They travelled from as far away as New Zealand, some with three generations in tow. Six hundred alumni of the Institute of Child Study (ICS) gathered in late May to celebrate the school’s 75th anniversary.
Founded in 1925-26 by the University of Toronto and director William Blatz, a psychologist known in his day as the “anti-spanking doctor,” ICS combines education for young children with a teachers’ training program at the master’s level. It also houses the Dr. R.G.N. Laidlaw Research Centre, which studies child development. At the reunion, the CBC’s Stuart McLean, whose two sons attended the school, spoke of ICS’s sense of community.
Several past students shared anecdotes, including Val Ross (BA 1972 UC), a Globe and Mail editor who graduated from ICS in 1961. Ross loved the school so much that she sent her three children there, and was grateful for ICS’s sensitive disciplinary practices after her son Max and his pals kicked a girl who wanted to join the boys’ soccer team. They had to write a letter of apology and were required to coach Grade 1 students in soccer. “They redeemed themselves and felt in the end that they were not such bad guys after all,” says Ross.
According to Principal Elizabeth Morley (Dip Child. Ed. 1981), the school has made a lasting impression on many students because of its philosophy that secure children will achieve their full potential. “We work hard to know the child as an individual, to nurture self-esteem and to involve families,” she says.