collections, few collective projects took place. Classes and schools seemed to lack the resources to establish learning activities that involved systemic analysis of social inequality with resultant group political action.
The intricacies of how to teach citizenship skills are well beyond the scope of this report. Countless educators agree, however, that skills cannot simply be absorbed from a textbook: “The skills and dispositions necessary for effective democracy can really only be learned by practicing them. This is the most important challenge facing schools in this area. It is also the most difficult.”lxv Some scholars argue that classrooms must “encourage critical pedagogy and active investigation by students to grapple with and solve the complex, intricate issues facing the world.”lxvi Others have found that students who practise skills in the classroom or the school as a whole have an increased vision of how to help others. They are also more likely to feel like they possess sufficient knowledge and social capital to support community development.lxvii
Various pedagogical approaches exist, and many have been studied extensively.lxviii These include (but are not limited to) project-based learning, community service learning, simulations and workshops, exposure to activist role models, developing communities of support and of civic practice, and examining contemporary social problems and conflicts. This last example has been shown to be particularly effective and yet is often the least pursued in schools.lxix Two of several reasons why teachers avoid a pedagogy that credits political conflict and problem-solving is its potential to create division and discord in the classroom, and the complexity of such teaching strategies.lxx Another reason is that teachers report deficits in their own knowledge base of political process and pedagogy.lxxi Clearly, both pre- and in-service teacher education is an important site for the improvement of instructional practices, deserving further attention by government, the academic community and, very importantly, teachers’ associations. The next section provides a brief examination of the curriculum guidelines and behavioural policies across Canadian schools to seek further explanation for the absence of conflict analysis from civic learning.
Provincial/Territorial Civic Curriculum Guidelines
In a modern democratic society, citizenship requires of us that we not only be law-abiding but that we also participate in our own governance. To do so effectively requires that we have the requisite skills and this, of course, raises questions of how we can best impart these to our children and to the citizen body at large.
—Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technologylxxii
Each Canadian province and territory identifies Civics as an important component of the curriculum, and in many cases civic instruction is provided from the earliest grades to the last year of high school. Curriculum guidelines demonstrate fairly consistent understandings of the knowledge needed for students to develop into responsible and knowledgeable Canadian citizens. Every provincial/territorial curriculum guideline associates civic literacy with particular kinds of historical knowledge. In many cases, as in Manitoba, civic instruction is located in the Social Studies curriculum and is always seen as an outgrowth and adjunct to History, rather than to other disciplines forming the Social Studies, such as Geography.lxxiii In a few other cases, Civics constitutes a separate course, as in Ontario, but even here, the guideline is a part of the compulsory History guidelines.lxxiv Curriculum guidelines suggest that a historical approach to civics is necessary to demonstrate how past wrongs have since been righted. This version of history tells of Canada’s imperfect past, which