Learn­ing on Land and Wa­ter

How the Cana­dian Ca­noe Mu­seum’s ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams take teach­ing to an­other level


As ed­u­ca­tion man­ager at The Cana­dian Ca­noe Mu­seum, Karen Tay­lor en­cour­ages kids to dis­cover their own connections to the ar­ti­facts in the mu­seum’s col­lec­tion. She’s also com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing school cur­ric­ula through the sto­ries be­hind each craft on dis­play. “We can ex­plore so much through the ca­noe: art, sci­ence, so­cial stud­ies, ge­og­ra­phy, and, of course, First Na­tion, Métis and Inuit per­spec­tives,” she says. The ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams at the ccm are as di­verse as its col­lec­tion, from hands-on ex­plo­rations of the gal­leries to build­ing kayaks and carv­ing pad­dles. Last year, the ccm be­gan of­fer­ing vir­tual field trips, us­ing Skype to con­nect to classes across North Amer­ica and be­yond. “Live video calls from our ed­u­ca­tion staff give stu­dents an in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ence of the mu­seum in their class­rooms,” says Tay­lor. In its first year, the vir­tual pro­gram reached 1,600 stu­dents, the de­mand un­der­scor­ing the rel­e­vance of the mu­seum’s col­lec­tion as a source of learn­ing and dis­cov­ery. “Any­where you have peo­ple and wa­ter­ways there’s a cap­ti­vat­ing his­tory of pad­dled wa­ter­craft, whether we’re con­nect­ing with a class in Florida, near where an­cient dugouts were re­cently un­earthed, or with kids in a Man­i­toba town that was once a fur-trad­ing post,” notes Tay­lor. There are also plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to get kids on the wa­ter, in­clud­ing voyageur ca­noe ex­pe­di­tions — what bet­ter way to learn about the fur trade than pad­dling a 36-foot replica from that pe­riod of his­tory? “Our ex­pe­ri­en­tial, dis­cov­ery-ori­ented ap­proach al­lows stu­dents to shine,” says Tay­lor. “The mu­seum of­fers a unique con­nec­tion be­tween its col­lec­tion and an ac­tive, rel­e­vant, and chal­leng­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for chil­dren in a nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.”

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