residential school

[ rez-i-den-shuhl skool, rez-i-den-shuhl skool ]
/ ˌrɛz ɪˈdɛn ʃəl ˌskul, ˈrɛz ɪˌdɛn ʃəl ˈskul /
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a boarding school, especially one for delinquent or disabled children or youth: They recommended placing our daughter in a residential school for troubled teens.
(formerly) one of a network of boarding schools in Canada for First Nation, Inuit, and Métis students, typically founded and operated by a church or religious order and eventually receiving partial or full funding by the federal government.Compare hostel school (def. 1).
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Origin of residential school

First recorded in 1875–80

historical usage of residential school

The term residential school seems transparent enough: a school incorporating a residence for its students, more commonly known as a boarding school . The main argument for such schools, which proliferated in the 19th century with the rapid growth of a professional and business class able to pay for them, has always been that they offer a continuous, integrated, and consistent learning environment: under the guidance of expert educators, students not only acquire knowledge and skills in class, but also develop the habits, values, and social relationships considered necessary for a successful and productive life in society.
A similar argument holds for students needing extra support for one reason or another, such as children having lost one or more parents, children with disabilities, or those with behavioral issues who have run afoul of the law: a residential school , whether operated by the government, a charitable organization, or a for-profit business, offers these students more attention and care than can be provided in a standard school day.
In Canada, this argument found dark expression in residential school s specifically for Indigenous children. Although some of these schools were established as early as the 1700s, it was mainly from the 1870s to the 1960s that they were formally advanced as an effective means of inculcating Indigenous children with Christian beliefs and European cultural values by removing them from their homes and communities and providing 24-hour instruction and training. These schools used a curriculum completely disconnected from the traditional Indigenous way of life and typically punished the use of Indigenous languages. Because the schools were often very far from the students’ homes, many children did not see their parents for years at a time, and some never. Moreover, abysmal conditions and rampant verbal, physical, and sexual abuse caused enormous suffering at many of the schools; thousands of children died (some buried in mass graves with their deaths unreported), and many survivors were scarred for life.
The system of residential schools wound down in the 1970s, and the last one finally closed in 1997. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission acknowledged that the operation of these schools had amounted to cultural genocide. The term residential school consequently has horrific associations in Canada, especially among Indigenous people, and is not used for other kinds of boarding schools.
hostel school s were a later phenomenon in Canada (mainly in the 1950s to 1970s); since they were fewer and confined to the far north, the term is less well-known. These were day schools attended also by non-Indigenous children, but Indigenous students were removed from their own communities and housed near the school in separate residences called hostel s, with the aim of forcing cultural assimilation.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use residential school in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for residential school

residential school

(in Canada) a boarding school maintained by the Canadian government for Indian and Inuit children from sparsely populated settlements
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012