A Methodology for Teaching Information Processing
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Scottish Diaspora Tapestry


Using Local History as a Catalyst

This page is from the Introduction to Neigh The Front- Exploring Scarboro Heights.

Message to the Students -- Risk and Reward

Your Principal, Mrs. Moras, has kindly arranged for H.A. Halbert to take a very helpful interest in the production of this book by purchasing a quantity of copies at a wholesale price for school fundraising purposes. We are convinced that this reasonable risk will result in significant reward for Halbert students -- perhaps some new equipment or awards. To a large extent, life is all about taking risks -- some big, some small. Every risk that you take, every decision that you make, should be "informed" -- not necessarily "calculated", just informed.

How do you make informed decisions? You must gather and organize the relevant information, analyze and interpret the information and then output the results as an informed decision -- for example, "yes, I’ll do it and here’s how" or "no I won’t and here’s why". We hope that, by engaging in the information processing and writing exercises in this book and on the associated web site, you will learn a little about how to make informed decisions. Is there a risk in reading a book or in going to school? Sure -- time, effort and money. But if you don’t take that risk and sincerely commit yourself to the learning process, you are less likely to realize the reward of a satisfying and prosperous career. Skilled decision-making is of profound importance in life.

You are the decision-makers and risk-takers of the future. In essence, this book was largely written by risk-takers of the past. "Should I leave my native Scotland for the forest in Canada?" "Should I buy a farm now or wait a year or two?" "Should I volunteer to defend my country?" "Should I spend my spare time doing community work?" "Should I sell my farm or develop it myself?"

The decisions that were made by these hardy folk of ages past were no less wrenching than the toughest decisions that you’ll be making. You can learn a great deal from their successes and their mistakes. As you’re Exploring Scarboro Heights, imagine that you are the decision-maker of 1842 or 1866. Would you have made the same decision as Andrew Young or James A. McCowan? What input information did they have to consider? How did they arrive at their decision? How did they plan the next few steps in their task?

Best of luck with your own decision-making.

D. Bruce McCowan, Halbert Graduate, 1968 and Bea McCowan, Associate Broker, HomeLife  Realty


Overview and Methodology

We have all done science experiments in school. Remember how you always lost a mark if you forgot to record one of the key elements of the experiment? You know what I mean...

  • Purpose (Why you are doing it)
  • Apparatus (What you need to do it)
  • Method (How you are doing it)
  • Observations (Everything significant that you witnessed)
  • Conclusions (Your brief summary -- ultimately intended to provide something of value to society, even if your local society was the 30 other kids in your class.)

These five points form a very important "framework" for doing your experiment properly, for recording valid results and for giving something useful to society. Following this framework for your everyday activities in life is also a pretty good idea -- try it out in connection with one of your tasks.

We are taking this same approach in Neigh the Front and the companion web site www.scarboroughrecord.com, the web site of The Scarboro Heights Record. From now on, when we talk about "this book", we also mean this web site. Additional help in understanding "information processing" as well as other interesting data for you to analyze is on the web site.

First, let’s define your task in connection with this book. In this book your "experiment" or "task" is to look at and absorb or "take in" information, analyze the information and then output new, more meaningful, information.

In the following sections of this Introduction, we give you:

After you’ve read the Introduction and the related sections at www.scarboroughrecord.com, you’ll understand how you can best complete your task -- to receive disorganized input information, analyze the information and then output better information.


The purpose of this book (together with the associated web site, www.scarboroughrecord.com) is to provide students, ages 10-18, with a framework for:

  • Selectively receiving input information by reading various sources and by interviewing people
  • Processing (or analyzing or interpreting) that input information
  • Outputting observations, conclusions and other information in writing, reorganized in their own words

This book will assist students in developing:

  • Investigative, reading, comprehension, interactive and research skills (receiving input information) and
  • Analysis and interpretation skills (processing information) and
  • Organizational, presentation and writing skills (outputting information in a more useful form).

This book and web site comprise our foundation for establishing the Janet McCowan Fincham Memorial Scarborough Community Studies Scholarship for local schools.

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