While many students at Marc Garneau take electives like Accounting or Finance, some choose to take Family Studies. At Marc Garneau, Family Studies is offered to all grades, but each course is unique.

The Grade 9 Food and Nutrition course has both hands-on components and classroom-style learning. According to the teacher, Ms. Brand, this method allows for “students [to] have more opportunities to apply their learning from class into the kitchen.” Food and Nutrition students explore a variety of topics having to do with Canada’s Food Guide and overall nutrition for people in the various stages of life.

Grade 9 Food and Nutrition students participate in hands-on activities. Photo: Justin Ye

While the course offers a lot of classroom-style learning, students also get to bake treats in the kitchen. This allows for a simple way to teach the manipulation of measurements, such as altering recipes on the go. Another key concept Ms. Brand hopes to teach students through a hands-on approach is the difference between store-bought and homemade items. Food and Nutrition students learn about food allergies, and possible alternatives that provide the most vitamins and minerals. The course also touches upon the diversity of food around the world!

In Grade 10, Family Studies explores the context of what is a family, how to relate to others, how to manage resources, and how to be responsible members of society. Students get the opportunity to explore interpersonal and intrapersonal skills and learn about the diverse ways in which families function in Canada. The course is significantly more classroom-based and less hands-on than its Grade 9 counterpart.

There are five distinct family studies courses available for Grade 11 students: Introduction to Anthropology, Psychology and Sociology; Fashion; World Religion; Working with Infants and Young Children; and Philosophy. Each expose students to a different stream of thinking; for example, students in the philosophy course explore big questions such as: “What is the meaning of life?, What separates right from wrong?, and What is beautiful?” In other courses, students are exposed to fields that are obscure. The Working with Infants and Young Children course prepares students for occupations with young children from birth to six years old, and the Fashion course teaches students about various materials, textures, and colours.

A well-known project that could be described as a staple of family studies in Grade 11 is the “baby doll” project. In Working with Infants and Young Children, students are required to take care of a baby doll for forty-eight hours to the best of their abilities. They receive a mark for this project based on how little the baby cries over the course of the two days.

Finally, for Grade 12 students, there are three courses available: Human Growth and Development , Families in Canada, and Personal Life Management. In Human Growth and Development, students look at human development from preconception to senior age, and learn theoretical perspectives on human development and brain development. The course, Families in Canada, enables students to learn about sociological, psychological and anthropological theories. Lastly, Personal Life Management prepares students to live independently.

Those who take any of these Grade 12 courses complete an independent study unit, which allows students to build on their independence and learn how to use resources available to them. This independent study unit links back to the overarching theme for family studies, which, according to Ms. Brand, is to help students “think critically about their future.”

Overall, Family Studies is popular amongst students that take the courses. One student, Sara Ahmed, says that she took the Fashion course because the course offers concepts “you can apply to your daily life and future.” She also said that she learned something new every day. Sara enjoys Ms. Brand’s class because “she shares stories from her personal life, and it helps with our understanding of the things we learn.”