Catherine MacDonald

Recipient of the 2013 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching

November 19, 2013
Canada's History speaks to Cathy MacDonald about her hands-on archaeological classroom project.

Fr. L.J. Austin Catholic Secondary School, Whitby (Ontario)

"History in their Hands: Creating Young Historians Through Archaeology" developed out of a grade twelve native studies and archaeology credit which Cathy has taught since 1996.  Many graduates from this program have gone on to careers in archaeology and history. Due to this success, Cathy was asked by the Director of the Durham Catholic District School Board to extend the program to the elementary panel.  To date over 800 elementary students have participated and have had the opportunity to participate in an archaeological excavation and to write about the history they have helped to uncover.

Archaeology enables students to go beyond the textbook and the walls of the classroom and become historians themselves by discovering Canada’s past. All students have unique gifts, talents and interests that are not necessarily served by a singular approach to education. Archaeology interests students in history because of  its’ multidisciplinary and experiential nature.  It is the ideal subject to reach a wide audience of students by appealing to their unique interests and learning styles.  It combines virtually all subject areas including history, math, sciences, art, and communication. It promotes leadership, physical activity and is by its very nature hands on and experiential. Students develop critical thinking and problem solving in their preferred learning style. They get to be historians who write the unknown chapters of Canada’s history.