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Shortcuts & Segways: The Infamous Heritage Minutes

Posted by Caitlin Johnson
6 February 2012 - 10:48am

Sitting at home watching CTV during my early years when my family only had what we like to call, “country cable,” or the two channels you got when you lived in the boonies, I was raised on the Heritage Minutes played during commercial breaks.  This is where I found myself, for the first time, really interested in our history, through these one-minute snippets about the various heros and heroines of Canada, and the events, both good and bad, that have shaped us as a nation  For many youth this is where their first encounter with our history starts; some students, like myself, come to love the dramatic narratives that rise out of these small, well-crafted pieces of film. 

The Heritage Minutes provide teachers with instant ways to springboard into new topics in class, opportunities for enthusiasm and relevance for their students in their own history, as well as depicts pivotal moments in Canada’s development as a country, and as a people.  I was drawn to the Heritage Moments during my own high school experience in Canadian History class, while teaching history myself, and now again during my Public History class that I’m currently taking at SMU.  A week of our class is devoted to looking at the Heritage Minutes, and one of our main assignments is to write a script for our own Heritage Minute.  At twenty-four years of age I still love the Heritage Minutes and the fact that they are still relevant, and found it very funny to see so many of my classmates (ages 20-50!) excited for this assignment and still loving the Minutes too!  

The Historica-Dominion Institute produced the Heritage Minutes, and also provides lesson plans to go along with most of the minutes they have created over the years to use in differing grade levels, ranging from elementary to high school.  From the drop down menu located on their Education page online, you can choose ‘The Minutes,’ and then choose which minute you’d like to focus on with your class.  If that isn’t a short cut, I don’t know what is!

To find out more, visit the Historica website and their Education page.

Do you have any short cuts that you’ve used in the classroom that you’d like to share?