Alberta’s education minister hopes elementary school teachers will volunteer to pilot draft curriculum in three new subjects next year – French Immersion and Francophone Language Arts and Sciences .
But the Official Opposition says it could be a big challenge for early primary teachers, who will also have to teach a new curriculum in English, maths and physical education and wellbeing from September .
On Tuesday, Alberta Education released new draft curriculum documents for K-6 science, as well as K-6 language arts programs for students in French immersion schools. and French speakers.
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said she and the department have listened to and incorporated feedback from educators and the public.
“From day one, my goal as Minister of Education has been to provide the best possible curriculum for our students,” LaGrange said.
The new school curriculum met with a chilling reception from many teachers, academics, school trustees, parents and the public.
Across all subjects, critics said the knowledge-based government curriculum released so far contains age-inappropriate content, promotes a Eurocentric worldview, emphasizes memorization over comprehension and is not based on the best research on how children learn.
The government has dropped plans to impose the new curriculum across all subjects and all primary grades next fall, and will instead require teachers to embrace the new K-3 math, English language arts K-3 and K-6 Physical Education and Wellness.
Last year, 56 of the 61 school boards in Alberta using the Alberta curriculum voluntarily refused to pilot any of the curriculum projects, including the four francophone school boards in Province.
Tanya Saumure, president of the Federation of Francophone School Boards of Alberta, says the new K-6 French language arts project is a substantial improvement.
Saumure says Alberta Education has worked with teachers and experts from francophone school boards over the past year to better include francophone perspectives and culture.
“French as a first language should be developed by us, Francophone Albertans,” she said in an interview.
A backgrounder provided to reporters indicates that the draft Francophone Language Arts, French Immersion Language Arts, and Science curriculum have all been updated to shift expectations to more appropriate grade levels, clarify wording and improve and expand First Nations, Inuit and Métis content.
Science has been updated to include dinosaurs, encourage more hands-on activities, and introduce the scientific method. Teachers will also need to teach digital literacy and science ethics.
Although education experts have criticized the government’s previous approach to piloting the program this school year, LaGrange said next year’s approach would be the same. It did not set any targets for participation, sample size or demographic representation.
School divisions, schools and teachers can choose to participate in part or all of a pilot subject. Department officials said divisions, private and charter schools want as much flexibility as possible. They must notify by June 6 if they intend to participate.
NDP Education Critic Sarah Hoffman says few elementary school teachers likely have the leeway to voluntarily test the arts or sciences of French when they’re already scrambling to teach French. new subjects in mathematics, English and physical education next year.
Hoffman said teachers already felt overwhelmed.
“We still don’t see the kind of enthusiasm and buy-in that we want to see when we see such a big change,” she said.
Hoffman said if elected, a New Democrat government would take the new curriculum back to teachers, scholars and cultural groups until they get it right.
Alberta Teachers’ Association Jason Schilling said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that the government is rushing the implementation of the new curriculum.
“Schools are being inundated with extra expectations next year, and students will suffer, which is something teachers, headteachers and parents don’t want to see.”