Creating an Environment that Supports Diversity

This post originally appeared on Teaching the Past

A couple of weeks ago I was discussing teaching Aboriginal history with a colleague.  We had both heard stories from some Aboriginal students who at some point in their education had heard their people discussed in the high school and university classroom in a derogatory manner. Aside from the sad news that racism is still alive and well in some of our classrooms, the person with whom I had a conversation – someone with much more teaching experience than I – emphasized that often these concerns are not directly addressed with the teacher and professor. Continue reading “Creating an Environment that Supports Diversity”

Teaching Early-Canadian History with Objects and Collections

This piece was originally posted to THEN/HiER’s blog ‘Teaching the Past

This month Kate Zankowicz, the editor of Teaching the Past, has asked all of the blog’s regular contributors to write about learning from objects and collections.  Over the past week I debated what I could contribute to this topic. I thought about drawing attention to Ian Mosby’s wonderful piece on about reading cookbooks as life stories, where he hints at using the cookbook as both text and artifact. I then considered sharing my most memorable experience with an artifact – if that’s the proper term – when I came across the finger nails, skin and hair from Alexander Taché, the first archbishop of Manitoba, in an otherwise non-descript box of documents in a Quebec archive.  But then, as I prepared for a class this week on Aboriginal responses to the arrival of Europeans, which draws heavily on the work of archaeologists, I realized that it might be helpful to use this post as an opportunity to consolidate and share some of the resources and collections that I have found useful in teaching early-Canadian history. Continue reading “Teaching Early-Canadian History with Objects and Collections”

Remembering, Forgetting and the Stories We Tell

This was originally posted on Teaching the Past

Last week, as I was writing a review of Adele Perry’s and Esyllt Jones’s recently released People’s Citizenship Guide, an article in The Washington Post caught my eye.

Afghanistan is about to launch a new public school history curriculum aimed at building peace and unity.  In an effort to build national unity, the new curriculum will only discuss events leading up to 1973.  Afghan students will not learn about the divisive subjects of Communism and the Soviet War, the Mujahedeen, the Taliban or the past decade of the American-led War on Terror.

As a historian, I generally disagree with attempts to avoid teaching controversial subjects. The high stakes involved in this decision, however, caused me to pause and reflect on the review exercise in which I was engaged.

The People’s Citizenship Guide is a direct response to the Government of Canada’s controversial Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship.  Jones and Perry’s book closely parallels the government guide.  It is about the same length, it addresses the same subject matter, and seeks to serve a similar purpose – informing Canadians (and soon-to-be Canadians) of the country’s past and present situation.  Continue reading “Remembering, Forgetting and the Stories We Tell”

Power and the Questions We Ask about History Education

This was originally posted on Teaching the Past.

Last month on this blog, Samantha Cutrara asked a challenging question that gets to the fundamentals of history education.  Who, she asks, is history education for?  This question is more complex than it seems, because, depending on the answer, it has a variety of implications for historians and history educators.  Implicit in this question is a set of power relations that often remain undisclosed in discussions about history and how it is taught.  By probing the implications that develop from the question of ‘who history is for’, it becomes apparent that we must ask a more basic question that helps us better understand the uses and abuses of the past. What do we mean by history education? Continue reading “Power and the Questions We Ask about History Education”

What can the past teach us about First Nations Education?

This was originally posted on Teaching the Past.

Edited digital image from Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-3924 (b&w film copy neg.) Lithograph of Stodart & Currier, N.Y. published by B.O. Tyler, [1834 or 1835]. See Currier & Ives : a catalogue raisonné / compiled by Gale Research. Detroit, MI : Gale Research, c1983, no. 1571.
Dartmouth College
The Canadian press has recently been replete with stories and op-ed pieces covering the National Panel on First Nation Elementary and Secondary Education, which this month wrapped up a series of roundtable discussions.  The panel, created through a partnership between the Canadian federal government and the Assembly of First Nations, has a mandate to develop options and to suggest legislation for improving on-reserve education across the country.

Inequitable funding for band-operated schools in many First Nations communities has created a crisis.  Despite education being a treaty right for many First Nations, the panel notes that “fewer than half of First Nation youth graduate from high school, compared to close to 80 per cent of other Canadian children, and some 70 per cent do not have a post secondary degree or diploma.”

As an historian of the eighteenth century studying Aboriginal engagement with European forms of higher education, these numbers startled me. In much of my research these figures are reversed.
Continue reading “What can the past teach us about First Nations Education?”