After more than a year of consultations with parents and teachers, details on revamped Alberta K-6 school curriculum - still in the draft stages - were unveiled March 29th.
Adriana LaGrange, minister of education, said that curriculum is based on, “Proven research and is designed to improve student outcomes across all subjects, following several years of declining and stagnant student performance.
“I really believe in my heart that this new curriculum will position our children for great success and give them the best chance to reach their potential,” she said. “In the last election, we heard loud and clear from parents that it was time for a renewed focus on special knowledge and skills in the K to 6 curriculum,” she added.
“Albertans will have many, many months to have their say - as will teachers. Some classrooms will begin piloting the new curriculum on a voluntary basis this September. We will hear what teachers think while they are actually teaching it.”
LaGrange explained that parents and teachers will see four key learning themes surfacing throughout the curriculum: literacy, numeracy, citizenship and practical skills.
Under literacy, students will be taught to master reading, writing, speaking and listening via using phonics and “other proven best practices.”
And under the citizenship theme, students will draw from history, geography, economics, civics, and other studies to, “Develop an appreciation of how Canadians have built one of the most generous, prosperous, and diverse societies in the world.”
Practical skills runs the gamut from learning about household budgeting, digital literacy and business planning to healthy relationships and the importance of consent, she said.
Some educational experts and community leaders have already offered their views of the curriculum changes to date.
“The new K-6 curriculum is inspired by the science of reading and brings to our teachers, parents, and children what is currently known around the world as best practice to support our children to become successful readers and writers,” noted George Georgiou, professor, faculty of education - educational psychology, University of Alberta.
“I am thrilled that the Alberta government has ensured that consent will be taught as an essential part of the K-6 curriculum,” added Sheldon Kennedy, co-founder, Respect Group.
“I have been advocating for these changes for many years and applaud this leadership,” he said.
“We clearly know that this topic thrives on society’s ignorance and indifference so the sooner we give our young people the tools and confidence, the better. To prevent maltreatment we need to start at the youngest age possible, so, in my mind, this education will not only change lives, it will save them.”
Looking ahead, LaGrange said that the the Province will hold to a transparent review process.
“I want to remind everyone that this is a draft curriculum that is looking to be piloted this September. It will not become finalized until 2022 and there is an opportunity for all Albertans to have a say in what they see.”
To that end, the draft K-6 curriculum is online at alberta.ca/curriculum for all Albertans to provide feedback until the spring 2022, she added.
Students are expected to be learning from the new curriculum during the 2022-23 school year.