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Canada

Challenging students to learn from past earns Hamilton teacher high honour

A Hamilton teacher challenged his students to find examples of the past that could help with creating a better tomorrow.

That teaching project has earned Paul Paterson the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching, which he will receive Jan. 28 from Canadian Governor General Julie Payette at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

The Westmount Secondary School teachers asked his Grade 10 students identify problems Canadian families may face in 50 years and propose solutions based on historical decisions made in the past.

“I challenged the students to figure out ‘what problems does Canada face,’” Paterson said, adding the best method of teaching is to ask students what they want to solve as opposed to what they want to learn.

Paterson’s students tackled issues such as security in the northwest passage, immigration, healthcare, an aging population and the impact of the oil sands.

One pair of students researched and suggested ways to help reduce wait times in healthcare.

The projects were showcased on a student-built website.

“It was cool to see them really take pride in their idea and push it forward and promote it,” said
Paterson. “I thought that was a really important piece of the learning.”

Paterson is one of seven recipients of the Excellence in Teaching Award.

“With this award, we celebrate the extraordinary work of teachers who outdo themselves every day
to shape our adults of tomorrow. Knowledge of our history is a fundamental element of this education,” said Janet Walker, president of Canada’s History Society.

“The winners certainly have a significant influence on their students, enabling them to understand their
history through unique and innovative projects.”

kconnor@postmedia.com

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