Category Archives: Teaching History

East, West, North: Lessons for collaborative Canadian History curriculum

By Samantha Cutrara Should Canadian students be taught with the same history curriculum across the country? I often hear this question posed – sometimes in jest, sometimes in seriousness – at the end of a conference or symposium or in the comments section of an article. It is not currently a very active debate, but this question always seems to teeter on the… Read more »

Thinking Historically about Canadian Commemoration Controversies

By Lindsay Gibson Over the past year, Canada’s history has been centre stage. Controversy about commemoration of the past has fuelled public discussion and debate. In addition to #Canada150, the sesquicentennial anniversary of Canadian Confederation, there were impassioned arguments over the legacy of historical figures such as Hector Langevin, Egerton Ryerson, Joseph Trutch, Nicholas Flood Davin, Mathew Baillie Begbie, Edward… Read more »

Interpretation, Interaction, and Critique at House Museums

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Krista McCracken Ever wish there was way to provide feedback to museums and historic house sites that didn’t involve filling out a survey form? Enter anarchist tags. Created by Franklin D. Vagnone and Deborah E. Ryan, authors of Anarchist’s Guide to Historic House Museums: A Ground-Breaking Manifesto, the tags were designed as a way to allow community members to freely… Read more »

Saskatchewan History Curriculum: History curriculum placed in time

By Samantha Cutrara As a contributing editor for Active History, this year I will be exploring the Canadian history curriculum across the country. Conceptualized as a series, each post will build and develop off the findings of the others, so that we may conclude in June with some critical ideas about how Canadian history is designed to be taught and… Read more »

Ontario History Curriculum: Many Questions to be Answered

By Samantha Cutrara This academic year I’ll be writing a series of blog posts for Active History focused on history education in Canada. In these posts, I’ll be outlining the Canadian History and Social Studies curricula for each province and identifying some possible opportunities for collaboration between historians/archivists and teachers in elementary and secondary schools. As I mentioned in my… Read more »

The Hubris of Academe, or, “Students Suck”

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By Elise Chenier There are few moments in life as self-defining as being awarded a PhD. I got mine in 2001 from Queen’s University, one of Canada’s “top” schools. The ceremony required me to kneel before the Chancellor who tapped me once on each shoulder with his mortarboard. It did its magic. When I stood up and crossed that stage,… Read more »

Do you know what the children are learning?

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By Samantha Cutrara What is the purpose of learning history? Are we doomed to repeat it? Do we lose grounding? Are we stranded without space or place? Does history provide us with the skills for understanding evidence or content for narrating experience? As adults, as educators, as historians, we answer these questions with a blend of cliché and seriousness, never… Read more »

Why so dull Canada? Deconstructing Children’s Books on Confederation

Canadian history is often perceived as dull, but I argue that Canada’s history has been made dull in order to obfuscate the diversity of experiences that were legislatively supposed to be outside the experience of the newly confederated Canada

“In Defense of … “: Historical Thinking and Cultural Appropriation

By Andrew Nurse This is the second essay in a three part series on historical thinking and cultural appropriation. For the first part in the series, click here. One of the key characteristics of the commentaries that defend cultural appropriation is that they come in the guise of history. A friend sent me one today that referred back to Elvis… Read more »

Dreams of This as Home: Chinese labourers in children’s history books

Samantha Cutrara, PhD My last two blog posts for ActiveHistoy.ca deconstructed pre- and post-Confederation Canadian history in children’s books. My findings suggested that stories that explored difficult histories or social justice topics often did not connect these stories to larger national forces and thus felt isolated from the rest of Canadian history. These findings suggest a dangerous separation. Historians, teachers,… Read more »