DISE's Professor Zanazanian develops tool that makes room for English-speaking community in teaching of Quebec history

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MONTREAL – October 12, 2017 - Dr. Paul Zanazanian of the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University has developed a pedagogical tool designed to complement the provincial history program and to make room for the diverse presence and contributions of English-speakers to Quebec.

“The tool empowers English-speaking youth to discover who they are, where they come from, and where they are headed,” said Dr. Zanazanian.

Based on a prior study, Zanazanian created an interactive narrative framework that helps teachers engage their students in learning the history of English-speaking Quebec. The main objective is for students to produce their own stories of belonging through investigative historical research.

This pedagogical tool includes a core story line, or underlying narrative pattern, that helps students frame their researched perspectives within a larger understanding of the history of the English-speaking community, thereby strengthening their connection to Quebec.

The key turning points in the history of English-speaking Quebec help structure the tool while two guiding themes - diversification through immigration, and working together to build a common civic project - act as narrative threads.

“Teachers can guide students to develop their own histories by helping them think and weave their stories like historians do,” Zanazanian explained. “This allows students to develop their own opinions about the past rather than soaking in those presented to them by authority figures who may have agendas of their own.”

To help them defend the ideas they put forth, the tool further assists students to situate their stories within larger understandings of how societies use history. “Not only does this allow them to validate their stories of belonging, it also helps them better understand and be more open to the history program they are being taught,” said Zanazanian. 

Zanazanian is currently conducting a research study on Secondary 3 and 4 history teachers in English schools. The goal of the new study is to understand how they make room for the presence and contributions of English-speaking Quebecers when teaching Quebec’s history curriculum. He is seeking English-language history teachers for the study. For details contact paul.zanazanian [at] mcgill.ca.

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Dr. Paul Zanazanian
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Department of Integrated Studies in Education
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paul.zanazanian [at] mcgill.ca
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