The Alberta NDP says it has heard Albertans concerns about the UCP’s new curriculum, and if elected in 2023, it will be tossed.
“We will immediately reverse the changes to the Kindergarten to Grade 6 curriculum being imposed by Jason Kenney and the UCP, and we will launch broader public consultation within 100 days of being elected,” party leader Rachel Notley said.
The Opposition leader made the statement Tuesday, after the UCP shared its proposed elementary curriculum last month.
It would see eight core subjects overhauled, stressing fundamentals such as spelling, phonetics, multiplication tables, how to research, think critically and weigh statements and arguments.
Long-time Lethbridge teacher Tavis Newman penned an open letter to the premier, calling into question how the proposed material will inspire and encourage students to learn.
It reads, in part, “the notion that our students must learn a prescribed list of the ‘great’ or ‘greatest’ works of art or literature is repeated at least 13 times. The list of authors outlined in this document reads like a course syllabus for a post-secondary student pursuing a Master’s degree in classical works.
“It is simply not appropriate for a K-12 curriculum.”
The proposal directs that students be introduced to world religions, Canada’s history, and the contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures — as well as the experiences of the Black and francophone communities. Some say it falls short though.
At Notley’s press conference, Métis student Charles Barner voiced his concerns about the lack of Métis history and student engagement in the new curriculum.
“The education minister promised that students would be able to see themselves in this curriculum, but I don’t see myself,” Barner said.
“This curriculum teaches more about European history than about the history of the Métis people who share such a deep connection with this land. We need better.”
Treaties and residential schools would not be taught until the later grades in the overhauled curriculum.
“Métis people were not a side-note in the curriculum development process,” a spokesperson for Alberta Education told Global News in response to similar criticism by the Métis Nation of Alberta last week.
“In both French and English Language Arts and Literature courses, students will study oral traditions and stories of the Métis people. They will also learn about Métis lobsticks and their significance. Students will also learn about Métis jigging and the individual and collective benefits of the dance,” Justin Marshall, press secretary for Minister LaGrange, said.
Marshall went on to detail other subjects that Métis history will be incorporated into, including science and social studies.
Palliser School Division, along with the Lethbridge School Division and the Holy Spirit School Division, said they have not yet decided if they will take part in the pilot.
Several school divisions in the Edmonton area have already said they won’t piloting the draft curriculum this September.
Under the UCP, new learning plans for grades 7 to 10 are to be in place the following year, and one for grades 11 and 12 in September 2024.
— With files from Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press