Ontario’s Long-Term Censorship of Public School Textbooks Suggested by Two-Column Transcript

The “two-column transcript” technique may also called the “left column” tool and is a device for comparing publicly shared information with knowledge that  remains private. I first encountered the tool in Trent University undergraduate classes offered by Computer Studies Professor Stephen Regoczei.1 In business and management literature, the two-column transcript is traced to Chris Argyris and Donald Schön’s 1974 book Theory in Practice and was re-popularized by Peter Senge’s 1990 The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization.

Publicly shared speech is placed in the right-hand column. In the left hand column, the user fills in what was known but left unsaid. The technique can surface assumptions that may usually stay below the level of awareness. The text can be our own conversation, but isn’t necessarily. The left column is used to fill out what was thought and felt but not said.

In the included example, Ontario’s Ministry of Education’s public 1974 explanation of textbook evaluation is included in the right-hand column. The left-hand column fills in additional private details about textbook evaluation following examination of procedures from restricted Archives of Ontario record groups.

Using the tool to analyze somebody else’s language is a more presumptive exercise. But given enough knowledge of the speaker, intended audience and subject matter, the result can be used to think about how open the author was being and how they were managing the audience. The point of the exercise is to “get at the concepts behind the words,” as Professor Regoczei would remind.


  1. For additional opportunities in conceptual analysis, please consult Regoczei, Stephen and Hirst, Graeme. (1990). “The Meaning Triangle as a Tool for the Acquisition of Abstract, Conceptual KnowledgeInternational Journal of Man-Machine Studies. 33 (5): 505-520; Regoczei, Stephen and Hirst, Graeme. “Knowledge Acquisition as Knowledge Explication by Conceptual Analysis. Technical Report CSRI-205.” Toronto: Computer Systems Research Institute, 1988.