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Curriculum redesign exciting

I have been to many curriculum redesign talks, symposiums and discussions, and I have never been more excited in my life around educating children in Alberta. I am truly inspired!

Why should everyone be? Well, this new curriculum will be drastically different than any other type of education before, and the education your child is going to receive will look different than the one you received.

This makes me happy. I am not claiming I received a bad education, but I do feel that I want something better for my daughter. Currently, we have a model where tests, which are focused on the low-level thinking, are being used rampant throughout our culture. If you think this should be the norm, I bring you a quote from Seth Godin: “As soon as we associate reading a book with taking a test, we’ve missed the point of literacy.”

If you are still not convinced that our curriculum needs a change, here is what Jeff Johnson, Alberta’s Education minister, says: “Our (current) packed curriculum stifles creativity in the classroom. It’s too packed. There’s too much stuff to try to get through and it doesn’t allow enough flexibility to individualize learning, which is going to be really key in the future.”

Classrooms are going to look a lot different. You will see less direct instruction, which will allow students to increase their knowledge base. Also, students will focus on more group and project work, and learn how to be collaborate learners.

Finally, the goal of education will be creativity and innovation, and to truly inspire students to learn more.

I think back to my math classes, which I usually finished with 95 to 100 per cent. Was I inspired to become a mathematician, an engineer, a scientist or even to attend the next level of math? From some classes yes, but this was due to the excellent teacher I had in front of me, not because of the excellent curriculum.

Why did this happen? Well ... just to name a few:

High school biology teachers are having a hard time bringing in creativity when their curriculum focuses on memorization of terminology.

Grade 12 teachers are worried about the 50 per cent diploma and finding it hard to bring in innovation to their classrooms.

When we can’t measure what is important, we start making what we measure important. This is what happened over the last centuries, more and more low-level skills became important because that is what we can measure.

Critics of this change will use standardized test score data to justify that this change is not excellent for the students in our classes, and my quick response is: “How do multiple choice, standardized tests like PISA show creativity, innovation, interests, and passions of the students?”

They can’t, but they do show how well students can memorize and regurgitate; which is why these critics say these skills are important.

Lastly, I ask you, were you inspired while you were in school because of what you learned? Did you want to attend the next level of schooling because of the number of outcomes the teacher covered? Did you feel that your creativity and innovation was welcomed and could flourish while studying for a 50 per cent diploma?

If you answered yes to all of these, then maybe I have it wrong and I am simply an anomaly.

However, if you answered no then I ask you to join me and become inspired with the new curriculum.

Dave Martin

Red Deer



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