Published on October 18, 2022
By Jessica Fast
It is with great sadness that the historical teaching community reflects on the loss of Dr. Peter C Seixas. He was a leader in historical education and his impact on the historical community has been immense. This week, the Teaching and Learning Committee would like to dedicate a short blog post to his work and to highlight his lengthy contributions to the historical community.
Dr. Seixas shaped both fields of teaching – in his extensive work on pedagogical implications of historical education in B.C.—and learning – in his efforts to explore questions surrounding historiography and how people interact with public historical education sources. His extensive contributions raise questions about both teaching and learning, while also calling us to critically examine the importance of ethics within historical inquiry. His most notable questions around ethical engagement with history ask readers: How do we most ethically engage with these historically significant questions whilst honouring their gravity and impact on current society. Most notably, he asked his readers, “what responsibilities do historical crimes and sacrifices impose upon us today?” (Centre for the Study of Historical Consciousness, 2022). Seixas’ work reminds the historical community of the importance to balance a sense of common humanity and upholding the historian’s duty to accurately represent the past and conveying its importance. His fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada as well as his award in 2015 from Jean Dresden Grambs Distinguished Career Research Award from the National Council for Social Studies highlight his continued commitment to excellence. Seixas reminds us that effective historical inquiry is a lifelong effort that must be both embodied and taught.
Seixas has contributed greatly to the historical field; his work informed many areas of historical education and has been widely recognized. However, his research contributed most notably to exploring questions around educational pedagogy and examines the ways in which history is taught in B.C.’s school curriculum as well as the ways in which people – at both micro and macro levels – contribute to informing, understanding, and commemorating important historical events. Informed by his own extensive tenure as a secondary Social Studies educator, Seixas’s career included many diverse experiences. One of his most recent contributions included efforts to understand and reframe the ways in which historical curricula is understood and taught. These efforts are characterized by a unique approach integrating educational pedagogy with historiography to understand the nuanced experiences of learning and engagement with public education efforts across the life course. Seixas’ impact was significant for his students, colleagues, and community members alike and presents a model of engagement – both professionally and personally – that our community can continuously strive to emulate.
Below are links to his biography page and a link to two of his projects that he had been deeply involved with. We hope that his work and his projects continue to impact and inspire educators and historians alike.
Dr. Seixas’ biography page: https://edcp.educ.ubc.ca/faculty-staff/peter-seixas/
The Historical Thinking Project: https://historicalthinking.ca/about-historical-thinking-project
The History Education Network: http://thenhier.ca/en.1.html