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Grad Student Committee Update: Catching up with Rose Fine-Meyer

Posted by Dr. Rose Fine-Meyer
19 August 2015 - 1:14pm

Dr. Rose Fine-Meyer

Since graduating with my PhD in 2012, I have continued to write and research in the area of history/social studies education in Canada, specifically in Ontario, which explores the relationships between provincially sanctioned curricula, teacher pedagogical practices, and place-based learning experiences, both in the past and in the present. I have also been teaching in the Master of Teaching program at OISE/University of Toronto.

Using my doctoral work as a springboard, which looked at how social movement widespread activism spilled into a range of educational circles and influenced history teachers in altering curricula to include women in course studies, I have subsequently published work on the activism of the Ontario Women’s History Network (OWHN), a group of feminist academics and educators in Ontario, formed in the 1980s, to address the problems faced by teachers in accessing resources about or by women. OWHN organized workshops, conferences and networks to promote teaching, research, and public accessibility to Canadian women’s history. My chapter, "The Ontario Women’s History Network: Linking Teachers, Scholars, and History Communities,” is in the book edited by Catherine Carstairs and Nancy Janovicek, Feminist History in Canada: New Essays on Women, Gender, Work, and Nation UBC Press, 2013) explores their work. I include a set of oral histories with members of OWHN to demonstrate the ways in which grassroots activism was instrumental in affecting educational outcomes and an essential part of bringing women’s historical experiences into schools in Ontario.

A number of my publications incorporate narratives with educators who approach teaching with an equity lens. In an article I contributed to in Curriculum Inquiry, (March 2014), I provide the results of research on the relationship between teacher work and policy development in advocating for new equity courses in Ontario. My research uncovered how teachers developed stand-alone courses that addressed what they perceived as gaps in the curriculum. I argue that their curriculum development (curriculum activism) found its way from classrooms into provincial-level courses; specifically in my research, for the gender equity course, now offered as a grade 11 course in Ontario. For this study, I interviewed teachers who were on the writing team for the Ontario Ministry of Education. The study took place a few years before the new equity courses were launched so it provides insight into curriculum development.

My scholarship is also deeply informed by my practice, in particular the work I have done to ground history/social studies education practices in community based knowledges and understandings. My investigations explore the ways in which committed educators, community members, educational reformers, activists, and others, have an impact in the classroom, in schools and in the community. In short, how the world around the school, and the socio-historical/geographical moment of a place leaks into the classroom and can affect real change within the curricula and within students’ experiences.

My work challenges the traditional school model that separates the experiences students have outside the schools, from that which they experience in the classroom. I begin each new class at the University of Toronto with a walk through the grounds of philosophers walk and ask students to find evidence of a buried river. They look at the trees, the bridges that cross the path, and the ways in which the land dips and curves. For many, this is their first direct engagement with this space. I am currently completing an article that explores the impact of place-based initiatives within a Faculty of Education that is based on my teaching the past 3 years. What I have found is students’ ability to connect with themselves as learners—reflecting on the very personal lens they employed in completing the tasks and suggesting the beginnings of historical/geographical consciousness. I explore the advantages and challenges of place-based initiatives for history/social studies teachers in my chapter, “Engendering Power and Legitimation: Giving Teachers the Tools to Claim a Place for History Education in Their Schools” in the publication Becoming a History Teacher in Canada: Sustaining Practices in Historical Thinking (Ruth Sandwell, Amy von Heyking, 2014). My chapter represents a strategy that was already in practice, a place-based Interdisciplinary course (IDC4UI) that I was commissioned to write for the Ontario Ministry of Education, which was offered in the school in which I taught, and for which I received a Governor General’s award. This year, I will be testing some of the course materials that I have developed as stand-alone units for Social Studies classes in Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec, and welcome any interested teachers in their involvement in this project!

My work also involves networking within a wide range of communities. As a member of THEN/HiER, I led Approaching the Past workshops. More recently I have developed a teacher/teacher candidate mentorship program to provide opportunities for educators to test and share best practices in classrooms in Toronto. I also initiated a grassroots women’s history talk series, funded by THEN/HiER and the city of Toronto, which has developed online curriculum resources for teachers. The talk series won a Heritage Toronto Community award in 2012, providing curriculum resources for use in classrooms and continues today. I have written about this work in an unpublished article (submitted for publication) with Kate Zankowicz, using HerstoriesCafe as a case study for museum practitioners who are seeking to recognize diverse community knowledges in their museums. I am also vice-president of the Ontario Heritage Fairs Association (OHFA) which was recognized this June with the 2015 Ontario History Society (OHS) President’s award and, as well, I was Guest Editor of a special edition of Ontario History journal (“Women and Education in Ontario,” Ontario History Journal (Toronto: OHS, Vol. 107, No. 1 Spring 2015) which recognizes my work in women’s history, heritage and education. I am currently in talks with a colleague on a joint project in oral histories and women teachers.

My current research focuses on history textbooks and teacher pedagogy. I have been fortunate to work with Cate Duquette (UQAC) on a joint paper that compares the teaching of the First World War in both Quebec and Ontario textbooks. This cross-provincial approach is deeply enriching in terms of the kinds of historical analysis and comparisons one can do with the research. As well, I have just completed a chapter “Our duty is to produce more and to waste nothing”: Reconfiguring the gaps between home front and battle narratives in school history textbooks in Ontario, 1921-2001" that I have submitted as part of an international peer-reviewed book collection (Palgrave/Macmillan) on the History of Textbooks and War, which was in response to a paper that I presented at the ISCHE conference in London, UK, 2014, with expected publication in 2016.

This year, several book chapters were also published, including a chapter that explored teacher’s pedagogical focus on peace education in a book on the history of anti-war activism in Canada that builds on work I did around teachers and activism, by honing in on the experience of teachers who were activists and how they dealt with the glorification of war, and ideas about war, within their classroom during a time of great conflict and pacifist action 1960s-90s. My chapter, “A Good Teacher Is a Revolutionary: Alternative War Perspectives in Toronto Classrooms from the 1960s to the 1990s” in Lara Campbell, Michael Dawson, eds., Worth Fighting For: Canada’s Tradition of War Resistance from 1812 to the War on Terror (Toronto: BTL Press, 2015) is part of a collection of essays documenting the history of war resistance in Canada. My chapter explores how teachers, active in Vietnam anti-war activism, and anti-nuclear war activism, brought their social activism to help shape what was taught in the classroom. The networking between parents, teachers and communities to bring anti-war narratives and peace education into the classroom was central to the Toronto scene, affecting curriculum development, teacher pedagogy and resources teachers could access.

My research expands the study of curricular change. My work provides an analysis of the interplay between official curricula, teacher pedagogy and practice, and student learning. I regularly give papers at academic conferences, for the CHA and CSSE, at The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, and at CHEA, and ISCHE. This May, 2015, I gave papers at the "Contesting Canada's Future," International Conference at Trent University, as part of its 50th

Anniversary Celebrations, and at the CSSE as part of The Congress in Ottawa. I also recently published an article for Rapport (OHASSTA) magazine about inquiry-based learning (June 2015). I also give workshops and talks. You can find me at:

Thank you. Rose