UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The development of national radio education in Canada, 1929-1949 Morrison, Terrence Robert


Radio broadcasting, from its inception, was recognized as a medium with educational possibilities. The decision of the Privy Council in 1931 to vest control of broadcasting in the federal government, therefore, invited Dominion participation in radio education. With the establishment of the CBC, and the implication that it was to develop radio's educational potential, the possibility of having national radio education became more real. National radio education developed in response to four general forces. First, as the depression closed, the CBC was able to stabilize its financial situation, evolve a policy on controversial programming, establish co-operative relations with certain voluntary educational associations, and sponsor a national investigation into school broadcasting. Second, the arrival of the Second World War created a fervent nationalistic feeling and provided the conditions for an increase in the power of the federal government. The result was an interventionist-nationalist policy, on the part of the Dominion Government, which found cultural expression in national radio education schemes, such as "Young Canada Listens" and "Farm Radio Forum." The third force involved in the development of national radio education was related to a general programme shift in Canadian broadcasting from light entertainment to a more serious fare. Besides the use of more abstract content, this programme shift was characterized by the creation of radio programmes to suit specific audience groups, various attempts to overcome the passivity of the radio audience and the use of the radio as a medium for artistic and creative expression. The growth of national radio education in the early 1940's both reflected this general programme shift and provided another channel within which it could be conveyed. Finally, national radio education developed because of a desire, on the part of provincial educational authorities, to co-operate with a federal agency, the CBC, in the production of educational broadcasts. This desire to co-operate stemmed, in part, from a renewed sense of confidence in the national broadcasting authority and a wish to secure the educational benefits presented by the radio. Co-operation was achieved eventually on three levels of radio education - inter-provincial, Dominion-Provincial and international. The fruits of such co-operation in educational broadcasting were programmes, such as "Young Canada Listens," "Kindergarten of the Air," "National Farm Radio Forum," "Sports College" and "National Citizen's Forum." The CBC emerged from the 1940's as a national clearing house for Canadian education. Through its radio broadcasts, publications, and co-operative relations with provincial and voluntary educational organizations, the Corporation helped to provide Canadians with a national educational experience. The CBC also provided the Canadian Government with a useful instrument in international radio education affairs. Radio's role in education also became firmly established in the 1940’s. Broadcasting functioned as an educational aid and was to be integrated into the traditional learning situation. No new methodology or philosophy accompanied the radio into the classroom. True to an early prophecy, the radio had expanded the range of possible experiences available to the learner, but that was where its educational influence terminated.

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