Including Women: The Establishment and Integration of Canadian Women’s History Narratives into Toronto, Ontario Classrooms and Historic Sites 1966-1996 (Rose Fine-Meyer)
My doctoral research examines changes in history teaching as it relates to Canadian women in history courses in secondary schools in Ontario. I trace the work of historians, educators, women's organizations, historical site workers, and small publishers that include narratives of women to see what impact this has had on history education curriculum.
Using evidence related to formal curriculum documents, and, as a counterpoint, looking at how curricula were implemented in the classroom and other sites of history education, I am examining activities of grassroots publishing organizations, community groups, and historical sites, as well as reflections of practicing teachers themselves, that transformed the key, but often overlooked and under-researched 'practice' element of curriculum. As educational institutions responded to new policies during the 1970s and 1980s, demanding a re-examination of curriculum materials, women’s groups and educators took an active role in the development, publication, promotion, and dissemination of Canadian women’s history materials to teachers. I am discovering how these organizations were successful in achieving their goals, and how their work changed Canadian history teaching.
Although Canadian women’s history has, in the past thirty years, found a place in historical scholarship, it is unclear to what degree women’s historical narratives exist in history curricula and, more important, how the placement of materials helped shape a developing discourse. My years as a classroom teacher, author, and historical activist give me a unique vantage point regarding accessing the difficult-to-document aspects of the 'taught' curriculum and its influences. Through this study I hope to shed light on two subjects in Canadian historiography—gender equity in history education curriculum in Ontario, and the intersection of the work of community groups and education systems.
Here are some other things I’ve been up to in addition to this research:
In 2005 I developed a senior level secondary school interdisciplinary course, currently taught throughout Ontario, titled Archives and Local History, which links students to communities and organizations engaged in maintaining and preserving local history. Students have the opportunity to study their community and local history while developing advanced level research skills. They develop a clear understanding and appreciation of the connections that link their local community with those of national interest and concern. In 2007 I received the Governor General's Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History.
I have published a number of supplementary materials for secondary school history courses and contributed to articles, workshops and panels on Canadian women's history, local history, and archives. I have travelled across the country to promote Archives and Local History in an effort to develop more permanent links between students and local communities.
This past year I have given papers at the following organizations’ conferences: Canadian Historical Association (CHA), Ontario Women's History Network (OWHN), Association of Canadian Studies (ACS), Ontario History and Social Sciences Teachers’ Association (OHASSTA), Canadian Committee on Women's History (CCWH), and Canadian History of Education Association (CHEA). My publications include “Still Listed in the Index: Positioning Women’s Narratives in Canadian History Course Materials” for the ACS, and "’We Never Blew Our Own Horn Enough ... Typical Women!’ The Work of the Ontario Women's History Network to Promote Women's Narratives in Public School History Courses,”which will appear in a collection edited by Nancy Janovic and Catherine Carstairs, published by UBC Press.
Also, with fellow history doctoral student Kate Zankowicz, I recently developed a Toronto-based forum for those interested in women’s history called Herstories Cafe.
I currently teach a course about gender equity in schools and classrooms at the University of Toronto. I am also part of a research team at U of T examining the work of teachers as well as issues related to gender equity in classrooms.