Social Studies In Action

World events this year have shown the need for Social Studies education! At the heart of this subject area is the development of democratically minded citizens who have are able to see multiple perspectives on issues, who are able to analyze sources of one’s information, and who are open to ideas of reconciliation, equity, and resolving differences peacefully through dialogue. As well, we work to encourage students to be able to see that there are times when the greater good should prevail over individualism, yet also see that individualism has been a natural evolution throughout history. Last, we work to help students see that many of today’s issues are unresolved historical ones, as well as to see that we need to be grateful for and appreciate the sacrifices and struggles of those who came before us to help shape the world we live in today.

Throughout the year, teachers worked to explore themes, issues, events and topics that challenged students to question the world around them and to try to understand their own biases and perspectives.

In Ms. Moss’ grade 9 social studies courses, students created a timeline of human rights injustices in Canada that they then presented to their peers in order to increase their understanding and awareness of what some communities have been subjected to and had to overcome. Students also explored the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to gain an appreciation for their rights and freedoms, then were asked to write the Charter as a children’s book.  With their knowledge of the Charter, students’  analyzed current issues and events and discussed the ways in which these events and issues were violations of the Charter.

Ms. Geswin’s grade 9 Social Studies classes had some great conversations while learning about immigration as well as human rights in Canada. Each student had to create an immigration story from the perspective of an immigrant from any time frame ( past to the  present).  One interesting development was some students shared their personal immigration stories, or the story of a family member.  Students discussed many of the stereotypes and perspectives people have towards immigrants and learned how these are hurtful and false. Hearing the personal stories changed many minds!

Ms. Hart’s grade 9 class conducted an inquiry on the Peace and Friendship Treaties and Treaty 1. The class discussed how to use primary, secondary and tertiary sources to understand who made agreements, what they agreed to, how understandings on each side differed, what motivated each side to sign, and how court decisions today shape what these agreements mean for human rights today. The class also engaged in a Mock Parliament where students took the ISideWith quiz to determine what political party they would join, ran leadership races, drafted bills, and engaged in the first reading, second reading, committee stage, report stage, and third reading of their bills. Students were encouraged to write bills that address the human rights problems in society that they believe are the most pressing. They learned inductively about majority and minority governments, coalition governments, and crossing the floor as they noticed the need to cooperate in order to pass their legislation.

Ms. Erickson’s Reconciliation English is a piece of the grade 9 English and Social Studies curricula, which allows students to share and be proud of their culture heritage and traditions. Many students at this age are unsure of their history and culture and had a chance to research and reflect on their own personal experiences and traditions.  Traditions varied from household to household and society to society and it gave students a chance to celebrate their individuality. Within the curriculum they also learned Indigenous history that had not been included in school previously. Through literature, students spent time learning about oral histories and short stories as vehicles to pass along knowledge, history and moral lessons. Students explored the novel “Indian Horse” by Richard Wagamese,  and were very engaged in the imagery in the novel and created excellent assignments using the literary elements of similes, metaphors and personifications.

In Mr. Pohorily’s grade 10 geography classes, students explored issues relating to climate change and what they can do to help the environment.  Students explored societal values relating to how they, as global citizens, should/could integrate energy solutions that do not involve introducing more carbon into the environment.  They also had the opportunity to dialogue with each other about how Canadians are responding to the challenges of a changing climate and to ask how we could achieve a more informed community.

In Mr. Schrofel’s grade 11 Canadian history class, students looked at a variety of policies of assimilation, including the Indian Act and residential schools. They also looked at modern examples of the experiences of Indigenous peoples in Manitoba, such as Brian Sinclair and the creation of Jordan’s Principle. Students were able to gain an appreciation for the historical contexts in which these policies were created as well as to see the short-term and long-term impacts on Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Student’s were also able to do a comparative study of the influenza pandemic of 1918 and the current pandemic, in terms of similarities and differences, as well as a photo essay study of the two events.

In Mr. Schrofel’s law classes, students looked at a variety of topics to further their understanding of why laws are needed, the evolution of Canadian law, and the many elements of criminal and civil law. Throughout the course, students were challenged to read, analyze, and discuss case studies related to various aspects of the law. Students were also challenged to apply their knowledge of topics covered in a variety of activities, such as analyzing scenarios. Throughout the course, students were also challenged to analyze and reflect upon their own thoughts and opinions on a variety of topics, pushing them to explore how and why they think the way they do.

In Mr. Schrofel’s global issues course, students started every class with a discussion of items and events making the news. Students explored a variety of theme units related to major issues and forces, such as health and biotechnology and the media. At the end of each unit, students had to reflect upon what they learned and how their thinking may or may not have changed over the course of the unit of study. Through exploring global issues, students were able to see that it is important to think globally and that it is most important to act locally, as working to be an agent of change begins in one’s own ‘backyard’. Students were also able to learn how interconnected many issues and events are, and how our ‘collective humanity’ must be the way forward to address many of these issues and events.