Alberta’s proposed new curriculum for young students focuses on literacy, numeracy and practical skills including computer coding, budgets and public speaking.
But with no mention of treaties until Grade 4, and nothing about residential schools until Grade 5, the draft of Alberta’s new elementary curriculum fails Indigenous people, says Alberta’s NDP.
“What message does that send to Indigenous students who want to see themselves in the curriculum, who have been waiting for years to see their history taught in their classrooms,” said education critic Sarah Hoffman.
“This is a direct violation to the calls of action to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which calls on this to be included in kindergarten.”
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, who released the over 600-page kindergarten to Grade 6 curriculum draft on Monday, said she believes that Alberta will have the strongest Indigenous content.
“They will learn about the extraordinary beauty of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture. They will learn it in art, in music, they will learn it across all grades and all subjects. So what we believe, and what I believe, is we have the strongest content and we will be addressing issues of reconciliation, residential schools, of treaties, of the Reconciliation’s Calls to Action,” LaGrange said.
She quoted former Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild, a former member of the Reconciliation Commission of Canada – Alberta, who said he was “honoured to be a validator to the new education curriculum and looks forward to its transforming and positive change.”
The province said the updated curriculum brings a renewed focus to literacy, numeracy, citizenship and practical skills, to give students a strong base of essential knowledge for future learning.
The draft was the result of more than a year of consultations with parents, teachers, and subject matter experts, and was designed to improve student outcomes across all subjects following several years of declining and stagnant student performance.
Studies show a steep decline in literacy, math and science results among Alberta Grade 4 students since about 2006.
“This is unacceptable. We must do better at preparing our students and that’s exactly what this curriculum is designed to do,” LaGrange said.
Albertans can provide their feedback on the draft at alberta.ca/curriculum and school jurisdictions can volunteer to test the draft curriculum in September.
Jason Drent, associate superintendent of learning services with Chinook’s Edge School Division, said their schools will definitely be part of the pilot.
“We’ve got schools and teachers very interested to dive into this next year and provide that feedback,” Drent said.
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools is also preparing to review the new curriculum.
“We’re really looking forward to do that, and we really hope the public will, as well as our teachers. I hope everyone jumps in and gives their voice,” Jodi Smith, division principal who oversees curriculum at the Catholic jurisdiction.
Bruce Buruma, community relations director with Red Deer Public Schools, said the district is digging deep into the curriculum to see what it means and whether its schools will participate in the pilot.
“There are parts that are very exciting, and there are other pieces we need to take a closer look at,” Buruma said.
Curriculums are essential in preparing students, he said.
“We have an ever-changing world and we need to make sure that it’s going to prepare students so that they are ready for their futures.”