Ontario lauded for high school history curriculum

While I expect the debate over the teaching of history, and which histories and interpretations, will continue, this improvement over the past five years is noteworthy.

I can only wonder, given Alberta’s poor score, whether it had some influence on the increased emphasis on history in Discover Canada (which was needed), the citizenship guide introduced by former minister Jason Kenney, and the requirement, for teenagers, to take the citizenship knowledge test (not needed):

Ontario stands at the top of the class for its strong Canadian history curriculum in the latest ratings by this country’s history education watchdog — and we trounced Alberta, whose fuzzy timelines and lack of compulsory high school history credit landed it dead last.

Ontario’s rich Grade 10 history credit course — so jam-packed the report suggests it be spread over two years — plus its mandatory half-course in citizenship helped earn it a mark of 82 per cent on the Canadian History Report Card, to be released Monday by Historica Canada, a group that promotes awareness of Canadian history.

Also strong were British Columbia (81 per cent), Quebec (80) and Manitoba (80). However Alberta scored just 62 per cent, and Saskatchewan 69 per cent, in a report that calls for schools to work harder to help students understand their country.

“We tend to be lacking at either the front end — recent history — or the back end before 1867, but we’re getting better, which is important because understanding history helps you understand why we are the way we are,” said Historica president Anthony Wilson-Smith.

If anything, Ontario’s Grade 10 history course tries to cover too much, he said; “from the early 1900s to now — both world wars, the great influenza epidemic, the injustices done to immigrants like the Chinese who didn’t get the vote till 1947… let’s think of that scope! It would be better spread over two years.”

Canadian schools have pulled up their educational socks since 2009, when Historica’s last report card handed out failing grades to five provinces and territories, with two more squeaking by with only 50s.

This report card looked at history curriculum from Grades 4 to 12 to see how well it balances the teaching of timelines with deeper themes like diversity, gender, aboriginal peoples and national identity — and from a range of perspectives, from global to local, social to national.

It also measures how well each province teaches students to think about history using the six “historical thinking concepts” that have to do with historical significance, considering evidence, examining continuity and change, cause and consequence, looking at broader historical perspectives and the ethical dimension.

Wilson-Smith said Canadian schools are moving beyond the perspective of European settlers to include First Nations, women and non-European immigrants’ perspectives, and consider more than just military and economic milestones by discussing ethics and social responsibility.

Historica also consulted classroom teachers, and some in Ontario expressed their frustration at having little time for a deep look at events such as the FLQ crisis, the Cold War, the Korean War, the Indian Act, residential schools, the Montreal Massacre, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, OPEC crisis, the Oka crisis and the Meech Lake Accord, said Historica’s program manager, Bronwyn Graves.

Source: Ontario lauded for high school history curriculum | Toronto Star

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: