From the Battlefield to the Classroom: Teachers from Across Canada Engage with Canada’s Military Past on the Cleghorn Battlefield Tour (July 8 – 21, 2012)

Most of us know the names of Vimy, Passchendaele and Juno Beach. Most of us know the haunting words of John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields.” Not many of us, though, get the opportunity to walk the battlefields of Europe and engage in meaningful discussion on how best to convey that material to Canada’s youth. This year, seventeen educators from across the country will get that chance as they participate in the 2012 Cleghorn Battlefield Tour for Highschool History Teachers.

The Cleghorn Battlefield study tour is an annual event organized by the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies and The Milton F. Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society. The tour was made possible by a generous donation from John and Patti Cleghorn. This year’s participants feature educators from across Canada. The tour is being led by Dr. Lee Windsor (Deputy Director the Gregg Centre at UNB), Cindy Brown, and Blake Seward, all of whom will take the teachers to the important sites of the First and Second World Wars.

Themselves veterans of many tours, the Cleghorns have praised Terry Copp and the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS) for developing “a program of battlefield study tours that take Canadian university students, high school teachers and young military officers to visit the battlefields and study them in a way that is not possible in the classroom.” For the Cleghorns, “reading about the wars is one thing, but to actually see the ages of the young men on the tombstones is quite another.” Through the Cleghorns’ generous support, every participant receives a bursary that covers all costs except their flight to France.

This year’s Cleghorn tour features a diverse group of educators. Saskatchewan native Robert Jardine has been in the classroom for more than sixteen years while Lindsay Newton of Brantford, Ontario, has just graduated from the concurrent education program offered through Wilfrid Laurier University/Nippissing University. The group also includes more diverse educators, like Laurier fourth year history student Eric Deslauriers, who works as a youth care worker in an Ontario justice facility. Many in the facility struggle with learning disabilities and Deslauriers hopes to use his experience on the battlefields to engage these students in unique ways.

Each day the teachers will visit battle sites, monuments, and military cemeteries. On the ground they will discuss and challenge their own understanding of war as well as the lasting memory of the two conflicts. At night the discussion focuses on how to best bring what they have learned to the classroom. While education is controlled at the provincial level, Canada’s military history is one subject that enters the classroom in all regions of this country.

By challenging existing myths, introducing teachers to decision making exercises, and recapping each day with a discussion on how best to incorporate their experience into meaningful classroom outcomes, students across the country will benefit from this teacher experience.

 The Guides (external profiles):

Biographical information submitted by the participants:

Robert Jardine  Blaine Lake Composite School (Saskatchewan, AB)

“I am in my sixteenth year of teaching and my fourth at Blaine Lake Composite, where I teach primarily Social Studies, Native Studies and History in grades 7-12. My interest in military history comes from two influences: being named for my great-uncle who was killed 10 Aug 1918 during the Battle of Amiens, and listening to the stories of my grandfather who was a Major in the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in WW2. In 2007, I became the first member of my extended family to see my great-uncle’s name on the Vimy Memorial – it remains one of the most moving experiences of my life.”

Dave Sullivan – Educator, Graduate student, Memorial University

Dave Sullivan has been a practicing theatre artist in Newfoundland and Labrador for the past 15 years. Currently he is about to embark on his thesis in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Studies at Memorial University.

Adrianna Wild – Teacher, Saint Helena Junior High (Calgary, AB)

“I am a humanities/ AISI (Alberta Initiative for School Improvement) junior high teacher for the Calgary Catholic School District, though in the fall I will be an AP (Assistant Principal). I love teaching humanities, and am especially interested in history which focuses on the two World Wars. For my Language Arts 7 classes this year, I included a Remembrance Day unit in November which focused on the First World War and included a field trip to Calgary’s Military Museum.”

Marsha Bultena – Concurrent Education student, Wilfrid Laurier University (Brantford)

“I have been a concurrent education student for two years at Laurier Brantford. It has always been my ambition to travel to Europe, and the opportunity to see the major battlefields has me very excited. I love everything to do with history, so to see so many places of historical significance is an amazing opportunity.”

