The Best Kind of Learning


Centennial Park fountain in Dunnville, Ontario

This particular frieze was her favourite. Because it’s a girl. Because it’s a canoe. Because it reminds her of herself.

It reminds me of her too, but also of E. Pauline Johnson, one of my favourite Canadian poets. As we looked at the sculpted panel, I told my daughter all about the famous poet. We went home and read one of her poems, and my daughter was enthralled. We researched her life. And then, when I told my girl that Chiefswood, Johnson’s childhood home, was just a 30-minute drive from our own home, her eyes lit up.

We’ll be booking a visit soon. And she can’t wait.

I am convinced that the best history education, the kind of learning that sticks, isn’t obtained by reading dusty textbooks or memorizing useless facts. It’s when we follow rabbit trails and connect them to our own experiences.

It’s when we see ourselves in the past.

It’s when a canoe-loving girl points out a fountain in a park and a whole world of discovery opens up.


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