November provides many teachable moments

November 11, 2014 - 3 minutes read

Looking back, some of my best experiences in education were implanted years ago. My mother taught high school social studies, so perhaps history was in my blood. I truly came to love social studies during my high school years. Mr. Brown, my Grade 11 social studies teacher, made Canadian history come alive; I still remember the work we did in the government unit as we debated how to increase voter turnout (still very topical today!).

In Grade 12, Mr. Commons brought the 20th Century world to life with a series of simulations. One assignment I remember very well was being tasked with representing Germany during the post- World War I Treaty Process.

The inspiring and engaging social studies teachers I had in high school influenced my choice to study history, geography and political science at UBC, which led to my first teaching assignment at McRoberts Secondary in Richmond as a social studies teacher. In my first few years I got to teach both History 12 and Law 12 – a dream assignment.

Of course, this is a great month to be a Social Studies teacher. First, there are the local elections, which many of our classes and schools are using to engage students on contemporary municipal issues. Some teachers are also getting involved with the Student Vote BC Program, a non-partisan, parallel election program that provides students an opportunity to experience democracy first-hand. It is critical to connect knowledge to the real world, and I was pleased to speak to a couple of our teachers who are already looking ahead to next year’s Federal election.

There are also many teachable opportunities connected to Remembrance Day. I have been so impressed with the level of dedication and work that schools do in West Vancouver to mark this important event. I attended events on Friday and Monday and saw many parents and community members taking part in these important school events. In our schools, marking Remembrance Day is about far more than a simple ceremony. Powerful teaching and learning takes place before and after the events to engage in discussions about war, peace, Canadian history and a range of other meaningful topics.

Finally, I want to extend my congratulations to Rockridge teachers Dan Connor and Paula Waatainen, who were recognized this past month with Government of Canada Awards for History Teachers – this is a great honour for them and an important highlight of Canadian history.

Chris Kennedy
Superintendent of Schools