CANADA: LAND OF DIVERSITY
Bruce W. Clark and John K. Wallace.
Volume 11 Number 6.
Social studies materials are often criticized for inappropriate readability levels, cultural bias, and unattractive or confusing layouts. The authors of this textbook have taken great care to avoid such pitfalls while still presenting solid intellectual challenges and some opportunity to explore controversial issues.
The introductory note does not explicitly say so, but the book seems to be intended for high school. Spot checks using the Fry Scale indicate that most of the reading could be handled by youngsters of that age. In addition, material has been rendered even more digestible by such features as super wide margins, highlighting of key terms, and the breaking up of long passages with questions, diagrams, illustrations, or case studies. Nowhere are pupils faced with more than two or three pages of information without some form of activity or check-up. Typical chapters include at least ten graphic components. Art work and cartography use blue and grey shading and play a particularly effective teaching role. The black-and-white photographs, however, are most often small and not particularly well selected.
The table of contents lists eight units and forty-four major sub-topics and serves very well for locating broad subjects. A comprehensive index provides access to more specific information. The glossary gives brief definitions for over three hundred technical terms, all of which are introduced in special boxes and printed in light blue in the text.
The book is organized as a unified course covering Canada's physical, economic, political, and social geography, but the authors concede that there is too much material for one school year. In fact, the chapters or at least some groups of chapters could be readily used as readings for many units in those provinces where the curriculum calls for teaching different aspects of Canadiana over several years.
No previous knowledge of either geography or Canadian affairs is assumed and considerable time is spent explaining elementary facts. Information builds quickly upon information, however, and there is much to challenge even the best students. A few sections dealing with physical geography and cartographic techniques may be a problem to a few who are extremely weak in science, but everybody should find the material dealing with our socio-political dilemmas very rigorous. Our politicians have not found the answers to these questions in over a hundred years of searching!
This is not the perfect textbook", but it is a good one. Teachers have much to work with here that is demanding and provocative. Although it has been written for classroom use, secondary school libraries would find it a useful source of up-to-date information.
Howard Hurt, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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