Hamilton Teacher to Receive Governor General’s History Award For Excellence In Teaching
Press Release from Canada’s History Society
Teacher inspires students to look at Canada’s past to build a better future
OTTAWA, January 15, 2019 — Hamilton teacher Paul Paterson asked his students to understand how yesterday’s decisions can impact today and challenged them to find solutions for a better tomorrow. Because of his unique class project, he will receive the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, will present the award to Paterson on January 28, 2019, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
Paterson, of Ridgeville, Ontario, teaches at Westmount Secondary School in Hamilton. He had his grade ten students form a “think tank,” to identify problems that their own families may face in Canada in fifty years and to propose solutions. He asked them to investigate how historical context and decisions impacted current policies, and to research different approaches other countries have taken.
“I challenged the students to figure out, ‘What problems does Canada face?’” he said, explaining that the project fell into his teaching mantra: “Don’t ask (students) what they want to learn — ask them what problems they want to solve.”
Paterson is one of seven recipients of the Excellence in Teaching Award, chosen from twenty-five finalists.
“With this award, we celebrate the extraordinary work of teachers who outdo themselves every day to shape our adults of tomorrow. Knowledge of our history is a fundamental element of this education. The winners certainly have a significant influence on their students, enabling them to understand their history through unique and innovative projects,” said Janet Walker, President and CEO of Canada’s History Society.
Paterson’s students tackled wide-ranging topics such as security in the northwest passage, immigration, healthcare, a growing older population, Canadian content in the film industry, and the impact of the oil sands. One pair of students researched and suggested ways to help reduce wait times in healthcare. The projects were showcased on a student-built website. Instead of a final exam, one class developed and held a press conference detailing their final proposals; a second class sent their policy ideas to experts and politicians to ask for feedback.
“It was cool to see them really take pride in their idea and push it forward and promote it,” said Paterson. “I thought that was a really important piece of the learning.”
“Congratulations to this year’s award winners of the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching,” said Andrea Barrack, Global Head, Sustainability and Corporate Citizenship, TD Bank Group. “At TD, we understand the instrumental role teachers play in shaping the future of our country.
Awards like Excellence in Teaching make it possible for us to continually celebrate educators who go above and beyond every day to creatively engage students in learning about Canada’s remarkable history.”
Each winner is awarded a $2,500 prize and a $1,000 prize for their school. For joint submissions, the prizes are shared. The award is administered by Canada’s History Society with support from TD Bank and EF Educational Tours.
About the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching
The Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching was established in 1996 to recognize teachers who have distinguished themselves through innovative projects that encourage their students to explore Canadian history while thinking historically about the past.
About Canada’s History Society
Canada’s History Society is a national charitable organization with a mission to promote greater popular interest in Canadian history through its magazines, Canada’s History (formerly The Beaver) and Kayak: Canada’s History Magazine for Kids, as well as its education and award programs.