Posts tagged ‘Social Sciences’

January 21, 2017

Podcast: Financial Literacy at the Expense of Political Literacy?

CJAD’s Leslie Roberts speaks with teacher Robert Green about the Quebec government’s proposal to introduce a financial literacy course at the expense of the Contemporary World course. Click here to download the podcast.

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April 12, 2014

Teaching the History of Quebec to English-speaking Children: A Teacher’s Journey

The following article was written by Perspectives II High School teacher John Commins following his participation in the Comité Elargi (2003-2007) that was responsible for vetting the most recent changes to Quebec’s History curriculum.

Pour lire la version originale écrite en français, cliquez ici.

First thanks for this opportunity and the thematic of the ENJEUX. My assumption is that the vast majority of you who will read this article are members of the French origin majority community, so I will be writing to you. I will try to describe what its like to teach history to English speaking kids in Quebec specifically and broadly what it is like being an English speaker who enjoys teaching Quebec history. Be aware that this work is my own; it comes from my personal journey and perspective. Keep reading and I guarantee this article will have a happy ending.

First lets talk about language, yes we have to this is Quebec! In Quebec I am referred to as an Anglophone. I hope that I am among the last generation that will be referred to as Anglophone. When English speakers are together they rarely if ever identify themselves as Anglophone, it is usually when the interlocutory is part of the French origin majority community that that designation is made. It is more striking amongst allophones, “ I am a what….. an allophone?”

diversityWhen identity is searched for amongst English speakers it’s usually ethnic. Irish, Greek, Italian, Jewish, Portuguese, sometimes Montrealer, Quebecer or Canadian and very rarely….English. This is the nature of the English speaking community in 2012. The English speaking community of Montreal is as diverse as any in urban Canada. When I am at my school the staffroom is comprised of teachers of Greek, Italian, German, Eastern European, Sri Lankan and Irish backgrounds, except for our Principal, Jacques Monfette, he is from Shawinigan and is French origin.

The turn to linguistic designations to describe what I would argue are concerns that are ethnic in nature, provides us with non-racial language that is becoming less and less productive. Lets be honest using linguistic terms to discuss ethnicity has become a way to avoid talking about ethnicity, and specifically the French origin community’s ethnic insecurities. After all at the end of the day I am also a francophone, and proud of it. I am also hoping the children of Law 101, after completing twelve years of scholarity in French would be considered francophone, if not what do these linguistic designations mean, do they only change with assimilation? If that is the case why won’t people say it?

When the PQ was elected in 1976, it was a necessary electro-shock for the English speaking community, including my 15-year-old self. It was a rupture with the past that would require English speakers to start recognizing that not speaking French was not only counter productive, but bordering on insulting. To be a full partner in the Quebec state, speaking French was now key, to be a full citizen of the Quebec state speaking French was necessary. The idea of what language you spoke at home was not, that’s been a more recent and troubling change amongst a small fringe in the nationalist community. Along with the new reference to Quebec’s “ historic” English speaking community, which is obviously an attempt to marginalize the English speaking community. With 94% of Quebecers now able to speak French, French is our common language.

There is an English speaking community in Quebec it has existed here for 250 years, it is a community that will continue to exist, a community tied to institutions like Concordia, and to neighborhoods like N.D.G.. It has always has been a community in transition and I believe a community that can make a positive contribution to this state, culturally, socially, politically, especially our kids. Now who am I?

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April 3, 2014

PQ pushes history rewrite

By CATHERINE SOLYOM | Published April 2, 2014 by The Montreal Gazette

Excerpt:

Education Minister Marie Malavoy, who had famously remarked that the 2006 history course “drowned (or evaded) the whole issue of sovereignty,” tried to put anxieties to rest.

“Anglophones can’t be excluded, they are part of the national narrative,” said Malavoy, who is not running for re-election. “It’s an inclusive approach.”

Not everyone is convinced. Robert Green, who teaches history at Westmount High, welcomed some aspects of the

Photograph by: John Mahoney, The Gazette

Photograph by: John Mahoney, The Gazette

new course, particularly the return to the chronological approach to the two-year course, divided at the 1840 mark (the creation of one Canada). The “dysfunctional” thematic approach in Grade 10 – which included discussion of three kinds of liberalism – was despised by teachers and students alike, he said.

