Throughout this tour we questioned the way we were teaching, and how History was writen and taught. What is important when teaching History? How should we be teaching? Is the content taking too much place in class? How could we use the Historical thinking concepts to help the students understanding the subject? What are the big questions we can ask our students?
While we were questioning ourselves, I started to realize that what we were doing everyday on the tour was what I would like to try in my class. What if I were to question my students without giving them the answer? I am not talking about dates or facts, I am talking about issues and controversies. After all, is it not my goal as a teacher to educate future citizens? Is it not important for citizens to be able to question what is going on in their community and in the world? Feeding answers does not construct any critical thinking. However, carefully questioning the students can provoke the curiosity which is the key to bring the students to look for the answers.
Even more, what are the students' big questions? What are they wondering? Is it possible to link their questions to the curriculum? Letting the students ask their questions and giving them the tools to find the answers would be rewarding. In fact, I think the students would develop more critical thinking by questioning the evidence they would find. This could be done by scrutinizing primary sources or comparing different point of views on an issue.
This task may seem gigantic for a high school student. Where to start? Where to look? Is Wikipedia always right? Here is where the teacher, instead of feeding answers, guides the class. Students are often looking to find the "right" answer. We, the teachers, have a role to play into that mindset because we generally give tests aimed towards facts and concepts. So, this is our role to show the students that, when answering historical questions, many interpretations can be taken.
What this Tour brought me? I discovered places I did not know, I learned a lot about the Canadian contribution to the two world wars, I saw iconic memorials, I paid tribute to the fallen soldiers. Moreover, this tour brought me something that no professional development gave me, and it is the opportunity to think about my teaching by feeding me with a lot of questions. Awesome questions. The reflexion is not over, but it is time for actions. I now have to change, and bring my findings into my classroom. This is exciting!
Véronique La Salle, High School teacher
Fredericton, New Brunswick