Curriculum development now political

It’s hard for teachers in the public and separate schools to understand, but the facts are you as a collective group are not particularly well liked.

Notwithstanding, many teachers as individuals are well respected.

The ability of the government to pass Bill 9 to take away the rights of your signed collective agreement and the subsequent shelving of new K-4 curriculum because it was developed by working classroom teachers, without an uproar from the voting public, clearly shows the contempt this province has towards your profession.

And when teachers, nurses and the rest of Alberta’s public servants get their five per cent pay cut with the upcoming fall provincial budget, don’t be surprised, the majority of Alberta will cheer.

I don’t think Albertans hate teachers, but we certainly resent teachers.

First, every working stiff in Alberta is jealous of your vacation time and your ‘supposedly’ short work day.

Second, every professional in Alberta is envious that you get your professional development time paid for and provided during regular working hours.

Third, teachers in Alberta are the highest paid in Canada.

Fourth, really bad teachers are never fired.

Fifth, everybody has had a bad teacher to blame for their lack of success in life.

Sixth, Albertans hate unions and professional associations.

However, as much as teachers are envied (obviously few people have been in a classroom lately), and as much as unions and professional associations are hated in Alberta, it is regretful that our government is choosing to harm our children’s education to get back at this collective group of professionals.

In my November 2, 2018 column, I wrote with enthusiasm about the new K-4 curriculum to be rolled out this September.

It placed more emphasis on rote learning and traditional calculation methods, such as stacking numbers for addition and subtraction.

A new curriculum outcome included the expectation that students would once again be required to memorize both timetables and addition and subtraction combinations.

Additionally, Grade 1 students would have been introduced to basic fractions and more emphasis was to be given to working with money and manipulating two- and three-dimensional objects.

The provincial government was also proposing student teachers be required to take more math courses before earning a teaching degree, regardless of what speciality they have chosen.

A grasp of basic number facts, geometry and algebraic reasoning is shown to improve a person’s ability to solve problems and develop abstract thinking.

These are absolute skills necessary if today’s youth are going to compete successfully in tomorrow’s economy.

This curriculum was developed with more collaboration and input from stakeholders and the public than had ever been done previously on a curriculum rewrite.

The digital economy is new, but the math skills now being promoted have always been important to every generation since the industrial revolution.

In math, as in reading, if you don’t get the basics at each step, you’re forever behind and eventually lost.

Canada’s economy can no longer afford to absorb that loss.

The names of the panel who will rewrite our curriculum have not been revealed, but one can guess it will be a group of neo-liberal ideologues who are more concerned with propagating their worldview on sex and science than on our students staying competitive internationally.

 

B. Schimke

ECA Review

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