Last night, I helped my 14-year-old daughter with her Gr. 8 history homework. She struggles quite a lot with history. So would I, if I had to deal with assigned readings that were wrong.
A handout, written by an education materials company, claimed Sir John A. Macdonald was the leader of the Conservatives of Canada East (Quebec). He, according to the bumpf, entered into a coalition in 1864 with the leader of the Ontario Reform Party, George Brown.
Ummmm... that's not quite how it worked. The good people of Kingston would be rather amazed to find Macdonald was a Quebec politician.
Macdonald was in a political alliance with George Etienne Cartier, leader of the Parti Bleu bloc from Quebec. Brown's support helped Macdonald and Cartier pull together enough Canadian MPs to start the Confederation ball rolling.
The writers of the handout may have believed Macdonald, as leader of the Conservatives, represented both Canada East and Canada West tories, while Brown's Reformers were a Canada West party (leaving their alliance with Dorion and the Parti Rouge out of the equation). But that would be a mis-reading of the situation, since Macdonald had no ability to "whip" Cartier and the Bleus into supporting anything. In fact, MPs of the time were quite independent.
I'm amazed the authors of the material made Macdonald a Quebec politician and left out Cartier altogether. I suspect the stuff was written in the States.
Today, the Globe runs yet another op-ed piece on the lack of teaching of Canadian history in schools.
I am not sure we need more Canadian history, especially if it's at the expense of world history. Canadian history simply doesn't make sense if you don't know American and European history.
It would also help if teachers actually knew Canadian history and could spot whoppers like the stuff I found.
I wrote a note to the teacher offering to re-write the handout so it was accurate. It will be interesting to see if I hear anything back.