Canadian schools accused of skirting history

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Canadian students are finishing high school without a basic understanding of their country's history, and schools are ignoring the subject in favour of a new fixation with math and science, says the Dominion Institute.

The private, Toronto-based advocacy group says provincial governments could help solve the problem by making Canadian history a mandatory requirement of high school graduation.

The institute's Remembrance Day poll - a national survey conducted last month of more than 1,000 Canadians - suggests the public would go even further. Eighty per cent of those surveyed said high schools should impose compulsory courses in 20th-century Canadian history, including a study of the First and Second World Wars.

Currently, only three provinces require high school students to study some Canadian history.

"Incredible as it seems, there are provinces where you can go through school and not be required to take a single course in Canadian history," said Rudyard Griffiths, executive director of the institute.

"I think it's having a pernicious effect on Canadians' knowledge of history. For one thing, we have high school graduates not being able to associate D-Day with the invasion of Normandy."

In Manitoba, Grade 11 students must take a general history course that includes a 20th-century Canadian component. Ontario has a compulsory Grade 10 Canadian history course that includes some study of the two World Wars, and Quebec has a mandatory Grade 11 course focused on the history of Quebec.

In all other provinces, Canadian history is either optional in high school or included piecemeal in broader social studies programs.

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