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The Canada Studies Foundation

Volume 09 Number 2

THE CANADA STUDIES FOUNDATION (CSF), incorporated in 1970 as an independent, non-profit organization, was designed to find ways of improving the quality of Canadian studies in the elementary and secondary schools of all provinces so that our young people might gain a better understanding of themselves and other Canadians from different regional, cultural, and linguistic groups across the country. Since 1970, the Canada Studies Foundation has sponsored teacher-centred curriculum development of a pan-Canadian nature. Its goal is a greater understanding of Canadian society.

No other organization has involved so many teachers in co-operative curriculum development endeavors from such a wide-spread geographical area. To be more specific: In its first phase (1970-75), the Foundation completed curriculum projects involving more than seven hundred people from every level of education and over eight thousand five hundred students from all provinces; in its second phase (1975-78), the CSF completed ten additional projects involving four hundred educators in all provinces, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. By February 1981, fifty-one volumes of learning materials, developed as a result of these Foundation-sponsored projects, had been commercially published. More than thirty learning materials were available from non-commercial sources.

As well as being involved in curriculum development activities, the Canada Studies Foundation has developed a bilingual information service. It has maintained a fully bicultural operation, providing services to teachers and education officials in ten provinces. It has organized or provided resource personnel for local, provincial, and national workshops. Most recently, it has produced a comprehensive rationale for Canada studies programs under the title Teaching Canada for the '80s (OISE Press,1978).

The objective of the Foundation has been consistent but, due to its multifaceted activities, its experimental nature, and the resulting flexible guidelines, the process of curriculum development -- in this case, the implementation of CSF positions of principle -- has taken many forms. The Foundation's position has been most clearly stated in the April 1976 issue of its newsletter, Contact. The following claim is made:

The Foundation's distinctiveness is based on the following positions of principle:

1. that the goal of the study of Canada should be an understanding of the major issues and questions facing Canadians;

2. that its energies and resources should be directed primarily to classroom teachers (and student teachers), wherever appropriate in close collaboration with their students;

3. that teachers and students should receive support from the personnel and resources of universities, school boards, departments of education, community agencies, professional associations of teachers, and all other willing individuals and groups;

4. that teachers must be afforded opportunities to obtain a comprehensive view of Canada and to understand the varying viewpoints of people in Canada;

5. that improvements in courses of study, in learning/teaching materials, and in methods of teaching are necessary to bring about significant improvement of civic education in Canada's schools;

6. that the Foundation can only demonstrate ways and means of improving civic education in Canada's schools; improvement on the desired scale will only be realized when schools in Canada generally incorporate changes proposed by the Foundation.

In support of these positions it is further claimed that. . .

classroom teachers, working together across cultural and regional boundaries, are in the best position to make judgments about adapting Canada studies to age/grade level of students, about course organization, about methods of teaching, and about suitability of learning materials; in these areas, the Foundation wishes to see the creativity of teachers given full rein.

The Foundation contends that the shared creativity of teachers throughout Canada, supported by expertise beyond the classroom, offers the greatest promise of improvement in civic education in the schools of Canada; the Foundation sees activities to facilitate this sharing as an essential feature of Canada studies throughout Canada.

Experience has shown that the above contention needs modification.

The importance of the provincial departments of education in the implementation process must be recognized. Expertise from this educational milieu must be used. The importance of this expertise is recognized in the character of the third phase of the Foundation.

The Character of Phase III

During the current phase of the work of the Foundation (1979-81), all developmental work has been related to one of the four broad themes described in Teaching Canada for the '80s: The Canadian Environment, The Canadian Political System, The Canadian Economic System, and Canadian Public Issues.

The broad general goal of all activities is to contribute to a greater degree of national understanding in the minds of students and teachers. Teaching Canada for the '80s is the position statement of the Canada Studies Foundation and provides the theoretical rationale from which learning materials can be developed and activities can be sponsored that will improve the study of Canada throughout the 1980s. While the development of comprehensive Canadian studies programs must remain a prerogative of the individual provincial departments of education, materials developed under the sponsorship of the CSF must have potential for use in these programs.

