Originally Posted: June 2010
How often have you thought about the relationship between Canada and the United States and how important that relationship is? According to a 2010 study commissioned by the Embassy, based on 2008 data, 8 million US jobs depend on trade with Canada. Canada is also the United States’ largest supplier of imported energy.
On May 24 and 25, I attended the Canada and the American Curriculum: A Conference on State and National Perspectives on Canada in the US K-12 Curriculum. I was invited by the Canadian Studies Center at the University of Washington because of my leadership in social studies education in Washington State. The purpose of the conference was to work toward the goal of ensuring American students learn more about Canada through the K-12 curriculum and ensure that our students have a deeper understanding of our neighbors to the north. Without a doubt, this would improve Canadian-US relations.
We are fortunate in Washington state that we have the University of Washington’s Canadian Studies Center and the Center for Canadian-American Studies at Western Washington University. When Dr. Christopher Kirkey, Director of the Center for the Study of Canada at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, presented during a session on “The K-12 National Directory on Canada: A Profile,” it was quite obvious that we have done some great things in Washington state regarding Canada and including it in the K-12 curriculum. It is not required, but it is an excellent option for K-12 educators to use the resources, lessons, and classroom-based assessments in their classrooms.
Ms. Nadine Fabbi, Associate Director of the Canadian Studies Center at the University of Washingotn, and Ms. Kelly Martin, Social Studies and International Education Program at the Washington state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), were on a panel on “State Perspectives on K-12: Canada and the American Curriculum.” They talked about what we have been doing in Washington state and what more we can do.
Amy Wilson, International Education Programs Service and program office for Canada, served on a panel outlining the purposes of the conference. The keynote address, “Canada and International Education in the United States,” was provided by Mr. Andre W. Lewis, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International and Foreign Language Education in the United States.
Where do we go from here? I have promised that the Washington State Council for the Social Studies will continue to support the teaching of Canada in the K-12 curriculum. This includes our Fall In-Service in Edmonds in October, the K-8 conference in late January/early February, and the spring conference in Chelan in March. We will also continue to promote UW’s and WWU’s “K-12 Study Canada” programming.
This project was supported, in part, by funding from the Center’s Title VI grant, US Department of Education, Office of International Education Programs Service.