The future of Canadian history

Are we becoming a historically illiterate nation or are we already there? What teaching strategies would pique the interest of today's techno-generation?

" /

These are a few of the types of questions U of L education professor Dr. Amy von Heyking and her colleagues from The History Education Network/Histoire et Education en Reseau (THEN/HiER) are investigating.

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) recently awarded the collaborative network $2.1 million to study ways in which teaching Canadian history in the K-12 setting can be made more relevant.

"Children are not being given the opportunity to think says von Heyking. "Clarifying the skills that historians use – collecting data, interpreting primary documents, assessing evidence, exploring the perspectives of people in the past – all are valuable in helping us improve the curriculum in the K-12 education system."

Through research, von Heyking and THEN/HiER intend to promote historical consciousness, heighten understanding of collective heritage and improve communication between teachers and historians.

Their collaboration extends to various public institutions and the education system – they dialogue with historians, educators, graduate students, heritage agencies and others from across the diverse field of Canadian history.

THEN/HiER works on an international level with history networks based in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. In this region, von Heyking will partner with teachers in classroom settings and work directly with education programmers at local museums and heritage sites, such as Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.

"The goal of THEN/HiER is to encourage history education research that is informed by practice, and practice that is informed by research. We will continue to try and find ways to help teachers and public institutions to work together to build links," says von Heyking.