Around Renison - September 20, 2019

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Young girl sitting at a desk, looking out the window.Renison’s Kristina Llewellyn part of Canada-wide project to study how students learn about history

When sitting down with Kristina Llewellyn to talk about her part the Canada-wide project, “Thinking Historically for Canada’s Future,” one of her first statements was “Why does every kid hate studying history? Because it’s a bunch of dates they have to memorize.” That’s why 28 researchers from across the country are coming together to study how students are learning about history, and shed light on what’s behind the dates.

“Thinking Historically for Canada’s Future” is a seven-year project, to dispel longstanding myths about Canadian history, and provide recommendations to bring Canadian history into the 21st century. Led by Carla Peck from the University of Alberta, and Lindsay Gibbon from the University of British Columbia, the study will look at the resources that are currently available to students, including various teaching methods, and provide support and resources for an updated curriculum.

According to Llewellyn, the crux of the project is to ensure that students have the tools to interpret history, not just remember significant dates or historical figures. She is also quick to point out that, although there has not been a substantive survey about how we teach history in Canada since the 1960s, some students are being taught in creative ways that might be very different from what many adults remember. Active history, she describes, is one way that students can interpret evidence from the past and come to their own conclusions.

The ability to think historically has far-reaching effects. Llewellyn mentions that the history that is taught, and the way it is taught, says something about what we value (or devalue) and depends on the perspective of the author or teacher. By giving students skills to interpret evidence and come to their own conclusions, the expectation is that they can carry that into their own life, think more critically, and connect the past and present in a meaningful way.  

Perhaps future Canadian students will, as Llewellyn hopes, see history education as essential and compelling, “I want it to be their favourite subject!” Her work for now will be concentrated on her cluster of the project, which focuses on curriculum and resources to support the eventual recommendations.

For more information about “Thinking Historically for Canada’s Future” check out the Edmonton Journal.

Headshot of young man, in front of multicoloured background. Jacob Hillerby Bursary inaugural recipient chosen for commitment to making an impact

Aleksi Luomo (pictured), chosen as the first recipient of the Jacob Hillerby Bursary award, is a chemical engineering student whose goal is to bring clean water to neglected First Nations communities. One of the many engineering students on campus at Renison, he chose to pursue engineering because of his unwavering interest in understanding technology and how things work.

Aleksi is from Thunder Bay, Ontario, and chose the University of Waterloo for the engineering program, and live as part of Renison’s Waterloo Athletics Learning Community (WALC). Eager to get involved, he became the floor rep – not surprising as he served on student council for three years in his hometown.

The Jacob Hillerby Bursary award has grown since its establishment in 2018, with the Hillerby family’s extensive fundraising efforts. They hope to continue supporting students like Aleksi, whose interest in engineering could not only make an impact, but also change the world!

The English Language Institute to provide additional support with new program, Getaway FamiliesWoman sitting, holding a coffee cup.

A new initiative from the English Language Institute (ELI) will provide extra support to international students through a new program, Getaway Families. Willing families are matched with students who are interested in forming connections beyond the classroom to improve the student’s overall experience in Canada, while providing an intercultural experience opportunity for local families.

Families and students are able to set their own schedules for connection, but families are encouraged to invite students for meals or on outings, offer a quiet place to study, join the family for special occasions, and share in cultural, language, and travel experiences.

Currently the program has 10 families and 20 students involved, with a few waiting to be matched.

Anyone who may be interested in participating as a getaway family or have any questions, feedback or comments in general, please contact:

Christine Gillies  cgillies@uwaterloo.ca

Bethany Dixon    bethany.dixon@uwaterloo.ca

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