Dear Mr. James
While thinking about how to answer your question many possible answers crossed my mind. I do my best to teach my students things I believe will be meaningful in their lives, and it is for that reason I have decided to share with you the things that I teach my students that I wish every Canadian knew.
When I am teaching my grade 5/6 class I endeavour to expose my students to current events that are going on around the world. I hope that this will put them on the path to becoming citizens who are globally minded, and help them to avoid the pitfalls of stereotyping other countries based on small grains of truth (or perhaps fabrication). At the elementary level the social studies curriculum provides my students with what I feel is a solid foundation in Canada`s history as well as the rights and freedoms Canadian citizens enjoy. I encourage my students to approach what I teach them in the classroom with a critical eye and as a class we think about the other side of the events that took place during our country`s history. For example while I am teaching my students about how and why the Canadian Pacific Railway was built, we also learn about the poor treatment of the Chinese workers who helped to build it. I also try to build a First Nations perspective into my lessons, something that is sorely lacking in many of Canada`s schools.
I also think that it is very important for my students to understand the enormous role that natural resources play in the lives of Canadians. Canada is a country rich in natural resources and much of our economy is based around water, forests, minerals and agriculture. My students will be pivotal in determining how well these resources will be managed in the future. I believe that students need something tangible to anchor their experiences. At my school we are lucky enough to have a school garden which I believe provides an excellent medium for my students to learn about many aspects of natural resource management. I also believe that these hands on experiences in the school garden help my students make more sound decisions about their health. A few months ago a student of mine discovered that candy corn is actually not corn at all while he was examining an ornamental corn cob grown in the garden.
I know that I have not exactly answered your question, but I believe that what I teach in my classroom are things every Canadian should know. I would teach any Canadian student in the same manner and hope that this is the kind of education my children will receive.
I look forward to discussing this with you in person. I am sure we will have many enriching discussions as you discover the Canadian education system.