A Class by Themselves?: The Origins of Special Education in Toronto and Beyond

A Class by Themselves?: The Origins of Special Education in Toronto and Beyond

by Jason Ellis


$73.12 $80.00 Save 9% Current price is $73.12, Original price is $80. You Save 9%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
4 New & Used Starting at $74.15


In A Class by Themselves?, Jason Ellis provides an erudite and balanced history of special needs education, an early twentieth century educational innovation that continues to polarize school communities across Canada, the United States, and beyond.

Ellis situates the evolution of this educational innovation in its proper historical context to explore the rise of intelligence testing, the decline of child labour and rise of vocational guidance, emerging trends in mental hygiene and child psychology, and the implementation of a new progressive curriculum. At the core of this study are the students. This book is the first to draw deeply on rich archival sources, including 1000 pupil records of young people with learning difficulties, who attended public schools between 1918 and 1945. Ellis uses these records to retell individual stories that illuminate how disability filtered down through the school system’s many nooks and crannies to mark disabled students as different from (and often inferior to) other school children. A Class by Themselves? sheds new light on these and other issues by bringing special education’s curious past to bear on its constantly contested present.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442637115
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Publication date: 02/22/2019
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.25(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jason Ellis is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia.

Table of Contents


1 Eugenics Goes to School and Other Strange Legacies: Auxiliary Education’s Entangled Reform Origins

2 “Inequalities of Children in Original Endowment”: iq Testing Transforms Auxiliary Education, 1919–30

3 Avoiding “Blunders and Stupid Mistakes”: Auxiliary Education for Adolescents, 1923–35

4 “A Mental Equality Where Physical Equality Has Been Denied”: Sight-Saving, Speech and Hearing, and Orthopaedic Classes, 1920–45

5 The “Remarkable Case of Mabel Helen”: Special-Subject Disabilities and Auxiliary Education, 1930–45

6 Changing Ideas in a Changing Environment: The Impact of Personality Adjustment and Child Guidance


Appendix A Pupil Record Cards

Appendix B Auxiliary Program Enrolments

What People are Saying About This

Kate Rousmaniere

"A Class by Themselves offers insights about social, moral, and educational reform across Canada and other Anglo American countries. Smoothly written and beautifully organized, Jason Ellis draws on the most up-to-date research and theoretical approaches from disability history and disability studies."

Robert Osgood

"A Class by Themselves is multifaceted and addresses key questions in the field of the history of special education in public schools. The books’ heart lies in the vast display of local primary documents that do what all good history should do — bring the period back to life."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews