philosophique de la justice et de la société démocratique | UQAM
4 novembre 2009

The Parent Report and the teaching of philosophy in Quebec’s cégeps

Charles de Mestral, Ph.D

The Parent Report and the teaching of philosophy in Quebec’s cégeps By Charles de Mestral, Ph.D. - presented at Kwansei Gakuin University (Uegahara, Nishinomiya, Hyogo, Japan) November, 2009.

1. Introduction

The teaching of Philosophy as an obligatory subject in Québec province’s intermediate level colleges (known by the inelegant French language acronym cégeps), although equivalent teaching does exist in some European countries, is perhaps unique in North America. It is an example of the distinctive cultural features of Canada’s French-speaking Québec province. It is also an example of the cultural value of teaching philosophy at the transitional level between secondary schools and university. In this context, philosophy as a discipline has developed a particular style, close to its Socratic origins. This teaching began with the opening of the first cégeps in 1967, on the recommendation, dating from 1965, of the Report of the royal commission of enquiry on education. This important document was popularly to be known as the Parent Report, named after its chairman, Alphonse-Marie Parent, professor of philosophy at Laval University in Québec City.

2. Fields of study
Although philosophy teaching in this context has been the object of several partial studies, it has not as yet been the object many attempts at exhaustive analysis. This presentation is in the nature of an essay rather than of a research paper. Its purpose is to describe a potential field of study from the point of view of the author who participated in it for thirty-nine years from the beginning until his recent retirement. It could be of interest to students in several fields, firstly, to students of Canadian history and institutions, especially as related to the province of Québec. Secondly, it could be of interest to students in the field of public education as regards teaching of civics or general cultural education. Thirdly, it could be of interest to students of philosophy, to the extent that the discipline, in this particular context, is not primarily the object of specialized academic study, as at the university level, but is intended rather to broaden the citizen’s general culture. As such, it constitutes a specific form of philosophy teaching, appropriate to contemporary society.

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Hegel en débat. Monodialogue transatlantique en trois tempsThe First Assembly of the International Network of Women Philosophers sponsored by UNESCO, was held on December 14th and 15th 2009 in Paris, France.