Blog Posts on Our New Blogging Space

Just a reminder that we have moved blogging space to our revamped  THEN/HiER site.

Please visit to read posts from the past month – awesome posts such as:


October 3, 2011 at 3:46 pm Leave a comment

Visit Our New Blogging Space!

We have new blogging space

We loved our home here at WordPress to exploring blogging, but all our bloggers felt disconnected from our THEN/HiER ‘home’ – So we are excited to annouce that

with the fantastic new user-friendly THEN/HiER site we have been  able to design a new blogging space right in our site!

Like last year, our focus for this blog is to explore and connect with issues pertaining to the teaching and learning of history in Canada, in whatever forms that teaching and learning take place. Our bloggers are mostly grad students in various stages of their graduate work who are wrestling with these questions, both in theory and practice, in their dissertation work.

In the new space, our bloggers will discuss a range of issues, including but not limited to:

  • The practice of history teaching and learning
  • The use of primary sources in the classroom
  • Forms of remembrance and the effects on memory
  • Web-resources helpful to educators
  • Articles or books that may be of interest to readers
  • Interesting content to bring into one’s classroom
  • Issues of assessment and evaluation
  • Ways to connect and collaborate across Canada

Original blog posts will be published twice a week and will be interspersed by links to other blogs with interesting content for readers.

We are always looking for more regular bloggers as well on feedback on what you like or suggestions you have for going forward.  Once a month we will also be looking for a guest blogger to cover a specific topic in a unique way. Stay tuned or contact Samantha Cutrara for more details. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

****** ****** ******

Other interesting item to note:

Information is now up for our upcoming national conference

Imagining Gateways:

Collaboration & innovation in teaching and learning history

Taking place October 27-29 in Halifax

In collaboration with the Nova Scotia Social Studies Teachers’ Association & The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, THEN/HiER invites you to participate in three days of discussion with historians, history educators, museum staff, and community members interested in pedagogy and practice related to history teaching and learning.      Click for more info

September 6, 2011 at 11:03 am Leave a comment

History Has Left the Building

Posted by *New Blogger* Katherine Joyce

For the past several years, I’ve been interested in outdoor education, and about the possibilities for teaching history in the outdoors. This year I’ve discovered more and more people who share this interest, and I have been lucky enough to attend two workshops focused on teaching history outside.

The first was a joint workshop of THEN/HiER and called Teaching History in Diverse Venues. Jennifer Bonnell summed up the workshop here. Highlights included visiting the Etobicoke Field Studies Centre, one of the Toronto District School Board’s outdoor education centres, where the staff took us through several history-focused outdoor activities. My favourite involved dividing the group into ‘families’ and having each family choose a site to build a first home, and then building a temporary shelter. It allowed the settler experience to come alive.

The second workshop was called Experiencing History and was organized by Approaching the Past.  The activities that Bob Henderson took us through emphasized the role geography has had in our history, particularly river systems.  In one, he had us create the Humber River watershed with a rope, and then place historical events along it, in their appropriate locations.

Outdoor education has a wide variety of benefits, including engaging students who don’t enjoy being at school, and experiencing a greater connection to place. Some jurisdictions, such as Scotland, have recently recognized the benefits of incorporating outdoor learning throughout the education system. It takes a lot of hard work to plan outdoor activities that are meaningful and connected to the curriculum. If you are interested in adding some outdoor lessons to your history classroom this year, you should check out Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning for ideas on how to do so, and also look at Scotland’s social studies curriculum (which includes history).  There is a legend which identifies curriculum outcomes as either particularly suited to outdoor learning, for outdoor or indoor learning, or for indoor learning only. This gives a nice sense of what sort of learning outcomes, although different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, are best suited for outdoor learning. And remember, have fun!

August 19, 2011 at 11:47 am Leave a comment

Warrior Nation vs. Peaceable Kingdom: Ian McKay on Understandings of History in Canada

Posted by Mary Chaktsiris

Ian McKay asks teachers: “Do you really want to be answerable to the interests that… will be teaching your students how great, romantic and exciting war can be?”

As featured in THEN/HiER’s podcast series, I recently spoke with Professor Ian McKay, Queen’s University, about understandings of history in Canada. Understandings of Canadian history, McKay argues, are focused around a new set of Canadian heroes that reinforce understandings of Canada as a warrior nation at the expense of understandings of Canada as a peaceable kingdom and welfare state. This new focus corresponds to a what McKay calls a “durastic dumbing down of Canadian public discourse at the hands of a very consistent, coherent elite that wants to push us into an ever more militarized posture, and that’s what we’re trying to warn Canadians against.”

During our twenty-minute conversation we discussed the construction of the past in Canada, and the increasing importance of militarism in this construction as reflected in the new Canadian citizenship guide and school curriculums where, for example, the First World War is revered in high school text books as definitional of the whole country while most events after the 1960’s are brushed aside. McKay argues that “the function of an education system is to create critical, aware citizens rather than unthinking spouters of the party lines.” Yet by teaching students myths about the Canadian past, such as the Battle of Vimy Ridge as the birth of the nation, McKay argues teachers are distorting the past and engaging “not in education, but in propaganda.”

