The Feller Inquiry

On September 28th, 1959, Dr Albert Lafrancois, Chairman of the Education Committee for the Grande Ligne Mission, asked these questions:

"1. Considering the Grande Ligne Educational Policy and the current operation of Feller; how well is Feller able to implement the Policy, and to what extent is the policy valid for the future?

2. Considering the long-standing conviction that Feller ought to be a completely bilingual school, with French language, atmosphere, and culture being given preference wherever possible,: how valid is this principle for the future?

3. In view of the opinions expressed concerning the above two points, what ought to be the future role of Feller?

4. On the basis of information provided re teaching staff, what recommendations can be offerred to eliminate haphazard methods of appointment, the rapid change-over of staff, and to ensure the selection of a staff which is adequately trained?

5. On the basis of a study of the administrative set-up of the school (chain of authority, delegation of staff responsibilities, maintenance responsibilities, etc.) what recommendations can be made to improve same?

6. On the basis of a study of the level of teaching at Feller as compared with the educational standards of the Protestant school board, what comments and recommendations would be helpful?

7. On the basis of a study of the living-in arrangements for the students, what are the strengths and weaknesses, and what - if anything - needs to be corrected?

8. On a basis of a study of the facilities and equipment, what immediate or long range changes or planning are considered necessary?

9. On a basis of a study of the financial structure of Feller, what recommendations ought to be made?

10. on the basis of a study of the responsibility of the mission for Feller (re committees, boards, etc.) how adequate is this administrative set-up?"

 

Dr L. C. Kitchen, Professor at McMaster, Head of the Field Work Department of the Divinity College, and Mr W. S. Mallory, M.A., science teacher and administrator, arrived at Feller on October 30th of that year and stayed for a week. What they observed became "The Feller Inquiry", a document which sheds much light on the state of the school at that time.

They began by stating the traditional policy of the Grande Ligne Mission: "to exercise a Canada-wide ministry for the evangelization of French Canadians, and for the building of an essentially indigenous French Canadian witness". And the purpose of the school: "to train preachers and evangelists for the Grande Ligne Mission work."

They look at Feller history, quoting Mr Meldrum: "Until 1902 the school was almost entirely French...In 1902 the school became bilingual." Mr Meldrum went on to propose more acceptance and financial support for the English chaaracter of the school as this would also benefit the French Canadians who would learn this necessary language. But he did ask the crucial question: "How much English can we admit to the school and still keep it bilingual?" Indeed the school was simply becoming more English and less bilingual. And during the 1950s it went from 50% French speaking pupils in 1950-51 down to 25% in 1959-60.

Statistically, Feller was neither producing French Canadian evengelists or functioning as a French school. In fact, Feller was now producing graduates who were not particularly religious and preferred to live and work in English.

They admitted that turning Feller back around would be an expensive proposition. And they chastized the Canadian Baptist Confederation for not financially supporting it. They illustrated the absurdity of this with a comparison with Bolivia, which has a similar population. In Quebec the Baptists were spending less than thirty per cent of what they were spending on Bolivia.

They reviewed each teacher in detail. Examples: "Mrs Broulliet is an example of a talented and gracious woman who posesses womanly attributes that influence her to wear suitable clothes with a careful use of matching accessories, which practice must influence the girls to wish to dress in good taste without a vulgar flaunting of extravagance."

"With patience and continued study Mr. Ostrum should develop into a good teacher."

In a grade nine English class with Francis Howard-Rose: "The incident was disturbing and quite disrupted the class and undoubtedly effected class morale. A note written by a boy to a girl in the class may have had something to do with this incident. Apparently this class was not giving the best cooperation to the teacher. Later it was learned that he had been given corporal punishment and reported to the Vice Principal as a last resort."

They discussed Feller's academic problems. From 1952-59, "The number of candidates who failed to obtain either High School Leaving or Junior matriculation was between 35% and 40% of those who wrote the provincial examinations. The year 1959 showed a failure rate of about 85%." They admitted that Feller standards were lower than those of the Province. "..many who were sucessful in the provincial examinations were from 10% to 17% lower than Feller's marks."

They criticized the way Religion was taught at Feller. They found it to be a learning of stories rather than an "experience" of moral and spritual lessons. They spend several pages on this. They believed that this should be one of Feller's major strengths.

They suggest that a Feller College Board of Governors be formed. To be separate from the Grande Ligne Mission's board of directors.

They call for "immediate improvement in the academic program." "Improvement of academic standards is, in our judgement, a vital factor in the future of the school on a par with the importance of the restoration of French emphasis."

On discipline: "Could not good work and good behaviour be rewarded by watching television programs."

They suggest higher salaries and more benefits for the teachers.

Conclusions

"..we regard the original purpose behind the establishment of the school as (1) partly valid and (2) partly in need of revision because of changing circumstances."

They conclude that the "umbrella" policy of sheltering young French speaking Quebecers in primary grades should be abandoned. They propose that Feller be solely a Secondary School (High School).

They suggest upgrading the building and equipment.

They call for more funding from the Baptist Confederation of Canada.