To the Past

To the Past: History Education, Public Memory, and Citizenship in Canada

Edited by Ruth W. Sandwell
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 120
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt1287rs0
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  • Book Info
    To the Past
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5721-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction: History Education, Public Memory, and Citizenship in Canada
    (pp. 3-10)
    RUTH W. SANDWELL

    Have historians, educational bureaucrats, and teachers conspired to make Canadian history as boring and irrelevant as possible? So Jack Granatstein hinted almost ten years ago in his inflammatoryWho Killed Canadian History?Unfortunately, the strongest argument against such a conspiracy theory is that these three groups stopped talking to each other a generation ago, about the same time they stopped being listened to by most Canadians who care about history. Thankfully, however, history education has been staging a comeback in recent years, inside as well as outside the classroom. Inflamed by Granatstein’s diatribe, or just plain worried about the future...

  5. 1 What Is Historical Consciousness?
    (pp. 11-22)
    PETER SEIXAS

    The three terms that are used to frame the essays in this collection – public memory, citizenship, and history education – are tremendously rich. I want to start with an exploration of their meanings.

    What does the term ‘public memory’ mean, and how is it different from history? Both history and memory have to do with our understanding of the past, but there is a difference in their connotations. ‘History’ invokes notions of objectivity and science. ‘Memory’ invokes notions of subjectivity and feeling. ‘History’ has a method. ‘Memory,’ if it is there at all, is immediately so. Consider such popular usage as...

  6. 2 Canadian History Teaching in Canada: What’s the Big Deal?
    (pp. 23-31)
    DESMOND MORTON

    ‘The past is a foreign country,’ wrote an otherwise obscure English novelist, L.P. Hartley. ‘They do things differently there.’¹ An American scholar, David Lowenthal, borrowed the phrase for a book that distinguishes between history and heritage. History, he suggests, is the past; heritage is what we make of it.² You see the difference at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, at Old Fort Henry, or in the Secondary 4th History Exam in Quebec. We start with a concern for the past; we finish preoccupied by a concern for politically correct interpretation, for attracting paying visitors, for ensuring that values and concepts...

  7. 3 Whose Public? Whose Memory? Racisms, Grand Narratives, and Canadian History
    (pp. 32-49)
    TIMOTHY J. STANLEY

    The myth that there is no racism in Canada endures. Many people living in Canada confidently assume that racism either exists elsewhere (in the United States, for example) or that, if it does exist in this country, it is an unfortunate exception to otherwise civilized and tolerant norms. Yet, as thousands of Canadians are only too well aware, racism is alive and well in Canada. Far from being exceptional, it is an ever-present reality, part of their daily lives.

    For many Canadians, racism is an individual moral failing. The idea of widespread racist exclusion simply does not square with what...

  8. 4 History, Humanistic Education, and Participatory Democracy
    (pp. 50-69)
    KEITH C. BARTON

    A few years ago I was interviewing Susan and Jean, two Kentucky girls who were around 10 or 11 years old, about their ideas regarding history.

    INTERVIEWER: Why do you think history is something people study?

    JEAN: Because it’s probably interesting, becauseIthink it’s interesting.

    INTERVIEWER: Why do you think it’s interesting?

    SUSAN: [So you can] know what the world was like back then compared to now.

    JEAN: I would usually find it more interesting because of the cars, and the women – how, like, women [got the right] to vote.

    INTERVIEWER: So what do you think makes that interesting?...

  9. 5 Remembering Our Past: An Examination of the Historical Memory of Young Québécois
    (pp. 70-87)
    JOCELYN LÉTOURNEAU

    It is usually thought that young people, for different reasons, know very little about history. Bodies like the Dominion Institute of Canada, for instance, have commissioned multiple polls over time to show that, when questioned about features of the past, young people, mostly students, would be unable to answer correctly more than two or three times out of ten.¹ In Quebec as well, we find numerous studies showing the lack of empirical knowledge among young people about the history of the province or of the nation – whatever you choose to call it. Summing up this catastrophic state of affairs, one...

  10. 6 The Blossoming of Canadian Historical Research: Implications for Educational Policy and Content
    (pp. 88-102)
    CHAD GAFFIELD

    Since the 1960s, historical research on Canada has moved from a marginal activity of a small number of scholars in a few universities to a central feature of all history departments across the country. The growth in activity has reflected not only the expansion of postsecondary education but also the increasing attention paid to Canada both in the undergraduate and graduate curriculum. Along with their counterparts in other disciplines, most history professors in Canada before the 1970s had received graduate education in Europe or the United States, and they offered their students a Eurocentric selection of courses that reflected their...

  11. 7 ‘To the Past’: Why We Need to Teach and Study History
    (pp. 103-131)
    KEN OSBORNE

    In the mid-1980s, looking for something that would alert students to the importance of history, I reread George Orwell’sNineteen Eighty-Four.It had been at least twenty years since I had last read it, and what I found surprised me. The more I read, the more it dawned on me that the novel is a profound meditation on the power of history. We all know that one of the central characteristics of the regime described inNineteen Eighty-Fouris its incessant rewriting of history. Orwell was making a point when he made the novel’s central character, Winston Smith, a worker...