Canadian and World Studies, Grades 9-10

The Ontario Canadian and World Studies curriculum includes expecations that incorporate media and digital literacy skills. The document Canadian and World Studies (2013) includes a section that demonstrates the complementary relationship between the critical thinking of media education and Canadian and World Studies:

Critical thinking includes skills such as questioning, predicting, analysing, synthesizing, examining opinions, identifying values and issues, detecting bias, and distinguishing between alternatives. Students who are taught these skills become critical thinkers who can move beyond superficial conclusions to a deeper understanding of the issues they are examining. They are able to engage in an inquiry process in which they explore complex and multifaceted issues, and questions for which there may be no clear-cut answers.

Students use critical-thinking skills in Canadian and world studies when they assess, analyse, and/or evaluate the impact of something and when they form an opinion about something and support that opinion with a rationale. In order to think critically, students need to examine the opinions and values of others, detect bias, look for implied meaning, and use the information gathered to form a personal opinion or stance, or a personal plan of action with regard to making a difference.

In developing critical-thinking skills in Canadian and world studies, students must ask themselves effective questions in order to interpret information, detect bias in their sources, determine why a source might express a particular bias, and consider the values and perspectives of a variety of groups and individuals.

Critical literacy is the capacity for a particular type of critical thinking that involves looking beyond the literal meaning of a text to determine what is present and what is missing, in order to analyse and evaluate the text’s complete meaning and the author’s intent. Critical literacy goes beyond conventional critical thinking by focusing on issues related to fairness, equity, and social justice. Critically literate students adopt a critical stance, asking what view of the world the text advances and whether they find this view acceptable, who benefits from the text, and how the reader is influenced.

In Canadian and world studies, students who are critically literate are able, for example, to actively analyse media messages and determine potential motives and underlying messages. They are able to determine what biases might be contained in texts, media, and resource material and why that might be, how the content of these materials might be determined and by whom, and whose perspectives might have been left out and why. Students would then be equipped to produce their own interpretation of the issue. Opportunities should be provided for students to engage in a critical discussion of “texts”, which can include books (including textbooks), television programs, movies, web pages, advertising, music, gestures, oral texts, visual art works, maps, graphs, graphic texts, and other means of expression. Such discussions empower students to understand the impact on members of society that was intended by the text’s creators. Language and communication are never neutral: they are used to inform, entertain, persuade, and manipulate.