I was visiting a grade five and six class as part of my job as a supervisor and mentor for university education students doing their practicum placements in inner-city Winnipeg schools. I watched in fascination as over the course of my weekly visits the young students learned the names of every Canadian prime minister and something important they had done. The teacher facilitated this by presenting information about each prime minister and then working together with the kids to create actions for a kind of rap where they chanted the names of the prime ministers to a beat. In a couple of weeks the students had mastered the names of all twenty- eight prime ministers in correct chronological order and knew something about each one.
As they chanted they would hold their arms up over their heads to indicate a sun for Wilfred Laurier because his catch phrase was ‘sunny ways’. They made the peace sign for Lester Pearson because he won the Nobel Peace Prize. They pantomimed twisting a curly French moustache for Pierre Trudeau because he was responsible for making French the official second language of Canada. They held up two fingers for Mackenzie King because he led Canada through World War II.
While they said the names of the prime ministers and did the actions the kids looked at a poster that pictured all the prime ministers. One day the student teacher I was supervising asked the students what questions they had about the prime ministers of our country. Here are some of the things they wanted to know.
- What makes a good prime minister?
- What makes a bad prime minister?
- Why are most of Canada’s prime minister’s old white men?
- Why are some people the prime minister for a long time and others just for a short time?
- What makes a prime minister popular?
- How old do you have to be to be a prime minister?
- What does a prime minister do anyway?
- How does a prime minister make new laws for Canada?
- Do you have to be rich to be the prime minister?
- What does a prime minister do when they aren’t the prime minister anymore?
I thought these were great questions! I’d like some of them answered myself!
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