Andrea Eidinger and Krista McCracken
Being a historian is as much about being an educator as a researcher. And yet, most academic historians receive little to no training in pedagogy. Though there are many history education resources aimed k-12 teachers, there is substantially less for those interested in critically engaging with history education at the post-secondary level. During their tenure, THEN/HiER and the Historical Thinking Project created spaces for conversations around history education. However, in the years since the conclusion of both projects, these conversations have gone largely silent.
In March 2018 we launched a monthly series on ActiveHistory.ca dedicated to teaching Canadian history at the post-secondary level. This series has – and continues to – create a space to expand perspectives, deepen insights, and challenge assumptions about history education. The series has presented us with an opportunity to both highlight the wonderful work already being done by educators across the country while also providing us with a forum to circulate these ideas more widely. Because it is clear that even though many of us lack formal training in pedagogy, there is a lot of careful thought that goes into designing history courses and classes. At the same time, the series has created an online community where educators can share and circulate ideas, learn from each other, collaborate, and continue to grow.
Our decision to create an ebook was inspired by a desire to extend the life of the original Beyond the Lecture blog posts and to highlight the broad themes which have emerged throughout the series. This open access ebook also developed out of the enthusiasm, insight, and conversations that were sparked by the Beyond the Lecture blog series. This book compiles pieces from the Beyond the Lecture series and the Active History site more broadly, as well as blogs like Borealia, The Otter/La loutre, and Unwritten Histories. It also builds more broadly on discussions taking place at all levels about the value of a university education and the importance of history as a field and a discipline.
Our cover image, illustrated by the talented Ojibwe artist Taylor Jolin, was inspired by the sense of community and growth that we hoped to evoke within these digital pages. The circular shape embodies our feelings of continuity and change, endless possibility and opportunity, and overcoming challenges. We envision the book as a kind of sharing circle where individuals that are separated across vast distances can come together in spaces where we can be both brave and safe.
The blueberries represent and recognize the importance of place, locating us within the land currently called Canada, and recognizing the forever history of this land. We strongly believe in the importance of centring Indigenous perspectives, though we recognize the challenge of acknowledging territory in digital projects like this one. In lieu of a traditional territorial acknowledgement, and in consideration of the fact that the scholars in this book come from across Turtle Island, we would instead encourage settler scholars to become aware of the history of the land they live on and to learn about the history of the Indigenous communities connected to that land. The history of the land we currently call Canada did not start in 1867. When considering the use of territorial acknowledgements we recommend reading âpihtawikosisân‘s post on “Beyond Territorial Acknowledgements” as a starting place.
As public and digital historians, we strongly believe in the principles of open-access, and are committed to making our work accessible to communities and scholars both in and outside academia. By making this publication freely available we aim to reduce socio-economic barriers to knowledge, while promoting equality of access.
While organizing this project, we were committed to the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion by bringing together a range of perspectives and ways of knowing. We remain committed to uplifting the voices of contingent/precarious academics, as well as female, trans, non-binary, Indigenous, Black, non-Black People of Colour, queer*, disabled, and other marginalized scholars and communities.
We hope that readers find as much inspiration in this publication as we did.