To Continue – Challenging the Official Story
- After students map the time period, the remainder of the time spent on the unit should “test” the map. Why are some events easier to fit then others?
- Teachers should use histories from the same time period to challenge the official story, however not every example has to be totally obscure. Asking different questions of “official” history will produce different engagements with it.
- Teachers can choose different “challenges” for each unit or they can use one “challenge” consistently through the year. For example, they can use histories of Black Canadians for one unit, Aboriginal Canadians for another, global histories for the next, etc. Or can look at diAbility, or single motherhood, or one community to continuously challenge throughout the whole year. Teachers can preselect challenges, they can follow ideas of “emergent curriculum” and choose challenges that peak students’ interests as they continue, or they can get students to find the “challenges” for each unit.
Teachers (and/or students) can get “challenges” from:
- The Textbook
o Use the side bar, or a briefly mentioned story and get students to do more research and/or ask different questions of it. For example, in Canada: A Nation Unfolding there is a picture of the No. 2 Construction Battalion, an all Black Battalion from WW1. Under the picture, the textbook authors ask, “What does the existence of a segregated battalion say about racial tolerance in Canada during the first few decades of the twentieth century?” (Newman, Eaton, Gini-Newman, Quinn, & Chandler, 2000, p. 89). Instead of asking this very gentile question, teachers could ask, “almost every other image of a WW1 solider in this textbook is that of a white solider. Does this picture change your idea of Canada during WW1? What does it mean that when we think of soldiers during this period we don’t think of Black Canadians as soldiers? Did Black Canadians have the same or different motivations for joining the war then White Canadian soldiers? Did they have the same or different jobs and treatment? Who else participated in the Great War that challenges what we think we know about this part of Canadian history?"
o There are so many great sites that have archived primary sources on-line that teachers can find a few themselves of have a research project in which students find resources. Looking at primary sources is a fantastic way for students to understand the complexities in history.
- The Students and their Families
o What was your family doing during WW2? Did the war affect them? Can you fit in your family’s history into our map of WW2? Why or why not?
o Bring geography into the classroom by asking students do look into the development of their neighbourhood. What or who lived in this space during the 1960s? How has it changed or stayed the same?
- Popular and/or ‘High’ Culture
o Literature, songs, art work can provide new perspectives to an old time period.
o Many Canadian histories are challenging standard conceptions of gender, race, and class in their research. Pick up a new(ish) collection of essays dealing with these issues and bring in the authors’ findings to your lectures.