Katie Gemmell, Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, UBC
My MA research explores the past century of social studies education in Catholic schools in British Columbia. It examines the history of social studies education in relation to broader trends and influences in North America. These trends, which span from the twentieth to early twenty-first century (following Clark, 2004), include: progressive education (1930s – 1950s), “structures of the disciplines” (1960s), Canada studies (1970s), social issues and values education (1970s), citizenship education (1980s), and history education (1990s). My research seeks to determine the extent to which the intended learning outcomes expressed in Catholic schools’ curriculum documents, teaching resources including textbooks, and the guiding principles expressed in policy statements reflect the above stages.
I became interested in the history of education in Canada’s Catholic schools while working as a teacher in the local Catholic independent school system. As a high school Social Studies and History teacher, I found myself wondering about the goals of these courses over the past century. Questions of historical interpretation were of particular interest to me. Engaging in the study of history in a religious setting gave new meaning to historical thinking concepts such as historical perspective and significance. In this context I also became aware of the way in which Catholic independent schools have increasingly needed to negotiate their educational distinctiveness within the standards set by the Province.
I believe in the potential of Catholic education and am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the historical analysis regarding this option for education in British Columbia. I am especially grateful to Dr. Penney Clark for providing me with the opportunity to assist with her historical research, and for giving me guidance in mine.