Shall we teach Canadian history?

[I posted this originally in my history blog, but think it is of enough interest to my non-history friends to post here too]

This discussion was in the Globe and Mail this past saturday. I don’t know how long the Globe will maintain it online, so I made a pdf copy for you here:Should we can Canadian history?. I’m still agast at the first piece in the discussion – I didn’t think anybody still spoke out loud about history as a western-led progress, the “advancement of civilization” led by our male, white, European forefathers. I think my eyebrows glued to my hairline at that… How can someone even suggest that “music, science and political philosophy are all largely Western achievements”???
One thing from the article that I found VERY interesting and that wasn’t reproduced in the online version is what students are expected to walk out of school with, if they take all their history courses. This is according to Ken Osborne, a professor emeritus at the University of Manitoba, who has spent his career training history teachers. Here is his list of the core points:

  • Canada has a long aboriginal history predating Europeans’ arrival and aboriginal peoples occupy a key place in our history
  • Canada was once a colony of France, then of Britain – and French-English duality is a defining characteristic of the country
  • Bilingualism, multiculturalism, regional diversity, federalism and parliamentary democracy are defining characteristics of Canada
  • US relations have been a formative element of our evolution
  • Immigration is a major factor in Canada’s development
  • International events play an important role in our past
  • History as a subject is characterized by ongoing debate and interpretation

Those are all VERY important points and certainly things I learned in my Canadian history classes at university. Hats off to any high school teacher  who has been able to pass on these core points to their students.

Happy Canada Day!!

Canada DayI don’t really have time to write a proper post about Canada Day today since I’m going to spend the day checking out the festivities at the Harbourfront. We spent the day up north today at a friend of a friend’s cottage and we sort of celebrated Canada Day in advance. Everybody had sticker tattoos of Canadian flags, there were flags everywhere and before we set out the fireworks we even sang Oh Canada ;) It was fun! For those who are interested, I’ll leave you with a really good article on today’s Globe and Mail comparing the Canada that is celebrating 140 years old today and the Canada of the mythical summer of 1967. Click here to see the pdf version:Birth of a Nation.

And here’s the Governor General’s own message (written in her blog!). Very touching.