Recent years have witnessed a breakdown in consensus about what history should be taught within Canadian schools; there is now a heightened awareness of the political nature of deciding whose history is, or should be, included in social studies and history classrooms. Meanwhile, as educators are debating what history should be taught, developments in educational and cognitive research are expanding our understanding of how best to teach it. To the Past explores some of the political, cultural and educational issues surrounding what history education is, and why we should care about it, in the twenty-first century in Canada.
Originally broadcast in the fall of 2002 on the CBC Radio program Ideas, the lectures that comprise this volume not only address how history is taught in Canadian classrooms, but also explore strands within larger discussions about the meaning and purposes of history more generally. Contributors show how Canadians are demonstrating a new interest in what scholars have termed 'historical consciousness' or collective memory, through participation in a wide range of cultural activities, from visiting museums to watching the History Channel. Canadian adults and children alike seem to be seeking answers to questions of identity, meaning, community and nation in their study of the past. Through this series of essays, readers will have the opportunity to explore some of the political and ethical issues involved in this emerging field of Canadian 'citizenship through history' as they learn about public memory and broadly defined history education in Canada.