Transforming the Canadian History Classroom
Imagining a New "We"
We are all our history. Yet in Canadian classrooms, students are often left questioning how they can study a past that does not reflect their present. Despite curricular revisions, the mainstream narrative that shapes the way we teach students about the Canadian nation can be divisive, separating “us” from “them.”
Responding to the evolving demographics of an ethnically and culturally heterogeneous population, Transforming the Canadian History Classroom is a call for a radically innovative approach that instead places students – the stories they carry and the histories they want to be part of – at the centre of history education. Samantha Cutrara offers a practical and theoretical guide to creating a learning environment in which students can investigate the historical narratives that infuse their lives and imagine a future that makes room for their diverse identities. She explores how teaching practices and institutional contexts can support ideas of connection, complexity, and care in order to engender meaningful learning and foster a student-centric history education.
Drawing on student and teacher interviews and case studies in schools, this progressive study demonstrates how developing a sense of national identity in all Canadian youth can be grounded in the praxis and pedagogies of today’s history education.
Both in-training and practising teachers in history and social studies education need this book to inform their work, as do students and scholars of Canadian studies and critical pedagogy.
This book reminds us that the best history teaching builds from the needs and interests of students. It is a very important corrective to a dominant trend in history education and the public school curriculum, arguing effectively for ways to connect historical knowledge and learning to young people themselves.
Transforming the Canadian History Classroom is a unique and courageous contribution to the conversation around history teaching, historical consciousness, and historical thinking.
Samantha Cutrara is a curriculum specialist with the Office of the Vice Provost Academic at York University. She is a history education strategist who has developed museum exhibitions and related programming, written curriculum and resources, and led professional development sessions for educators. In 2015 she won the Ontario Museums Association Award for Excellence in Exhibits for the Dear Sadie exhibit at the Archives of Ontario.
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