Correen Barrett – Teacher / M.A. student, University of New Brunswick / M.Ed candidate, University of New Brunswick

“I teach high school level nine and ten Literacy and grade nine and ten Social Studies. I am also a part time Masters of Education student through the University of New Brunswick working on a degree in Educational Administration and Leadership. My grandfather was a WWII veteran and sparked my interest in military history. Learning about the wars has always been a passion of mine, both personally and in my teaching. I try to engage students in the learning so they develop a passion and appreciation for what our veterans have done for us. I am thrilled to be selected as part of such a wonderful program. I am looking forward to this once in a life time learning experience and then bringing this knowledge back home to my students and community.”

Tanya Parent – Teacher, Saint James the Greater (Smith Falls, ON)

“I am currently teaching in the primary division and hold my education qualification in primary, junior and intermediate. My focus as a teacher is providing students with information from many different points of view and asking them to form their own opinions.”

Nick Kellner – M.A. student, McMaster University

“I have a long standing interest in the First and Second World Wars and am very excited to be given a chance to tour the actual battlefields and memorials that hold a link to Canada’s military history. I have researched Canadian soldiers’ letters and diaries from the Great War previously, and am currently working on a research project involving Brantford soldiers’ letters from the Boer War. My interests lie in state and self-censorship of trench letters and in the study of myth and memory surrounding Canada’s role in the Great War. I also enjoy cinema and historical documentaries concerning both wars, and greatly enjoy reading trench poetry. It is ‘sweet and fitting’ to be awarded a spot on this trip!”

Dave Alexander – Teacher, Owen Sound Collegiate and Vocational Institute (Owen Sound, ON)

“If anything as a teacher of history, I’ve tried to act as an intermediary in helping facilitate connections between a younger generation of Canadians and this older generation of Canadians who served us so well. We have been very fortunate to have hosted many Veterans who spoke about of their wartime experiences at the Owen Sound Collegiate and Vocational Institute. Many of our students have researched and written stories about alumni, who served overseas during the wars of the last century, participated in battlefield trips to Europe making pilgrimages to Canadian War Cemeteries to pay homage to Canada’s war dead and surveyed the battlefields upon which they fought. I look forward with much anticipation to the Cleghorn War and Memory Study Tour.”

Rose-Marie Wright – Teacher, Leo Hayes High School (Fredericton, NB) / M.A. candidate, Critical Studies, University of New Brunswick

“I teach both Social Studies 9 Immersion and French immersion Language Arts 9. I have completed a Bachelor of Arts degree and a bachelor of Education and I am now working on a Master’s degree in Critical Studies at U.N.B.”

Alexandra PapazoglouM.A. Education student, University of Toronto

As a trained high school teacher, Alexandra holds a Bachelor of Education  from McGill University. She is currently writing her thesis on the Women’s Canadian Club of Montreal and their role in commemorating and supporting both world wars in the 20th century.

Kathie McGregor – Teacher

“I love teaching about the historical roots and development of Canada. As a High School Social Studies teacher, I am passionate about integrating technology and historical thinking into the 21st C classroom. I recently completed a Masters of Educational Technology and last summer attended UBC’s Historical Thinking Institute. “

Lindsey Newton – Concurrent Education recent graduate, Wilfrid Laurier University / Nipissing University

“Over the past five years I have worked towards achieving my goal of becoming a teacher, and am now qualified to teach grades 4-12 with a major in History and Social Sciences and a minor in English. My interest in History and desire to make the subject interesting and relatable for students is what encouraged me to apply for this study tour. I hope to use what I learn to make Canadian History come alive. Aside from my schooling I enjoy traveling, volunteering and reading in my spare time.”

Ryan Macmanaman – Teacher, Owen Sound Collegiate and Vocational Institute

“I have been fortunate enough to be able to teach history for the majority of my career to date. History, particularly Canadian history, has been my passion for years. Our school has an extensive history and our students have had the opportunity to research and write stories about alumni who served and I have also had the opportunity to participate in battlefield pilgrimages to help students contemplate the sacrifices of previous generations. I am looking forward to the professional and personal development the Cleghorn War and Memory Study Tour is sure to provide.”

Donita DupliseaTeacher / M.A. candidate at University of New Brunswick

“I have taught a full range of courses including English, Canadian and World History, Human Geography, World Issues, Law, Learning Strategies, World Religions, ESL, FSL and Anthropology, Psychology and Sociology.  Currently, I am taking a personal leave to pursue my Masters in Education.I often feel that students sometimes miss the fact that History is not a plethora of isolated incidents, but rather it is something that is combined and reflected in our everyday lives.”

