The Alberta government announced its plans to engage on a new draft of the new social studies curriculum Monday.
“Using the valuable feedback Albertans have provided over the last two years, Alberta Education is redrafting the K-6 social studies curriculum to ensure content builds students’ critical thinking and communication skills, enhances Indigenous, multicultural and Francophone perspectives and is age and developmentally appropriate,” a news release from the province said.
There is an online survey open now until Oct. 16 where Albertans can express what they think kids from kindergarten to Grade 6 should learn.
The government said it will also be meeting with educators, multicultural groups and Indigenous and Francophone communities to help inform the development of the K-12 curriculum, and in the winter families will be asked for more feedback.
Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said the engagement process will help build a comprehensive curriculum that will set Alberta students up for success.
Jason Schilling, president of the Alberta Teachers Association, said this approach puts the social studies curriculum development “back on track.”
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“I’m proud of my colleagues for standing up when the curriculum first came out and said: ‘This isn’t going to work for us,’ and it appears that government has listened so far and is moving in a better direction,” he said.
The original draft of the new curriculum was released in 2021 and was widely criticized for being Eurocentric and representing Indigenous and Métis communities in “tokenist” ways, Schilling said.
“We’re happy to see the government is changing direction on how they’re moving forward with this new curriculum and that they’re looking for stakeholder input, including teachers, but also Indigenous educators, Indigenous communities, Francophone communities and 2SLGBTQ+ communities,” Schilling said.
He said the curriculum was also age-inappropriate, with kindergarten kids learning about ancient civilizations.
“What we saw released today is very much going back to the architecture of the curriculum that we have in place now,” Schilling said.
“Kids in the early grades are learning about their community, their neighbourhoods, their towns and their cities, then as they get older, they learn about the province and then the country and then how democracy works.”
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The new draft also reflects changing views on social issues like anti-racism and LGBTQ2S identities as the world has changed a lot in recent years, he said.
“We can have those conversations with students at a very young age; it’s just a way of working with the profession to do it in a way that’s grade-level appropriate so that you’re not exposing kids to things too early,” Schilling said.
“They can have a discussion about right and wrong and acceptance and diversity because they see it in their lives on a day-to-day basis.”
Rakhi Pancholi, the NDP education critic, said the UCP’s first run at the social studies curriculum didn’t hit the mark.
“I hope that the UCP will ensure that as many teachers, parents and students as possible are able to meaningfully engage both with the survey and with the redrafted curriculum,” Pancholi said.
Teachers will start piloting the new K-6 curriculum in the classroom starting in September 2024 and provide further feedback, the province said.
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