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Summer: time for sunny days, blue skies, lazy days at the beach….
LOL Yeah right….
Let’s face it: no one likes teaching or taking summer courses. Not only does the weather make you want to spend all of your time outside, but the sheer pace of summer courses is just exhausting. With that in mind, and considering that I just finished teaching one, I thought that I would use this blog post as an opportunity to reflect back on my experiences and talk about what worked and what didn’t, in the hopes that we might all learn a thing or two.
Some of you may remember that back in April, SFU published a feature with Mary-Ellen Kelm, interviewing her about her recent experience co-creating her syllabus with her students. My interest was immediately piqued, since you know how much I love learning about new pedagogical techniques and methods for facilitating student engagement with history. While the article provided a little bit of information about how this worked, I was dying to learn more. Thankfully, Mary-Ellen Kelm was extremely gracious, and agreed to be interviewed about her process! So I am super excited to be able to bring you this interview today, especially since we’re in the middle of prime syllabus-writing season (I’m crying with you)! Enjoy!
Mary-Ellen Kelm is a professor of history at Simon Fraser University specializing in settler colonial and medical histories of North America. Her first book, Colonizing Bodies: Aboriginal Health and Healing in British Columbia 1900-1950 (UBC Press, 1998) won the Sir John A. Macdonald Prize and the Clio award for British Columbia both awarded by the Canadian Historical Association. In 2007 she received the second place award in the BC Historical Federation’s annual history writing competition for editing The Letters of Margaret Butcher: Missionary-Imperialism on the North Pacific Coast (University of Calgary Press, 2007), which tell the story of the Elizabeth Long Memorial Home, an Indian Residential School in Kitamaat, BC, from the perspective of an English teacher and nurse at the school. Her history, A Wilder West: Rodeo in Western Canada (UBC Press, 2011) is an illustrated examination of rodeo’s small-town roots, and a look at how the sport brought people together across racial and gender divides. She is currently examining the ideas and methods medical researchers brought to the study of Indigenous health in North America from 1910-1990. She is co-editor of the Canadian Historical Review.
Several weeks ago, a new blog started showing up in my social media feeds, A History of the Yukon in 100 Objects. Just FYI, titles like that are catnip for me! After some investigating, I discovered that this project was created by Amanda Graham — a faculty member at Yukon College — for the students enrolled in her course entitled “Northern Studies 200: Research in the North.” The project echoes the BBC and the British Museum’s “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” but reconfigured for a classroom setting. Graham was kind enough to agree to talk to me about this project so that I could in turn share it with you! I’ve talked previously about the importance of active learning in Canadian history, as well as the possibilities of digital history. However, such activities can often seem intimidating, so I hope that this blog post, the result of that conversation, will convince you that they are worthwhile additions to any classroom!
But first, allow me to introduce Amanda Graham!
Amanda Graham, BA, Dipl. NOST MA
Amanda Graham was the first graduate of the college’s Northern Studies program. She joined Yukon College in 1992 as managing editor of The Northern Review, taught northern studies, and served as Chair of Social Sciences and Humanities in the old Arts and Science Division for two terms (1994-1998). In 2004, Graham resigned to coordinate UArctic programs at Yukon College and to teach northern and circumpolar studies and, variously European and Canadian history. She piloted a successful service learning course that linked coursework and reflection to voluteer work with the Arctic Winter Games.