Incorporating local history into learning at home

By Taylor McClure, Special to The Record

With the doors of educational institutions closed for the time being, many families are currently trying to continue the learning process with their children at home. Luckily, there are many educational resources and materials that are made available online that can be taken advantage of. The Eastern Townships Resource Centre, the region’s archive centre, has educational materials online for both elementary and high school students that focus on Canadian, Quebec and Eastern Townships history. While designed for teachers, these tools are also useful at a time when learning is taking place outside of the classroom.
“The ETRC is an archive centre and we have the archival material that demonstrates the anglophone development in all of our region,” said Fabian Will, Executive Director of the Eastern Townships Resource Centre. “We have documents, diaries, photographs, everything you can find in an archive.”
It is these archives that were used to put together the ETRC educational materials, published in the summer of 2019, for elementary and high school teachers that are teaching Quebec history and want to incorporate local history in their lessons. “Our mandate is to share these treasures that we have. They are not only in boxes and consulted by researchers but they are to share with the community at large,” emphasized Will. “One way to do that is to develop educational materials that use archival documents from our collection to be used in the classroom, or in the current situation, at the kitchen table.”
While these materials were designed for teachers, they can be useful for any family that is trying to incorporate learning as part of their everyday routine with more time now being spent at home. “The advantage in that is that it’s something else other than maybe math and other topics where you find a lot on the web. Maybe the kids would feel for doing something else; like history. It’s something completely different.”
He added that the materials were also designed to be ready to use, no preparation necessary, visually appealing, and well-structured and that parents should have no trouble in following the materials if they want to try and use them at home.
The educational materials consist of three documents put together by an expert in the field that fit in with curriculum set forth by the Ministry of Education. “There is one for the teacher, or in this case the parent, explaining what’s happening in the exercise, how to use it, for which grade, and where to link it with the school program. One document is for the students that the exercises are in and where they have to fill in and write. The third document is the documentary record that has all of the images and the letters being used for the exercise.”
These materials cover three themes using the ETRC’s archives: Minnie H. Bowen’s Canada (creation of a Canadian federal regime), Agriculture: Dear Diary, and the development of the Eastern Townships by Loyalists.
Putting these materials together was all about filling in what Will referred to as a ‘gap’ in the history curriculum and sharing local Townships history with the community. “In the curriculum, there is nothing where kids learn explicitly about local history. We had to link materials to parts of the program where we can slip that in and make that connection to local history. I think the parents would learn a little bit about the region too.”
To access the learning materials offered by the ETRC, you can head on over to their website at They are available in both French and English.

Published in the Wednesday, April 1 edition of The Record.

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