Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange reluctantly made a partial descent of Alberta’s controversial K-6 curriculum yesterday, announcing the Kenney government would delay implementing the changes in the way four subjects are taught in elementary schools.
Educators for the most part cautiously hailed the announcement as a step in the right direction.
Or, as Jason Schilling, president of the Alberta Teachers Association said, “a step in the right direction towards repairing this disastrous program.(Emphasis added.)
Mr Schilling added: “There are still significant issues with the proposed content for Language Arts, Mathematics, Physical Education and Wellness programs,” all of which will be implemented next September in part of Ms. LaGrange’s plan.
The almost universally maligned rewrite of the K-6 social studies curriculum will be one of the subjects to put on the back burner for now, Ms. Lagrange said. The other three are science, fine arts and French immersion.
“We have listened to the valuable information provided by parents, education stakeholders, teachers and Albertans and are making significant changes to content and implementation to reflect this,” Ms. LaGrange said in the government press release and repeated at his press conference.
Not that she had a lot of choice. The social studies program in particular has become an international program cause famous among dismayed curriculum experts, almost universally seen as inappropriate for age, obsolete, Eurocentric, riddled with jargon, inaccurate and indifferent to the development of critical thinking skills.
That is, summarized University of Alberta social studies expert Carla Peck in the January / February 2022 edition of Alberta Views Magazine, driven by ideology and lacking even a basic understanding of how children learn.
The goal of the draft social studies curriculum seemed to be to bring the critical attitudes and skills of Alberta students back to the 1950s.
He appears to have been heavily influenced by Prime Minister Jason Kenney’s own cranky pedagogical notions – perhaps influenced by the ideas of his father, a private school teacher and principal – and those of his historian friend and former political staffer Christian. Champion.
Although not a curriculum expert, Dr. Champion was hired by the government to advise the Department of Education on the social studies curriculum.
Dr. Peck reminded her readers that Dr. Champion is “the editor-in-chief of a marginal Conservative history magazine” and posted a comment downplaying the death of Indigenous children in residential schools and calling the teaching perspective. native “fashion” and “acts -support.”
Of the 61 school boards in Alberta, 56 refused to pilot the provisional curriculum, four agreed to try only certain subjects, and one said teachers could pilot a subject if they wanted to. Dr. Peck reported. None of them would touch the social studies program with the proverbial bargepole!
No teachers and almost no curriculum experts were involved in rewriting the curriculum, she also noted. In contrast, eight task forces made up of more than 350 teachers and experts worked for several years on the larger Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum project started under the Progressive Conservatives and continued by the NDP. Mr. Kenney tore up that job after baselessly accusing the previous NDP government of infusing it with its ideology.
Faced with an avalanche of knowledgeable critics, the Kenney government obviously needed to limit the damage, at least for now.
It was not clear from Ms LaGrange’s comments at her press conference whether the delays announced yesterday constitute a genuine commitment to improving the program or simply a strategic retreat to pass the next election before returning to setting. work on what is clearly one of Mr. Kenney’s goals. personal workhorses, purging the educational system of “collectivist” notions taught by “liberal” teachers.
“Never forget that the reason the previous version was so bad is that this government has failed to properly and meaningfully involve teachers in its development,” Schilling said at his own press conference in line after Ms. LaGrange’s announcement.
“Despite today’s positive developments, all indicators suggest that the government will continue to repeat this fundamental mistake,” he continued. “We released our full report on teacher feedback on the program in September, but we still have not been invited to meet with ministry officials to discuss its content. “
“The Minister is now announcing an Implementation Steering Committee without a clear indication of how teachers will be represented,” added Mr. Schilling. “How can you realistically discuss implementation when the exact implementers are left out of the room?” “
Readers should not imagine that this development marks the beginning of a rapprochement between the Kenney government and the Alberta Teachers Association, or even a successful lobbying of the ATA, as some of the Prime Minister’s political allies claim.
On the contrary! This will prompt the Kenney government to redouble its efforts in its attacks on the ATA, especially the government’s plan to introduce a law to split the ATA into two bodies by removing the regulation of the teaching profession from its role as a trade union.
Mr. Schilling acknowledged this reality in his remarks. “The only reason changes are being announced today is because we have stood up,” he said.
“Because we dared to stand up to them, the government is now attacking us on the professional side. But sharing our concerns about this flawed program was motivated by that professional side. This is exactly why they want to deprofessionalize the association and exactly why we cannot let them do it.