This paper compares the founding of the elementary school systems of Ireland and Ontario in the nineteenth century. The systems shared a common set of textbooks that had originated in Ireland. Using examples from a number of these books, which were part of a series that had been specially prepared for the Irish national school system, founded in 1831, and information from archive sources on policy and administration in both countries, the paper argues that there was a common, ‘universalist’, imperialist ideology being promulgated in both systems. The article focuses on these ‘universalist’ principles rather than undertaking a detailed analysis of the textbooks.
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