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New curriculum gets an ‘F’

The UCP accused of failing to deliver
core concepts to Alberta students

Critics are complaining that the UCP failed to consult teachers and experts. (Chris Ranta)

By Preston Hodgkinson

THE UNITED CONSERVATIVE PARTY’S K-6 curriculum has come under fire since it was released March 30. Educators have called out the draft for ignoring significant events in Canadian history and putting ideology above education.

Neil Korotash, the Alberta Party’s shadow minister of education, said the new curriculum fails to deliver core concepts to Albertan students. 

“The biggest overarching problem with this curriculum,” he told The Magpie, “is that it really doesn’t get at some of the core competencies that we are trying to instil in our students … things like critical thinking and problem solving.

“Under this new draft, the curriculum writers focused on the ‘core knowledge approach,’ where the idea is to cram as much information into the brains of these students.” 

There are also concerns about who put the curriculum together. While previous iterations were the result of years of debate between educational experts, Korotash said, that wasn’t the case this time around. 

“The process established under the NDP was very thorough,” he said. “It involved teachers as partners of the table. It brought in curriculum experts and pedagogy experts from around the province and consulted with thousands of stakeholders in education.

“This time around, teachers weren’t nearly as involved, pedagogy experts weren’t as involved. There was not even a single teacher on the panel that was reviewing the curriculum.”  

‘I can barely get my eight-year-old to pick up her clothes,
so how do we expect them to retain all this info’ 

It isn’t just teachers who are upset about the curriculum. Many parents are livid with the UCP for introducing a curriculum that they say isn’t age-appropriate. A popular Facebook group called “Albertans Reject Curriculum Draft” has attracted 34,000 members in just a couple of weeks. 

Steph Wiebe, a member of the group and parent of a third-grader, said that the sheer amount of material in this curriculum is unreasonable and age-inappropriate. 

“These kids just finished having naps and they’re coming to school having to learn a huge amount,” she said. “I’m not a teacher or an expert, but I am a mom. I can barely get my eight-year-old to pick up her clothes, so how do we expect them to retain all this info.” 

Aside from this, there is also concern about the lack of proper Indigenous representation. 

“Not representing the First Nations People is just sad,” Wiebe said. “My daughter has learned more about First Nations than I knew five years (ago) and I think that is so important. We need to teach them the history of our country – both good and bad.” 

The curriculum is still in its early stages and isn’t expected to be fully implemented until 2022. That said, the government has had some trouble securing pilot projects. The Edmonton Public School Board recently announced that it had rejected the curriculum, and many more are expected to follow suit. 

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