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OHASSTA Nov 2014 final

Journal of the Ontario History and Social Science Teachers' Association “Reach Every Student”: Gender, Disabilities and The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 and 10: Canadian and World Studies: Geography, History Civics Lorna McLean, Associate Professor and Alessandra Iozzo-Duval, PhD candidate. Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa The 2013, Canadian and World Studies curriculum aims to “support every student, reach every student” (Ontario Ministry of Education [OME], 2013). In this paper, we draw upon concepts of historical thinking to probe representations of diversity in the curriculum by addressing the following questions: 1. In what ways are women represented in relation to the dominant themes of Canadian history and citizenship? 2. How are people with (dis)abilities represented in relation to the dominant themes of Canadian history and citizenship? 3. What would our historical work as educators entail in an imagined history that rigorously engaged with gender and disability? The concepts of historical thinking – historical significance, cause and consequence, continuity and change, and historical perspective – reject an approach to history that emphasizes memorization and regurgitation of “facts” and the privileging of a particular narrative about the past and its meaning. Rather, within the new curriculum, history education invites the student to be an active participant in her/his own learning – a model that is consistent with constructivist theories of learning and pedagogy. This paper is interested in representations of power and privilege in the curriculum and seeks to expand discussions of historical thinking to include women and people with (dis)abilities. These topics will be dealt with separately and then discussed together to illustrate how these concepts are historically situated and co- constitutive -- gender and disability are shaped and they shape, broad societal forces. As Burch and Patterson assert, “[a]ttending to the experience of gender and disability across time and place complicates the often under-represented meanings of normality….”(2013). In the Ontario curriculum, women appear predominantly within women-based political, social and economic contexts such as the franchise, women’s movements, paid and unpaid labour and traditional familial, social settings. Given the extensive research in women’s history in Canada over the last 50 years, the representation of women in the curricula is surprisingly low. An online search of the University of Ottawa’s library database for Canadian Women History yielded 128,400 hits, and with Google there were 302,000,000 references to consult. The lack of representation of women in history is not only circumscribed in curricula. As many scholars have noted -- women and feminist analyses are marginalized within the grand Canadian historical narrative(s) (Carstairs & Janovicek, 2013). Students’ perspectives and knowledge of the history of women is limited in Grade 10. Among the examples provided in the list of names whom students are invited to select from for further research the representation of women ranged from one in five to just under a half of the people on the list (OME, 2013). As central themes, suffrage and labour are frequently linked to “women’s issues.” While there is an attempt to identify these topics within a context of attitudes towards women – e.g., wars, industrial expansion and changing societal norms, overall, the grand narrative of Canadian history remains intact. With regard to labour, the entry of women into the labour force dominates: in Grade 10, among the sample questions for studying Canada from 1945 to 1982, the following questions appear: “what type of challenges did women in the labour force face in this period? In what ways were they different from the challenges facing earlier generations of women?” (OME p. 119). To determine the representation of (dis)abilities and (dis)ability in the curriculum we did a word search of “disability” and “disabilities”. In Grade 10, in addition to the glossary reference related to human rights, there are six additional references, most of which are related to civics. Based on our content analysis and coding, (dis)abilities were often associated with illness or medical and physical pathologies such as thalidomide and sterilization (OME, 2013, p. 118, 133). Unfortunately, the history that informs approaches to debates regarding accommodation of students in education is only featured in the prescriptive section of the curriculum, not the historical analysis (OME, eg. p. 45), as seen in the example in the section on Canada from 1929 to 1945, “Sample questions: Why did the Alberta government force some people with disabilities to undergo sterilization?” (OME, 2013, p. 133). Overall, RAPPORT FALL 2014 9 RAPPORT FALL 20149