On Friday October 20th, MSSTA held our annual MTS PD event at Valley Gardens Middle School. Over 300 educators from across the province took part in over 40 concurrent sessions on a variety of topics related to teaching all levels of Social Sciences courses. There were a variety of teachers, non-profit organizations and experts that facilitated sessions including SSENC executive members Kevin Lopuck and Rob Jardine.
This year’s MSSTA MTS PD Day was delivered in partnership with ERiM (Extremism and Radicalization to Violence Prevention in Manitoba). ERiM is an organization of Manitoba educators and education stakeholders funded by Public Safety Canada to develop a resource for teachers to recognize and counter radicalization within their schools before it occurs. We were pleased to have had the opportunity to launch this new resource at our October PD Day and to welcome our keynote speaker Dr. Barbara Perry, one of the foremost Canadian experts in the areas of radicalization, right-wing extremism, and hate crime along with our plenary panelists, Brad Galloway and Mubin Shaikh. Canada and other countries across the globe are currently facing challenges related to growing polarization in their communities. Political, socio-economic, environmental, and other issues incite strong and opposing views, further entrenched by manipulative algorithms and the echo chambers created by social media. Recently–and particularly during the pandemic–this polarization has led to an increase in extremism and radicalism. Research suggests radicalization can take place as early as adolescence, particularly in marginalized youth. However, the roots of extreme behaviour can be established in the Early Years making this issue important to all educators from Kindergarten to Grade 12. As social science teachers, we have a professional duty to help our students understand and develop the skills needed to resist this growing phenomenon.