But the new course will probably exacerbate the biases already found in the curriculum, Green said. For example, the role of the Irish during the Patriotes rebellion in 1837 is hardly mentioned, and discussion of the Second World War centres on how francophones didn’t want to participate. There’s almost nothing on the Holocaust.

Then there’s the depiction of First Nations, during the Oka crisis, for example, with no mention of how both federal and provincial governments negotiated in bad faith with the Mohawks, or of the racist riots on the LaSalle side of the Mercier Bridge.

“Yes, it’s disturbing, but it needs to be talked about,” Green said.

Read more:http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/pushes+history+rewrite/9688918/story.html

January 3, 2013

The First Rule of Good Teaching

by ROBERT JENSEN | Published January 02, 2013 by Counterpunch.org

“Good teaching is living your life honestly in front of students.”

I don’t recall exactly when Jim Koplin first told me that, but I know that he had to say it several times before I began to understand what he meant. Koplin was that kind of teacher—always honing in on simple, but profound, truths; fond of nudging through aphorisms that required time to understand their full depth; always aware of the connection between epistemology and ethics; and patient with slow learners.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Some background: Jim Koplin was, by way of a formal introduction, Dr. James H. Koplin, granted a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1962 with a specialization in language acquisition, tenured at Vanderbilt University and later a founding faculty member of Hampshire College, retired early in 1980 to a rich life of community building and political organizing. I never took a class from him, though in some sense the 24 years I knew him constituted one long independent study. That finally ended on December 15, 2012, not upon satisfactory completion of the course but when Jim died at the age of 79. (http://jimkoplin.com/obituary/)  He left behind a rich and diverse collection of friends, all of whom have a special connection with him. But I hang onto the conceit that I am his intellectual heir, the one who most directly continued his work in the classroom.

So, with that conceit firmly in place and his death fresh in my mind, it seems proper and fitting that I offer lessons learned from Koplin to the world outside his circle of students and friends.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in my 20 years of teaching at the University of Texas at Austin reflecting on Jim’s core insight, that good teaching is living your life honestly in front of students. The first, and most obvious, implication is a rejection of the illusory neutrality that some professors claim. From the framing of a course, to the choice of topics for inclusion on the syllabus, to the selection of readings, to the particular way we talk about ideas—teaching in the social sciences and humanities is political, through and through. Political, in this sense, does not mean partisan advocacy of a particular politician, party, or program, but rather recognizing the need to assess where real power lies, analyze how that power operates in any given society, and acknowledge the effect of that power on what counts as knowledge.

Read more: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/01/02/the-first-rule-of-good-teaching/

April 24, 2012

Several Ways We Can Teach Social Studies More Effectively

By Larry Ferlazzo, posted April 24, 2012 on Education Week – Teacher

“Bill [Bigelow] offers his advice specifically to new Social Studies advice, but they are words worth hearing for all of us no matter how long we’ve been teaching:

Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can pass along to new social studies teachers is the reminder that the textbook is not the curriculum. Increasingly, fewer and fewer giant multinational corporations produce our social studies textbooks. And all these for-profit entities have a vested interest in students (and teachers) not developing a critical awareness of the patterns of power and wealth that benefit those corporations.

That means that social studies teachers need to rely on ourselves, on networks of critical teachers, on non-profit publishers, and on the communities we serve, as the sources of curriculum.

Teach about what matters. Our job is to excite students about the world, to help them see the role that they can play in making society more equal and more just, to express their ideas powerfully, to see that social studies is about real people’s lives and about their relationship to each other and to nature. Enter the profession as a scholar, an historian, an activist, a curricular artist — not as a subordinate to some “official” curriculum established far away from our classrooms by self-interested parties.

Creating a lively, playful, experiential curriculum about things that matter is more fun for students, and for us as teachers, too. The more that your students find meaning and joy in the social studies curriculum, the more vital your professional lives will be and the longer you will likely stay in teaching.”

Read More: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/classroom_qa_with_larry_ferlazzo/2012/04/several_ways_we_can_teach_social_studies_more_effectively_–_part_one.html