Prairie Post (West Edition)
Alberta’s new proposed curriculum desperately needs to be up for debate
“Who wrote the Alberta Government’s new curriculum?” asks a recent ad from the ATA.
I have been adamant that teachers did not write the 2021 K-6 draft curriculum. It is an inadequate, cobbled-together disaster. If teachers had been collaboratively involved, there would be clearly communicated outcomes and engaging sequences of learning where each new skill builds on the ones before. There would be recognition that young children move from concrete to abstract thinking and learn new things by connecting to their own experiences and prior knowledge. There would be recognition of how much can be “covered” in the instructional minutes for each subject. The 2021 draft curriculum fails on all these counts.
I have a theory that some of the curriculum was written by a cut-rate curriculum company in the States. That would explain the references to “reservations” instead of “reserves,” the reference to “Canadian units of measurement” and the Social Studies task where students originally were told to take out a map of Alberta and calculate the distance from Regina to Duck Lake (both in Saskatchewan).
When the UCP came to power, they tore up the memorandum of understanding with the ATA that had teachers working collaboratively with Alberta Education to create curriculum. Yet the UCP continues to maintain that teachers were involved in the “development” of the curriculum during the 7 months (7 months!! Source: Alberta Education) that it took to completely rewrite every subject in grades K-6. What might that teacher involvement have looked like?
During a Have Your Say session, when I asked about teacher input, the presenter referenced 102 selected teachers, labelled a “working group,” who got two days (minus time lost to technical difficulties) on Zoom to give (easily ignored) feedback after the draft was completed. When I asked who wrote the curriculum, I was referred to a web page that said nothing except that the much-publicized, seriously under-qualified “advisors” did not write the curriculum.
Perhaps some of the draft curriculum was written by teachers seconded to Alberta Education? An anonymous post in the Facebook group Albertans Reject Curriculum Draft described a seconded teacher working in isolation from home and being told “Write this. Like this.” Little input. No collaboration. That teacher was stressing about returning to school in the fall and having to explain his/her part in the failed curriculum.
Perhaps former teachers, now permanent staff at Alberta Education, were involved in writing the draft curriculum? Wally Bearhead tweeted “It seems like there’s a lot of stress leaves, retirements, and people leaving for better places. I was told about a lot of situations where people working there cried over some of the stuff being put into the curriculum because they knew it wasn’t for kids.” New job postings for important positions do not require any education background at all. How many teachers are left in Alberta Education?
Teachers and curriculum experts were not involved in any meaningful way in the “development” of the failed draft curriculum. So who wrote this inadequate, cobbled-together disaster?