While proposed school curriculum changes are raising eyebrows, a provincial government spokesman says the document merely represents recommendations and will be reviewed by a group of hundreds of teachers this fall. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Critics tear down Alberta government’s leaked curriculum proposal

‘Children are framed as these empty vessels that need to be filled up with facts and dates’

A proposed kindergarten to Grade 4 curriculum for social studies and arts by the government of Alberta’s advisory panel is creating a stir in the education community.

The document, which outlines some of the topics students would be expected to know, was first revealed by the CBC.

In it, the policy writer emphasizes, among other things, the importance of memorization, including having pupils learn 36 historical dates by the end of Grade 4.

Dwayne Donald, an associate professor at the University of Alberta’s faculty of education, said the document doesn’t encapsulate modern learnings about children and how they gather knowledge.

The document can be found here in three parts:

“I think parents across the province, and anybody who has studied children and how they learn, and how they find meaning, should be quite troubled by this.

“Really, what it does, is it takes the complexity of human experience and everything we’ve learned about teaching and learning, and flattens it,” he said.

“Children are framed as these empty vessels that need to be filled up with facts and dates. There’s no allowance for understanding children as being pretty intelligent and able to express themselves in multiple ways. None of that is there.”

Alberta Teacher’s Association president Jason Schilling said the document outlines a regressive and inappropriate approach. He added it highlights the critical problem of cutting teachers out of the curriculum process.

“Teachers are experts in curriculum; they understand the readiness of young students for different pieces of content, and they understand what it means to bring curriculum to life in the classroom,” he said.

“I am calling for the minister to unequivocally reject these proposals and to immediately bring teachers back to the table on curriculum development.”

In a statement, Colin Aitchison, press secretary for Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, said the document merely represents recommendations and will be reviewed by a group of hundreds of teachers this fall.

“They are not the final curriculum. The new curriculum will teach our students a full history of Canada, including First Nations, Metis and Inuit history, including residential schools,” he said.

“No final decisions have been made, and a draft version will be available to the public in the new year.”

Donald, who also specializes in Indigenous culture, said the recommendations focus on the past and don’t embrace a modern understanding of First Nations culture.

“In general, there is a racist dismissiveness that is embedded in most of what I saw for the kindergarten to Grade 4 social studies,” he said.

“There’s no recognition of the current existence of Indigenous people in Canada. It’s all kind of history coverage about how things were in the past. Any mention of Indigenous tradition is framed in dismissive ways as mysticism.”

According to Donald, the document also minimizes the impact and understanding of residential schools.

“Residential school experience is characterized as not unique to Indigenous people. The way they try to frame it is as though people all around the world struggled with Dickensian approaches to schooling,” Donald explained.

“The other thing they say is that children that young, from kindergarten to Grade 4, they’re not ready for the story of residential schools, so they don’t include it.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lieutenant Commander Nicole Robichaud welcomes Members of the Liberian Coast Guard aboard Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) MONCTON for training with Royal Canadian Navy off the coast of Monrovia, Liberia, Africa on NEPTUNE TRIDENT on March 25, 2017. (Contributed photo by Corp. Ryan Moulton).
Red Deer-raised woman finds her sea legs as commander in the Royal Canadian Navy

Cdr. Nicole Robichaud started out as a local sea cadet

Rode
Feddema adds size and grit to RDC basketball Queens

Iris Feddema has known for several years what she wanted her future… Continue reading

A local photographer captured the contrails of two planes that crossed in the sky over north Red Deer on Wednesday. (Photo contributed by Eric Fischer)
Photo: Planes criss-cross over Red Deer

A local photographer captured the contrails of two planes that crossed in… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Evan Siddall is pictured in Ottawa on September 21, 2017. Former head of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Evan Siddall has been named as the next chief executive for Alberta Investment Management Corp. He will succeed Kevin Uebelein. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AIMCo names former CMHC head Evan Siddall as next chief executive

AIMCo names former CMHC head Evan Siddall as next chief executive

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canadian home sales up 76% year-over-year, set new March record: CREA

Canadian home sales up 76% year-over-year, set new March record: CREA

WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims addresses the airline's annual meeting in Calgary, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
WestJet CEO Ed Sims finds Air Canada aid package ‘bittersweet’ as talks drag on

WestJet CEO Ed Sims finds Air Canada aid package ‘bittersweet’ as talks drag on

The TMX broadcast centre is shown in Toronto on May 9, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
S&P/TSX composite, Dow Jones and S&P 500 set record highs as mood rises on economy

S&P/TSX composite, Dow Jones and S&P 500 set record highs as mood rises on economy

A man wearing a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 checks his phone as the sun sets in English Bay in Vancouver on April 5, 2021. Canada's existing mobile phone services and consumer groups will get a landmark ruling from the CRTC this afternoon. The regulatory ruling could shift some of the market power held by Rogers, Bell and Telus, which collectively have more than 90 per cent of the country's subscribers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
CRTC to allow smaller wireless players better access to national networks

CRTC to allow smaller wireless players better access to national networks

In this photo taken Sunday, May 17, 2020, U.S. and Canadian flags fly atop the Peace Arch at Peace Arch Historical State Park on the border with Canada in Blaine, Wash. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Elaine Thompson
A electric car is seen getting charged at parking lot in Tsawwassen, near Vancouver B.C., April, 6, 2018. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
‘Wrong signal:’ Federal ministers protest Saskatchewan’s electric vehicle tax

Two federal ministers are protesting Saskatchewan’s plan to bring in a tax… Continue reading

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s charities are looking to next week’s federal budget with hopes the Liberals will extend their sector a helping hand as they face the possibility of a prolonged and protracted road to recovery even after the economy reopens. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Charities hope Liberals’ budget lends helping hand as sector eyes long recovery

OTTAWA — Canada’s charities are hoping the Liberals extend them a helping… Continue reading

Most Read