Helen Smith-MacPhail – Teacher, Stonepark Intermediate School (Charlottetown, PEI) / M.A. Education candidate, Acadia University

Helen is passionate about teaching students about Canada’s contribution to both world wars. She has been teaching at the intermediate level for eight years. Helen worked for ten years in the agricultural field before pursuing a Bachelor of Education at the University of Prince Edward Island. Presently, she is completing her Masters of Education in Leadership at Acadia University.

Sarah Delsynder – M.A. student, McMaster University / B.Ed candidate, Queen’s University

“I completed my Bachelor of Arts with a double major in English and History at Trent University. My research is focused on equestrian sports, especially during the interwar era. I will be attending Queen’s University in September 2012 to complete my final year of the Queen’s-Trent Concurrent Education Program.”

Eric Deslauriers – Undergraduate student, Wilfrid Laurier University

“I have a passion for history, and also have aspirations to teach it in the future. Currently I work at a detention-custody facility under Youth Justice Ontario as a youth care worker. We have high school classrooms embedded in our facility and as such we work closely with the teachers and the youth. In this respect, the Cleghorn tour is of particular interest to me because I am eager to learn more about the pedagogical approach to presenting history in the classroom in an engaging manner. As well, since learning disabilities are significantly over-represented in the youth justice system, I have a specific interest in how to best package history for youth with learning difficulties. I hope that my experience with these youth will provide a unique perspective to the tour.”

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  1. Lane Gray -  July 31, 2012 - 5:51 pm 836

    Good looking group. No where near as good looking a group as last year though.
    I had the opportunity to participate in the tour last year and this is by far the greatest PD I have been involved in. Blake, Lee and Cindy really did a great job in making us rethink history. My students are benefitting already.
    If anyone out there is considering this tour in the future, please apply, you will be happy you did. It is certainly the trip of a life time. I would love to do it again and I an considering the Italian tour sometime in the future.
    Lane Gray

  2. Marsha Bultena -  August 8, 2012 - 11:36 am 845

    I knew before I left that everyday on this trip would contribute to the chance of a lifetime. I learned so much on the trip about tactics, losses, the definitions of failure and success, and everything to do with how the war was fought. Cindy, Blake, Lee and Allen did a fabulous job as leaders, especially with tying what we saw and learned to a classroom perspective. I cannot wait to graduate university and take what I have learned and pass it on to my students. If you are hesitant about applying for this trip, take it from me: you will NOT be disappointed.

  3. Lindsey Newton -  August 9, 2012 - 4:52 pm 850

    Thank you so much for providing this great opportunity! Through experiencing the Great War and the Second World War first hand, my eyes were opened to new perspectives about what went on during these wars and how our history has been relayed and taught in the past. I look forward to sharing what I have learned about the unknown battles, military tactics, civilian experiences and new historical literature with my future students. This was an amazing experience!

  4. Joanne Nicholls -  August 9, 2012 - 7:57 pm 851

    I agree with Lane!
    This trip, for me, was life changing.
    Thank you to Lee Cindy and Blake for giving us so much to think about and to learn.
    I owe you guys a lot!

  5. Alexandra Papazoglou -  August 29, 2012 - 2:57 pm 922

    I learnt and experienced many things on my two week Cleghorn Battlefield Tour. For starters, the tour without a doubt changed the way I view the role of primary documents in my classroom. The full day discussions that often went into the wee hours of the night inspired me to keep pushing my own personal limits, comfort zone and thinking process. We challenged everything. Every assumption, every fact we had ever been given and every way we had ever taught it. I learnt a great deal from my colleagues on how various provinces, cities and towns run their schools. I learnt about resources I had never heard of. In the end it truly felt like a community of individuals coming together to push and make one another better history teachers. The discussions with Blake Seward, Lee Windsor, Cindy Brown and Alen Sears helped give it a more academic yet practical approach for my classroom. I now see history and citizenship in everything that I teach. I know that reaching into the community is as much beneficial for them as it is for my students. Lastly, the tour has given me two new guiding questions that I swear by: How do I know what I know and why do my students need to know it?

    I am so grateful for the experience I had on this tour and will continue to strongly recommend it to anyone interested.

  6. Tanya Parent -  September 2, 2012 - 8:19 pm 933

    My eyes have been opened to a broader perspective of teaching history. It was an emotional rollercoaster that changed my life forever. I truly appreciate the opportunity and enjoy the way that Blake, Lee and Cindy modeled great teaching tactics. I recommend all teachers involved in teaching Social Studies consider this PD.


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