Two new books tailor made for the classroom are the book by Susan Aihoshi and a book co-authored by long-time educator, Masako Fukawa. The April Bulletin featured Susan’s book, Torn Apart: The Internment Diary of Mary Kobayashi, published by Scholastic Company’s Dear Canada series of publications. Masako and Pamela Hickman’s book, Japanese Canadian Internment in the Second World War, is part of the “Righting Canada’s Wrong“ series of books published by James Lorimer and Company. Both companies are to be commended for releasing new titles in a highly competitive educational textbook market in an uncertain economic climate.
Publishers must be control costs in order to secure orders from schools that are faced with annual cutbacks in spending. The price of a hardcover book increases annually and school departments make do by using outdated textbooks. One method of controlling publication cost is to reduce the number of pages and to pare down historical content – in many cases it is the history of minority groups in Canada that is affected. I believe that more space must be given to the history and the contributions of ethnic minorities in the development of Canada in order to offset the Eurocentric bias in most history books. The marginalization of Canada’s minorities feeds the myth of ‘recent immigrants.’
In addition to issues surrounding textbook content, the major challenge for a classroom teacher is the persistent lack of class time to complete the prescribed units of study in a course. Traditionally, the Japanese Canadian internment is dealt with in the World War II unit of study which is about two weeks in duration. Given the time restriction, the Internment is given about one class period – two at the most. If a thematic approach is taken, then the history of Japanese Canadians can be infused in other units such as the Canadian Government and Law. Increasing homework and self-directed learning are two ways in which teachers try to complete units of study. In the thirty years that I was in the classroom, I was unable to complete all units in a course. For most Canadian history teachers, it is a struggle to reach the Trudeau era of the 1970s.
The two books by Susan and Masako will be an invaluable resource in Canadian classrooms and will help keep alive the important lessons of the internment and the Redress settlement.
As was reported in the April issue of Nikkei Voice, Nikkei Kanadajin no Tsuihou (Uprooted Again) dealing with the expulsion of Japanese Canadians to Japan written by the long time human rights activist, Tatsuo Kage, and translated by Kathleen Merken is now being distributed. I eagerly await my copy of this invaluable resource.
Lastly, Grace Thomson, NAJC Past President, has informed us that the Asian Canadian Studies Society is raising funds for the translation of the Norio Goto’s excellent book, Story of Vancouver’s Asahi. Donors will receive a tax receipt. Please mail your contributions to: Asian Canadian Studies Society, 2352 Brock Street, Vancouver, BC. V5N 2Z8.