From the Provincial Freeman, February 23rd, 1856.

Last month, we let you know that we had gotten an Ontario Multicultural Community Capacity Grant (which we’re abbreviating as the MCC project), funding provided by the Government of Ontario.

Because we’re developing educational resources for Ontario students in conjunction with a wide variety of experts and feedback, we want to document our progress on this project as we go along. You’ll see regular MCC update posts on this blog for the next few months.

Lots of amazing educators, historians, archivists, and thinkers are working on the problem: what’s in the Ontario curriculum, and what should be? Here’s one example, from the fantastic Active History:

“Primary sources and inquiry play a large part in these curricula. As early as grade 3, students are expected to ‘use primary sources such as journals, letters, maps, and paintings to investigate how people in early Canada responded to challenges in their lives’…. With an explicit emphasis on inquiry – developing questions, finding answers, presenting results – the curriculum in Ontario is not intended to be, nor written with the expectation that, History and Social Studies will or should be taught as an immovable timeline supported with textbooks and lectures.” – Samantha Cutrara, Ontario History Curriculum: Many Questions to be Answered

Our project plan is exploratory – to discover how we can use the interactive and participatory elements of our VITA toolkit to allow for this type of inquiry and investigation, and to come up with ways we can improve our tools to do this better. While we want to have useful educational modules at the end of this funding round, we also want a list of actionable items for our designers for future improvements. Thinking about student inquiry is a perfect framework to inform our development!

“One teacher I spoke to … said that teachers are ‘desperate’ for primary sources to use with their students. In my own work with teachers, I have found that teachers need a blend of supportive agency in their work with historians, librarians, archivists, etc. They don’t want prescriptive lesson plans nor do they want a whole archive to sort through. What they want is a small selection of curated resources that tell stories that are outside the dominant Canadian history narrative.”

We love seeing conclusions like these because our preliminary research for the grant application led us in the same direction: a bit of narrative to string along some resources that allow students to do independent further exploration. Some of the virtual exhibits our members have created exemplify this perfectly, such as the Erchless and Its Inhabitants exhibit, 150 years of Oakville’s historythe history of South River – Machar, or the history of mental-health facilities in Whitby. While we continue to comb over our members’ collections to find amazing stories to bring to the attention of Ontario’s students, we’re keeping recommendations like these in mind.

Want to participate in our process? We’d love to hear from educators, students, consultants, researchers, historians, and librarians. Get in touch!