Vol. 6 No. 1 (1996)

Education as Socialization: Form and Content in the Syllabus of Canadian Presbyterian Schools in Trinidad From the Late 19th Century

Brinsley Samaroo
The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus


  • Church and Education,
  • Presbyterian Schools,
  • East Indians,
  • Sociology of Education,
  • History of Education,
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • ...More


This paper seeks to examine the manner in which the Canadian missionaries to the Indian population in Trinidad sought to wean the minds of their wards away from, what they considered, Oriental heathenism and into the Western, Christian norm. This Presbyterian activity was motivated by the missionaries' genuinely held opinion that theirs was a sacred duty to bring non-Christians within the pale of their faith in orderr to create a better world. In this activity, the missionaries were fully supported by the colonial authorities since the plantocracy stood to benefit from the creation of a docile and hard-working Indian population following the example of gentle Jesus, meek and mild. Towards this end, the missionaries introduced a syllabus which stressed Christian values and drew heavily from the Canadian experience, complete with snow and ice, beavers and the healthy sport of tobogganing. The result was the socialization of generation after generation of East Indians into a Christian, Canadian ontology. The consequence of this socialization has been the migration to Canada of a considerable number of Trinidadians who were products of the Mission schools. These were not only Presbyterians or East Indians but a cross-section of the society who came from areas served by the Mission. For these people adjustment to the North had been facilitated by this Christian, Canadian socialization.