January Issue of Faculty Newsletter Published

The January issue of our Education Exchange newsletter has been published. This newsletter brings our current and former students, as well as our educational partners, together to share news, successes, and innovations. In this issue, you'll find discussion of the move to online teaching, alumni profiles, faculty news, and more.

To access our Education Exchange newsletter, click the following link:

Education Exchange Newsletter (January 2021)

To see previous issues of the newsletter, visit the newsletter archives.

Dr. Gerald Walton Discusses Rape Culture, Politics, and Bullying in Online Interview

In an interview with the Centre for Education, Law and Society at Simon Fraser University, Dr. Gerald Walton (Professor, Faculty of Education), discusses culture, and rape culture in particular, and the impact it has on law and policies affecting schools.

He addresses the importance of teaching about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in schools. He also discusses the relationship between bullying, culture, and social politics.

BEd Student Melena Hope Awarded Ontario College of Teachers Primary/Junior Scholarship

Congratulations to Melena Hope (PhD, BEd Primary/Junior teacher candidate, Orillia), who has been awarded the Ontario College of Teacher's Scholarship award for the Primary/Junior division! 

This OCT award is granted to individuals who “demonstrate a high level of preparedness for teacher education through examples of community involvement, background and life experiences.”

Melena, who has spent her whole life in education, received a BFA Honours degree at York University and then travelled abroad to obtain a MA and PhD in art history at the University of London, at the Courtauld Institute of Art in England. This was followed by a two-year post-doctoral fellowship.

As a mature student, Melena’s first career was teaching as a sessional and visiting lecturer at colleges within the University of London, and then as head of art history at Morley College in London, England. Her decision to embark on a new career came after she took time off to raise her children and was encouraged to work as an unqualified supply teacher within a local elementary school board. It was during this time that she realized her calling in life. She feels that teaching the youngest of students and fostering a love for knowledge at an early age is a profound responsibility that she finds greatly rewarding. For this reason, she decided to return to school as a mature student and pursue her vocation as an elementary school teacher within the Primary/Junior division in the Faculty of Education, maintaining Dean’s List status throughout her studies.  

In addition to her strong background in education, Melena has also volunteered and worked with children in various capacities, including teaching art lessons and contributing her time to her local parent council by painting a mural at a local school and co-ordinating fundraising initiatives, among other activities.

“I am humbled and honoured to have received this award from the Ontario College of Teachers. To be acknowledged by the professional body in my field has inspired me even more,” she says.

PhD Candidate Keri-Lyn Durant Interviewed on CBC Radio

PhD candidate, teacher, and death educator Keri-Lyn Durant was interviewed by CBC Radio on a segment entitled “Helping Children Walk with their Grief.”

The segment description notes that “whether we're grieving a loved one or grieving the lives we had before the pandemic, chances are we've all experienced grief in one way or another this year. And children are no exception. Keri-Lyn Durant tells us how we can help children walk with their grief.”

To listen to the six-minute interview, click here.

Students Create Unique Ecological Art Exhibit to Inspire Past, Present and Future Students

Students from the MEd Ecological Consciousness through Embodied Transformation class have created an interesting ecological art exhibit that they hope will spread positivity to current and future Lakehead students as well as alumni.

The project aimed to advocate ecological consciousness and demonstrate the relationship between humans and the natural world. Under the guidance of course instructor Dr. Thomas Puk, 17 students from diverse backgrounds created the exhibit to illustrate their insightful perspectives.

The project primarily involved creating an interactive exhibit composed of individual "petals" and the word “happiness” in six different languages (English, Mandarin, Korean, Hindi, Bangla, and Cornish). The exhibit parts are painted on high-density fibreboard, basically sawdust and glue – a good use of used material.

The stand is made from local cedar, lilac and honeysuckle, all of which were destined to be disposed. The frame edges are from a countertop made from local birch. The maps are out of date maps of the local area from the Geography department’s map library. The frame holding the fibreboard is leftover scraps of spruce. The students also used flyers, cardboard, leave pressings, leaves, and bark.

The exhibit includes sub-themes of ecological literacy and reciprocal relationships with natural processes. Through this project, students developed an emotional connection with nature, which they learned in their Master of Education course.

They did the project face to face on the Thunder Bay campus this fall, 100% of the time outside, or as they refer to it, Intree, a term that means outdoors.

Aparna Roy, one of the students from the class, said she learned a lot from the project.

“Essentially, the ecological sculpture project will be a bridge for alumni, current students, and future students at Lakehead University by showing them the equality and unity that we as humans have developed with nature.”

National Virtual Exhibition Showcases Artwork by Lakehead Students, Alumni, and Faculty Member Dr. Pauline Sameshima

Six Lakehead students and alumni who have worked with Dr. Pauline Sameshima (Professor and Canada Research Chair in Arts Integrated Studies)—and Dr. Sameshima herself—have had their research artwork accepted by the Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education for a juried national virtual exhibition, as part of a special issue on Learning and Teaching: Artful Narratives of Transformation.

This vibrant collection of 22 original works—with seven pieces coming from Lakehead University—offers a diversity of glimpses into the topic of teaching, learning, and transformation. Taken together, the works create a multi-textured, integrated depth of possibilities for considering our roles as teachers and learners in this time that cries out for large-scale transformations.

The six students/alum from Lakehead whose work is featured in the exhibit are: Robin Faye (MEd student), Emilee De Sommer-Dennis (MEd alumna), Holly Tsun Haggarty (PhD student), Tashya Orasi (PhD student). Barbara Benwell (Social Justice Studies student), and Mehdia Hassan (Social Justice Studies alumna).

A PDF of the exhibition can be viewed here.

