It’s probably a safe assumption that most youngsters would rather play video games than do school work, but Karl Hanson (BEd ’22), teaching Grade 7 at St. Joseph’s School in Coaldale during his professional semester III practicum, devised a way for his students to do both. As a result, Hanson is one of this year’s recipients of the Wigham Family Professional Inquiry Project Award.

Hanson, a University of Lethbridge Faculty of Education student, used a role-playing game (RPG) creation program to help make the class’s study of early Canadian history come alive in a fun and interactive way.

I made an RPG based on the French coming to Canada,” he says, adding the game included a segment on the fur trade.

The game puts students in the role of a character who is banished from French explorer Jacques Cartier’s ship and must then forge allegiances with Indigenous people in order to survive and build a life in the new land. Hanson used information right from the class’s textbook in crafting the game scenario.

“It turned out pretty well,” Hanson says of the game. “The kids enjoyed it. They even kept playing it after the unit was over.”

Hanson came up with the idea after noticing that many of the boys in the class were quick to grab any opportunity to play video games between class time. Consequently, his expectation was that the boys would be the most drawn to the history-based RPG, “but surprisingly, it was the girls who really got into it.”

He notes that he built a bit of a love story into the game. “Maybe that’s why they liked it.”

While the RPG was created for his Professional Inquiry Project, Hanson believes it could be useful once he has embarked on his teaching career as long as the information on which it is based remains part of the education curriculum. “I can’t see us not teaching Canadian history.”

Unlike many of his Faculty of Education colleagues who had family members who were teachers, Hanson's inspiration for a teaching career came from teachers he had during his school days.

I had a couple of awesome teachers in junior high and high school,” he says, adding he was inspired by “seeing how it really changed the class when the teachers loved what they were doing. It’s a good way to impact people in a positive way.”

Hanson hails from Calgary and has been seeking teaching options in that area, but he is also eyeing the possibility of going to Japan to teach English. Wherever he ends up teaching, one of his personal aims is to improve his skills in classroom management. He says his university consultant helped him in that area, but he wants to grow that ability further. “I just want the kids to get the best out of me, which is why I want to work on myself.”

Hanson presented his project at the U of L's December Professional Inquiry Project Symposium.

Why did you choose to become a teacher?

I wanted to become a teacher because I had a couple of amazing teachers in grade school that really seemed to love their job and consequently made me start to enjoy school. I wanted to be that happy and make a difference in others’ lives as well, so I pursued the occupation.

What were some of your most memorable experiences while at the University of Lethbridge?

I can’t decide between two, so I’ll just give two. First of all, is my Japanese studies. Professor McMeekin became my “school mom” and my favourite professor of all time, and I learned an incredible amount from her. I’ve missed those classes every day since. Second, my morning and afternoon drives with my PSI buddies. We had a blast doing car-aoke and talking about our days, it really made the experience much more fun and helped a ton to bounce ideas around as a beginning teacher. We also tried driving through a snowstorm one day, definitely the scariest moment of my U of L experience.

What are some of the most important lessons you learned during your time in the Faculty of Education?

Being yourself through your teaching and instruction is incredibly important to how well your students receive your lessons. If you try not teaching in a way that excites you or act in a way that isn’t natural to you, your students will get very little from your lessons and you could be damaging their trust in you. Just be yourself and try to have fun with it!

Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your education experience?

I believe I have already discussed my “school mom” Professor McMeekin, without whom I may not have been able to raise my GPA enough to even get into the Ed faculty’s Social Studies stream. Definitely the most impactful person on my post-secondary experience.

What advice would you give to those who are about to begin their journey in the Faculty of Education?

Full commitment goes a long way. When you finish the program in PSIII, you will be living the daily life of an everyday teacher (probably more so due to extra-curriculars you should be involved in), so keeping up work commitments and extensive social lives outside of the program will 100% strain you. I would highly recommend focusing as much as you can on finishing the program while the semester is in progress as that extra effort will let your mind relax when it needs to and won’t have you wondering if you did the absolute best you could.

Writer: Dave Sulz and Karl Hanson | Photo courtesy of Karl Hanson

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Becoming a Teacher series:
Taylor Burke (BEd '14, MA '22)
Naoko Masuda (MEd '22)
Kennedy Dery (BEd, BSc '22)
Karl Hanson (BEd '22)
Vivianna Lee (BSc/BEd '22)
Jenn Biglin (BEd '22)
Eve Buk (Class of '22, BEd)
Brad Aldridge (BSc '18, BEd '21)
Sara Bieniada (BMgt/BEd ‘21)
Ashley Hoisington (BA/BEd ‘21)
Dominique Point du Jour (BEd '21)

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Darcy Tamayose
Communications Officer
Dean's Office • Faculty of Education
University of Lethbridge
Learn more about the Faculty of Education: Legacy Magazine (2008-2019)
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