McKay explains:

“We are in a moment of intense danger here, and I would like teachers to step back from these very easy, sweet deals that are put forward by interests outside the educational system and at the very least have a countervailing voice….shouldn’t we be giving enough attention to peacekeeping as a Canadian ideal, as a peaceful solution to the world’s problems? This was for a long time seen as a fundamental part of the Canadian idea, that Canadians were not in fact an imperialistic, warlike people. Do we really want to trade in that model for the new one?  Or do we want to think more critically and imaginatively about the old model?”

In the last question (at the 19:50 mark), McKay discusses his conceptualization of the Liberal Order Framework and other strategies that can be used by teachers and the public to critically think about the construction of Canadian History.

McKay ended our podcast with an appeal to Canadian teachers:

“My core thing I would love to leave with your audience is – okay – maybe this is our book writer’s image of a Canada that is becoming progressively militarized. So, as an educator read tomorrow’s newspapers. Read the issue after that and the issue after that, tune into the television, watch the world around you, watch the highways of heroes promotions, watch the national defense advertisements and come to your own conclusion. Is this the same Canada you lived in five years ago, is it the same Canada you lived in ten years ago, or has something fundamental changed? And if something fundamental has changed, by these signs of the times that come around us, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to become complicit in this change, or are you going to fight to expose it and to stop it?”

For the full podcast, visit

August 18, 2011 at 11:46 am Leave a comment

The Historical Thinking Project

Message from what was “Benchmarks”:
“After much consultation and feedback, we have re-branded the Benchmarks of Historical Thinking Project. It will now be called, The Historical Thinking Project. Take a look at the new website, still available through the old URL, but now also through
We are still the same group of educators, working toward the same goal of increasing historical thinking in classrooms, other educational settings, and educational resources. The new, streamlined name of the project emphasizes our core goals, without introducing what we came to realize was a potentially misleading term. (Our former name was being shortened to “Benchmarks,” which on its own, was not a good descriptor of the work we do.  Even the six historical thinking concepts in the Project framework were commonly referred to as “benchmarks,” which made little sense.)
Our new logo includes the photo of an astrolabe, believed to have been used by Samuel de Champlain as he explored New France in the early 17th century. According to some accounts, Champlain lost the astrolabe in 1613 and it was found 264 years later by a 14-year-old boy. The boy, in turn, handed it over to the captain of a steamboat on a nearby lake, who offered the boy ten dollars for the find. The astrolabe changed hands a number of times after that, eventually ending up in the collections of the New York Historical Society in 1942. The astrolabe was returned to Canada in 1989 after being acquired by the Canadian Museum of Civilization (in Ottawa).
This commonly held account has been called into question in recent years, and there is now debate over whether this astrolabe ever belonged to Champlain. We believe this is an excellent image for The Historical Thinking Project, as it represents a means of probing the unfamiliar and the unknown that is central to the work of historians. The fact that this astrolabe has a contested history also captures one of the key thrusts of our work: that all historical accounts are open to challenge and revision on the basis of new evidence and new ideas.
We hope that you are pleased with the new project name, and with the slogan, “promoting critical historical literacy for the 21st century,” which goes with it.
Peter Seixas, Project Director
Jill Colyer, Project Coordinator”

July 26, 2011 at 6:55 pm Leave a comment

Big Thinking Lecture at Congress 2011 – David Adams Richards: Threatened Identity: What do We Lose When We Lose the Sense of Place?

Posted by Cynthia Wallace-Casey

As a writer of historical fiction, David Adams Richards is best known for his ability to explore elements of humanity within characters  who “come from the fabric and the soil of the Miramichi.”[1] During Congress 2011,  he spoke about this sense of place and what it means to those who identify with New Brunswick’s past.


July 20, 2011 at 1:37 am Leave a comment

Like history? There’s an app for that |

Like history? There’s an app for that |

… there are greater prospects for historical apps, since they have the ability to integrate texts, images, and other data from (and about) the past with the mobility of smartphone technology….

July 11, 2011 at 10:47 pm Leave a comment

Tell — and teach — Canada’s stories –

A Canada Day editorial from the Michael Levine, the executive vice chair of The Historica-Dominion Institute

“Canada, like any good narrative, is made up of a collection of stories. And it’s those stories, and their storytellers, that form the core of our collective memory, and that intangible sense of Canadianness.”

Tell — and teach — Canada’s stories –

July 3, 2011 at 7:09 pm Leave a comment

Aboriginal Stories

Posted by Laura Fraser

June 21st was National Aboriginal Day in Canada and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on how Aboriginal stories can be better integrated with our teaching of History.

As the Program Coordinator for The Historica-Dominion Institute’s Canadian Aboriginal Writing & Arts Challenge, I spend a lot of my time working alongside Aboriginal communities to share the collective and personal stories of their youth. Not only has the experience been incredibly moving for me personally, but as a teacher, I’ve found incredible value in their storytelling. (more…)

June 21, 2011 at 11:51 pm Leave a comment

Who Speaks for the Forgotten? – Congress 2011 Big Ideas Lecture Delivered by Antonine Maillet

Posted by Cynthia Wallace-Casey

Who speaks for the forgotten?  This was the topic of discussion for Antonine Maillet’s Big Ideas lecture held during the recent Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Fredericton, New Brunswick (Canada).  The Hon. Antonine Maillet is a well known Acadian author and linguist, whose fictional heroine La Sagouine (The Washerwoman) has come to epitomise the resilience and strength of Acadian heritage in North America. (more…)

June 20, 2011 at 9:53 am Leave a comment

Older Posts

THEN/HiER on Twitter on Twitter

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 24 other subscribers