Robin Faye, artist-researcher and MEd student, notes that “contemplating these compelling ideas may indeed inspire the sparks of hope and creativity we need right now.” 

Tashya Orasi, a student in Joint PhD in Educational Studies program, agrees. “I am excited that important discussions are happening about the potential for creativity to be a transformative force in the lives of teachers and students."

Below: an exhibition piece created by PhD student Holly Tsun Haggarty, called Complications.

Dr. Gary Pluim Wins Research Award from the Commonwealth of Learning

Dr. Gary Pluim (Assistant Professor, Orillia) has received an award from the Commonwealth of Learning for educational programming targeted toward global issues relating to youth. His work involves pedagogies that promote youth’s rights, political engagement, mental health, and action toward the climate crisis. This project builds on a SSHRC-funded research initiative titled “Educational Transfer Between Small States of the Commonwealth: A Vertical Case Study Analysis of the Professionalization of the field of Youth Work.” The study won a Partnership Engagement Grant in November 2019 and is scheduled to continue through 2021.

Gary describes the research as “a case study designed to capture the conditions that both permit and prevent educational transfer between small states”—countries with a population of approximately 1.5 million or less. The study follows the transfer of youth work curriculum between Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean and the South Pacific. He explains that youth work has emerged as a national priority in many countries, particularly in small states, many of which are located in regions where youth populations are proportionately higher than in those with larger populations.

Transferring promising educational practices between countries has been shown to be an effective means to address societal issues, as well as a way to attain educational goals and amass new knowledge about curriculum and pedagogy. Gary notes that recent advancements in online and distance learning during the pandemic have enabled increased access and accelerated opportunities for educational transfer.

However, the idea that curriculum can simply be transferred from one global context to another is also fraught with difficulties. As Gary describes, “cultural aspects such as history, language, political-economies, geographies and environments shape conditions for learning. The importance of place as a starting point in learning is well documented and entrenched in many educational traditions. Education transfer is also seen as a form of neo-colonization—post-colonial scholars point out the direct link between the imperial rule of the British and the ways that colonial relationships have endured through education transfer.” These issues are among the complexities that form the backdrop of this study and the context of this award.

This award was granted by the Commonwealth of Learning, an intergovernmental organization that promotes the development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources, and technologies.

Drs. Wayne Melville and Don Kerr Co-Editors of New Book: Virtues as Integral to Science Education

Dr. Wayne Melville (Dean of Education) and Dr. Don Kerr (Chair, Undergraduate Studies in Education) have a new co-edited book out: Virtues as Integral to Science Education: Understanding the Intellectual, Moral and Civic Value of Science and Scientific Inquiry.

The publisher, Routledge (International Studies in the Philosophy of Education Series), notes that the book “challenges the increasing professionalization of science; questions the view of scientific knowledge as objective; and highlights the relationship between democracy and science. Exploring how virtues relate to citizenship, technology, and politics, the chapters in this work illustrate the ways in which virtues are integral to understanding the values and limitations of science, and its role in informing democratic engagement. The text also demonstrates how the guiding virtues of scientific inquiry can be communicated in the classroom to the benefit of both individuals and wider societies.”

Written by a range of international experts in science, the history of science, education and philosophy—including a chapter by Dr. Melville and Dr. Kerr—the newly published book will be of particular interest to scholars broadly interested in the terrain of ethics in science and teaching science, and in Philosophy of Education.

Dr. Tanya Kaefer and Co-Investigators Receive Grant for Research Addressing Achievement Gap in Reading Comprehension

Dr. Tanya Kaefer (Associate Professor, Thunder Bay) is a co-investigator on a research project that has been awarded a grant by the Inter-University Research Network.

The research project—entitled Vocabulary and Knowledge: Powerful Allies in Redressing the Achievement Gap in Reading Comprehension—focuses on increasing intentional vocabulary instruction as a means of closing academic achievement gaps for children in Nova Scotia who are from lower socio-economic status and/or minority linguistic backgrounds.

“Vocabulary knowledge predicts reading comprehension skills throughout schooling, as well as broader critical thinking skills, and high-school achievement. Unfortunately, these are also areas in which there are striking differences between children from impoverished backgrounds and those from more economically advantaged homes. Because knowledge is exponential, early development of knowledge is key to ensuring academic success for all children. These factors have made developing children’s vocabulary a crucial issue in education research,” Tanya explains.

In the study, Tanya and her co-investigators will examine the effectiveness of intentionally targeting students’ vocabulary learning in schools identified as serving a higher proportion of students from lower socio-economic status backgrounds. Grades 1 and 2 teachers and students from Nova Scotia classrooms will participate, with some classrooms employing targeted, intentional vocabulary-building approaches. Post-test learning, as it relates to students’ initial oral language and comprehension skills, will be used to determine the effectiveness in the targeted instructional strategies in addressing vocabulary underachievement.

The outcomes of this study are expected to contribute to our knowledge of teacher-friendly approaches to vocabulary instruction, to help close the achievement gap in reading comprehension.

Dr. Tanya Kaefer

Dr. Pauline Sameshima Elected to College of Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada

Congratulations to Dr. Pauline Sameshima (Professor and Canada Research Chair in Arts Integrated Studies) for being elected to the College of Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada. This is a tremendous achievement—recognition by the Royal Society of Canada is the highest honour an individual can achieve in the Arts, Social Sciences and Sciences. Pauline was recognized on the basis of her innovative work in curriculum theory, poetic inquiry, teaching, research dissemination, and civic engagement development.

Founded in 1882, the Royal Society of Canada advises the government and the larger society, recognizes excellence, and promotes a culture of knowledge and innovation in Canada and with other national academies around the world.