Academic Insights: TCS Social Sciences Department

Travel Education Tour of Ottawa

As the midpoint in Trinity College School’s academic calendar approaches and students are back from their Christmas break, there is renewed energy and enthusiasm on the third floor of the W.A. Johnson Classroom Block (and the lower level of LeVan Hall), home to the Senior School’s social sciences classes. To complement last year’s fresh new paint job, faculty member Mr. Greg MacPherson and faculty intern Ms. Madeline Rodgers have set about redecorating the walls upstairs. Ms. Rodgers joined the department in September and has been busy as the primary resource for classroom coverages, but also spends her time supporting teachers in a variety of subjects. Her training is in Special Education, so her influence in the classroom has been especially welcome.

One of the noticeable changes made by Mr. MacPherson and Ms. Rodgers is the installation of a large bulletin board that serves to underscore a central theme in the social sciences, which is experiential learning. One of the goals of the department is to truly embrace the idea of experiencing the curriculum outside of the normal classroom setting, and to that end, teachers have been seeking such opportunities.

The environment and resource management course made its annual trip to the local Ganaraska River in September to observe the fall migration of Pacific salmon to their upstream spawning beds. This is a treat for anyone to witness and the banks of the Ganaraska are often crowded with curious tourists during the fall. Mr. Campbell Hall regularly seizes this opportunity and conducts his lesson beside the fish-ladder as a more meaningful way to address conservation techniques.

During the mid-November break, Mr. MacPherson and Ms. Renée Hillier took a group of students to Washington, D.C. What better way to experience American history and politics than to visit the nation’s capital? It was an exceptional time to go as it was also Veterans Day weekend and American pride was on full display. Highlights included an evening tour of the monuments and memorials as well as visits to the Capitol Building and the Vietnam War Exhibition at the National Archives.

In December, during Week Without Walls, the Travel Education portion of the Grade 10 Canadian History and English classes journeyed to Ottawa as a bit of a dress rehearsal for their more extensive March Break trip to the battlefields of Europe. Like the American history trip, students were immersed in the political culture of our own nation’s capital and took in the more significant offerings such as the Parliament Buildings and the Canadian War Museum.

Mr. Blair Keiser’s law classes are particularly fortunate this month to step out of the classroom for a day in order to attend court. Students will tour Toronto’s Superior Court of Justice in the morning and sit in on live trials. In the afternoon, the group will get another fantastic experience at Ontario’s Court of Appeal. There, Justice J.M. Fairburn has kindly agreed to host a Q & A session. Ms. Rodgers is to be credited with the initiative and organization of this incredible opportunity.

And finally, the flagship Travel Education trip departs in early March to Belgium, France and Poland. This has long been the jewel of experiential learning in the social sciences, and for good reason. For the past 16 years, Mr. David Ingram and Ms. Barb Brough have perfected this once in a lifetime opportunity for students to better appreciate Canada’s involvement in both world wars. Features from that tour include visits to Flanders Fields, Dieppe, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, and Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.

Looking ahead, faculty member Ms. Stephanie May will be departing on parental leave towards the end of January. We are pleased that Ms. Rodgers will be taking over the Grade 11 Forces of Nature course for the remainder of the year. Ms. Melissa Papp, having taught in the social sciences last year, will be returning to the department to handle the four Grade 9 Canadian Geography sections. It is an exciting shuffle that will undoubtedly be well received by the students.

- By Blair Keiser, head of social sciences