In a few hours, Stephen Hurley and I will do the January 27th edition of This Week in Ontario Edublogs on voicEd Radio. We’ll be live at 9:15 and the show is recorded so that you can listen to it as a podcast later if live doesn’t work for you.
We’ll chat about five recent blog posts from Ontario Educators as we do most Wednesdays. On Friday, there will be a blog post here where I share my own thoughts on the five posts and add two more bonus posts. Before the radio show and, certainly before the blog post, I do my research so that I can make connections with the content.
One of the posts that we’ll be chatting about this morning comes from Paul McGuire and is titled “Historical Thinking for the Common Good.” Right off the bat, there was some learning for me – I had no idea that Paul had taught History before becoming an administrator. I found his comments about the teaching of History interesting.
When I attended secondary school, I avoided History courses, opting instead for Mathematics, Business, and Sciences where I could. From elementary school, I had only memories of having to memorize and regurgitate facts, dates, names, and places. Also, I hated writing essays. I do remember discussions with a friend while we were in high school. He loved History and thoroughly enjoyed his teacher, the Department Head, because the course wasn’t about facts but all kinds of opportunities to understand the “why” things happened. “Why” did they fight? “Why” did they locate where they did? “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” It was the sort of thing that I think I would really have enjoyed. Rats. Opportunity lost.
But, found later in life.
One of my regrets with the cancellation of the Bring IT, Together Conference was not visiting the Niagara Region. You see, in addition to attending the conference, I would always find some time to enjoy the history of the area, the plaques, the museums, General Brock’s monument, and all the other goodies. My wife and I would often go there for vacation. As she’ll tell you, I’ve never met a historic plaque that I didn’t like. She also has a great deal of patience as I’m quite happy to revisit year after year.
Knowing that Paul lives in the Ottawa area, he must just love the amount of history available. I know that when we visit my sister-in-law, there’s so much to look and explore there.
Fortunately, I don’t have to go far to enjoy history around here. This area is famous for its involvement with the War of 1812, Rum Running, and the Underground Railroad.
For the visitor, there’s a terrific site with historic sites plotted on a map at http://mapamherstburg.ca/heritage/
It uses modern GIS mapping to make it comes alive.
Visiting the site always reminds me of a workshop I used to offer and a couple of school visits to work with students. The concept we used was so easy to address expectations dealing with the local community and identify so many “why” questions and answer them by plotting them on a map. At the time, we didn’t have all the GIS and maps that we can easily tap into today but we had other tools and our favourite was working with Hyperstudio to get the job done. The activity is still a good one; it could be more contemporarily done with the plotting tools that we have today.
So, yes, History can be so exciting.
I’m looking forward to discussing this with Stephen on the show. If Paul’s available, he’s usually on Twitter interacting with us as we talk. This could be fun. It will also be interesting to hear Stephen’s thoughts about the history of his own community.
If you’re able, join us at 9:15 where we’ll be live. In addition to History, we’ll be talking about coyotes, kindergarten, and other things.