The major pan-Canadian thrust of the Foundation is being undertaken by five regional centres. A centre is defined as a cluster of people in reasonably close geographic proximity. It has been the responsibility of each centre to extend its activities as widely as possible, both geographically and within the educational milieu. At each of the five centres specific understandings were selected based upon a broad umbrella topic that, in turn, is based upon Teaching Canada for the '80s. Writers were then selected to develop monographs, both academic and pedagogic. These monographs are near completion. They will be critiqued, revised, and exchanged between centres for purposes of validation. As well, prototype instructional materials are at present being developed at each centre.

OISE Press has formally agreed to publish all the academic and pedagogic monographs resulting from activities from the current centres, subject to the normal review process. Tentative plans indicate a series comprising one or two volumes from each centre. In order to ease the publication load, yet still maintain a coherent publishing program, it is planned that the Centre Franco-Ontarien in Ottawa will publish and disseminate the French-language materials.

Details of Centre Writing Activities

University of British Columbia (Public Issues)
Each monograph contains an academic and pedagogic component. The monograph topics are as follows: Multi-ethnic Canada, Canada's relations with the United States, Quality of life in Canada, Global issues and Canada's external politics.

University of Manitoba (Politics)
The monograph topics are as follows: Civil liberties, Political culture, Federalism, Local politics, A pedagogic monograph.

Laval Centre (Public Issues)
The monograph topics are as follows: Le Canada dans le monde, Le probleme de l'energie au Canada, Nordicite et urbanisation canadiennes pour les 12-14 ans (niveau moyen et eleves en difficulte d'apprentissage), Partis politiques au Canada.

Atlantic Institute of Education (Canadian Environment)
The monograph topics are as follows: The physical structure of Canada, Nature resources and their use, The development of a modem economy, Canada's peoples: diversity of language and culture, Ongoing external influences on the development of Canada.

Trinity College School Economics
This centre is not stressing the adult-level component of the monographs as that aspect of Canadian economics is being adequately covered by other institutions. Rather, centre personnel are focusing on the development of a comprehensive pedagogic monograph related to the Canadian economic system. As well, student materials for the grade 10-12 level are an integral component. These student materials, currently in press, stress the following concepts: The Canadian experience with comparative economic systems, The Canadian consumer, The Canadian producer, Distribution.

The regional centre approach demonstrates the evolution of CSF procedures. The approach appears to be a highly feasible one after assessing the pros and cons of past activities. The development and dissemination of quality resource materials for teachers and the public would seem to provide a valid raison d 'etre for the CSF. These materials are meant to provide background for a teacher to develop specific lessons or student materials. The development of student materials at the local classroom level is a continuing phenomenon across Canada; thus, the need is created to provide a teacher with adequate support and reference materials.

It should be stressed that present activities represent only a large pilot project. If the project is found to be successful, many more materials could be developed and the related activities extended. The most pressing current task would appear to be the implementation of present work and the dissemination of the ideas of the Canada Studies Foundation.

Of Specific Interest

Most work of the Foundation is of a developmental or advisory nature. Finished materials are usually published and distributed by other agencies. Some materials, however, are distributed through the Foundation's central office. Of particular interest should be the Foundation's bilingual newsletter Contact and the annual volumes of the Walter L. Gordon Lecture series. Each is distributed free of charge, and some back issues are still available.

Contact is designed to facilitate the exchange of ideas and information among teachers of Canadian studies. At present, it is published quarterly. The three most recent issues have stressed civic education and have generated an amazing amount of interest.

Each bilingual volume of the Walter L. Gordon Lecture series contains the lectures of three individuals related to an umbrella theme. The most recent volume (Volume 4) has also generated interest, and it has yet to be widely reviewed. The reason for the interest is likely the relevance of the topic-The Computerized Society: Implications for Canada.

For further information, write to: Robert M. Anderson, Director, The Canada Studies Foundation, Suite S-716, 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1V5.

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