Spotlight on Wendy Driscoll

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The Advisory Circle of Educators (ACOE) advises Elections Canada on best practices in the development of educational resources, future directions for its civic education program, and ways to ensure uptake by educators. In this series, we interview ACOE members to showcase their experience and expertise in civic education. Meet Wendy Driscoll.

Wendy has been a teacher and educational leader in Nova Scotia for over 30 years with a focus on Social Studies, Citizenship Education and Literacy. She is currently a coach with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education. With a passion for professional learning, Wendy has used her mentoring and facilitating skills through her work with the Social Studies Teachers Association of Nova Scotia, the Library of Parliament and Elections Canada’s Advisory Circle of Educators. She is also a founding member of the Social Studies Educators Network of Canada. Wendy was the project lead for the grade 9 Citizenship Education curriculum of Nova Scotia’s Department of Education: one of her proudest professional accomplishments. Wendy lives in Dartmouth, NS, where she can enjoy the many sites and sounds that make her Maritime-proud.

Elections Canada: How do you see your role in civic education?

Wendy: I see myself as a “champion” of civic education because I believe in its value. I love UNESCO’s definition from their “Citizenship education for the 21st century”: Citizenship education can be defined as educating children, from early childhood, to become clear-thinking and enlightened citizens who participate in decisions concerning society.

Elections Canada: Tell us about a memorable moment in civic education.

Wendy: Recently, our provincial government adopted a fixed provincial election date (the last province to do so). While in favour of a fixed date, many Nova Scotians were concerned about the chosen summertime date, especially teachers who saw it as a missed learning opportunity. My grade 9 Citizenship class and I crafted a testimonial about how much real-life learning can be done when elections take place during the school year, and the lost learning opportunity when an election is held in the summertime.

I delivered this testimonial in person in a speech to the Law Amendments Committee of the Nova Scotia Legislature. In the end, the majority government chose the election date they wanted, but not before my students stayed up late watching legislative TV! This is memorable because it inspired 14-year-olds to have conversations about power and empowerment, voting accessibility and being disappointed and engaged in democracy at the same time.

Elections Canada: Why did you choose to join ACOE?

Wendy: I joined the ACOE because Elections Canada values the voices of educators, and because the voices in the room are amazing. As a direct result of listening to those perspectives, EC’s educational resources were created by teachers, for teachers. I have tremendous trust in what we are doing and its value for inspiring democracy with Canadian students.

Elections Canada: What have you enjoyed most about ACOE meetings?

Wendy: I have loved hearing about how things are both different and the same across Canada in civic education. The collegial atmosphere which extends around the circle is genuine and valuable. I am so grateful that I can remain part of the conversation!

Elections Canada: What recommendations do you have for educators who would like to improve their practice in civic education?

Wendy: Start with one of the resources from Elections Canada and see where the conversation goes with your students. Even young students have a sense of what they see as fair, important, just, democratic, etc. even before they speak that civic language. They may surprise you!