History Syllabus Has Us Gasping Essay

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This means that, in order to effectively govern their nation, Canadian citizens must first have a sense of national identity, identifying themselves as one with their nation (Canadian state and society).

Another important issue discussed in the article is the fact that during the Traditional phase, the ability to think historically is mainly attributed to adults and professionals. There is a general agreement of the public that the youth are not capable to think and critically analyze issues in terms of the country's history, i.e., a historical analysis of social issues prevalent in the society. Thus, the youth are considered only as passive receivers of information regarding Canadian history, which explains why the mode of teaching during this period (1930s-1950s) had been too technical and factual. Hence, the perception that history is boring and insignificant to the school curricula prevailed not only among the student body, but to Canadian society as well.

Responding to the issue of ineffective method and teaching of history in schools, reformists on education during the 1960s have proposed various methods that involves the students' active participation in teaching history. The Progressive mode of teaching emerged, where the issue is analyzed as "a central problem" where "students could not understand it" (history). The Progressive mode interrelated history with different fields of study in the social sciences, such as economics, sociology, politics, and other disciplines significant to teaching Canadian history.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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Furthermore, Progressive education promotes critical thinking in studying history as a class subject, subsisting to "inquiry or discovery methods of teaching," which involves active discussion between the instructor and students on the subject of Canadian history. Within the paradigm of inquisitive mode of teaching (Progressive), several references and source books were used, deviating from the government proposal (during the Traditional phase) that there be a national history textbook to be used by all schools in Canada. Allowing students to use various references on Canadian history provides diverse, yet, wider insights about the subject, interweaving different social science disciplines to come up with various interpretations of history. Offering these diversities in depicting Canadian history allows students to practice critical thinking; which is a characteristic of active learning and participation in studying Canadian history.

The trend towards an interdisciplinary study of Canadian history continued in the 1970s until the present year, with the emergence of multiculturalism as another method of studying history. Categorized under the Progressive mode of teaching, multiculturalism does not only centers on the social sciences, but also integrates issues on social demographics, such as differences in age, gender, ethnicity and nationality, and political/religious affiliation. Through multiculturalism, students are given an in-depth study of their society not only through social science studies, but also by applying this knowledge in real-life settings -- that is, Canadian society using demographic data.

A more significant change in the Progressive teaching mode is that it considered the significant role that the youth plays in making history an interesting and relevant subject to teach to the students. Young educators and historians were given the opportunity to teach history to students according to their own style -- which is almost always interactive and dynamic: "... faculties of education responded by accepting students with degrees in the social sciences... In an age of increasing curricular freedom, a teacher... could earn a positive reputation as an innovator."

In sum, it is evident that the Progressive mode of teaching has helped innovate and change the state of history education in Canada, where knowledge of the nation's history is considered an essential requirement in developing national identity, patriotism, and a sense of citizenship to Canadian society, particularly the youth. This feat is especially attributed to Canada's younger generation of educators, who made it possible to make history an interesting and significant subject despite its character of 'factualism' and technicality. Indeed, the ability to think historically is no longer considered a skill that adults and professionals possess; young professionals have shown that, despite their youth, they can make critical thinking and analysis in the context of history, especially if this knowledge are to be imparted to the Canadian youth, the future leaders of the nation.


Osborne, K. (2000). 'Our History Syllabus Has Us Gasping': History in Canadian Schools -- Past, Present, and Future. Canadian Historical Review, 81:3. [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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