Documentary Lens Introduction
By Maryrose O'Neill
Educational Editorial Consultant
The contents of the Documentary Lens Web site and Teachers' guides for each theme offer Canadian elementary and high school teachers supplementary material for courses in Social Studies, History, Humanities, Native Studies, Language, Arts and Media. The guides feature learning activities linked to the six themes of the NFB film selections: Arts, Culture and Recreation; Cultural Diversity; Social Issues and the Economy; Science, Environment and Health; Politics and History; and War and Peace. The lesson plans and background information, all available online at the Documentary Lens Web site within each theme section, were written by teachers from across Canada. The Aboriginal Perspectives related site also offers interesting educational content.
For example, within the "Politics and History" and "War and Peace" sections of this site, you will find lessons to develop key concepts in Canadian curricula such as Change and Continuity, Citizenship, Identity, Culture and Interdependence. By viewing two NFB wartime films made in 1942, students analyze the purpose, message and intended audience for Voice of Action and Inside Fighting Canada. The lesson plan for the first film was written by Maureen Baron (M.A. Ed. Tech.; United Talmud Torahs Schools of Montreal, Ville St. Laurent, Québec) and for the second film, Peter Flaherty (Ph.D.; Department of Education, York University, Toronto, Ontario).
During the 1990s and early 2000s, Canadian provincial and territorial curricula placed more emphasis on such skills and competencies as inquiry, critical and creative thinking, historical and geographic thinking, communication, research, media literacy, decision making and participation. Today's curricula also encourage multiple perspectives.
The Documentary Lens selection of films, along with the Teacher's guides and lessons, will engage students in the kind of inquiry that will help develop multiple perspectives and curricular skills. Students are encouraged to explore the dimensions of their own world and appreciate how Canadians have dealt with complex issues in the past.