I have to say, I’m way more excited for socials this year than last year. Last year, we learned mainly about the founding of Canada. We covered the development of Canada from 1815 to 1914. My personal narrative for last year was simply to learn more about the founding on Canada. That I did, however, I was not very interested in what I learned. The complete opposite happened this year.
Even though it’s been a week into the new semester, already I’m interested in the topics discussed in class. My new goals for this semester are: Stay focused and interested in class discussions (something I didn’t do very well last year), stay up to date on major events happening in the world, and to learn more about what happened outside of Canada from 1750 to 1919. I’m confident I can accomplish all these goals because the topics taught this year in socials are all things I have an interest in.
The core competency that I would like to develop is the communication competency. The reason I would like to develop this competency is because I want to be able to share my thoughts with others, especially during the class discussions. This was one of the things that I wanted to improve from last year. My goal isn’t to immediately become the person who talks the most in the class, but rather to slowly join in and share my ideas.
The big idea that I’ve chosen to research is: disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies. I think that this idea can be seen everywhere we look, whether it be Columbus enslaving the natives, modern day politics or even your parents telling you to do the dishes. Ok, maybe the last one is a bit of a stretch, but the idea is still there: how much power we have affects how we treat others. Some examples of this from Howard Zinn’s: A People’s History of the United States are: “Total control led to total cruelty” (pg. 6) and “Columbus claimed he had seen a light the evening before. He got the reward” (pg. 3), both showing how Columbus abused his power even with his own people. I think that by remembering this big idea while I learn in class, I can further my understanding of why somebody does something.
Some curricular competencies I would like to develop are finding evidence and cause and consequence. Finding evidence is basically just looking for reliable and consistent evidence for any major or minor historical event. There will always be multiple sides to a story, and I would like to be able to paint my own picture using evidence from each side. An example of this would be the Canadian government and residential schools. The Canadian government believed that residential schools were helping the natives become “white”, which in their eyes was a good thing. However, the natives had a different outlook on these schools. If one were to only research evidence from the government’s point of view, they would have a highly incorrect and bias opinion. The second competency is cause and consequence. This is pretty self explanatory: how prevailing conditions, groups, or individuals affect events, decisions, and developments. An example of this would be Christopher Columbus and the natives he encountered. Columbus used the natives as slaves, drastically reducing their numbers until eventually there were none left. I believe these are both very important skills that can be used anywhere in life.
Finishing off with any questions that I have towards socials and what we are learning. My only question so far relates to one of the ethical points in Howard Zinn’s: A People’s History of the United States. The point Zinn made is: was bloodshed and deceit necessary for the human race to progress? Some examples of this are: Columbus and the natives, America and Hiroshima, Stalin and the peasants. I did some thinking and I honestly have no answer. I feel like it would be ironic to condemn these events if without them, we probably wouldn’t be here learning about these events today. It is extremely hard to have a discussion on whether or not this loss of human lives were worth it in the end because we are part of the privileged few that benefited from these events. I don’t believe I will ever find an answer, but I hope that through socials this year, I can clarify my view on this topic.
Here is to another great year of socials!