Alberta ditches experimental environmentalist curriculum for something practical

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on January 31, 2020

Alberta’s Education Minister, Adriana LaGrange, has endorsed the Curriculum Advisory Panel report recommending Alberta’s curriculum to emphasize teaching students to perform well on standardized testing. 

This is being done not only to raise literacy and numeracy rates in Alberta schools but also to reorient the curriculum to focus on job readiness after graduation. 

Along with the more job and results-based focus for literacy and math-based subjects, LaGrange has also reported both from the panel and personally seeing a need to implement a more balanced ideological take on issues like climate change and the oil and gas industry. 

On climate change, LaGrange had said, “There was a particular document that was shown to me recently — and I currently have my department exploring — in terms of our children being taught that they are the final generation to deal with climate change,” which is, of course, a fringe view on the health of the climate. 

This particular change was more controversial, with NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman saying, “I do think there are ulterior motives here,” going onto imply this educational change has to do with the Alberta Energy War Room.

Although there may be opposition to the Alberta UCP government’s approach to education reform, it has been a well-known fact that Alberta’s education quality has been slipping for the past decade.

Back in June of 2017, the Calgary Herald had noted that in 2007 the Alberta PC government had adopted strategies to let kids “develop personal strategies” when it came to learning such subjects as math. This curriculum was ironically labelled the “discovery” math model, as few students seem to be discovering mathematical skills.

Turns out when you let children who don’t know math and even less about how to teach it, teach themselves they will likely come up short compared to the traditional and well-worn methods of memorization and repetition. 

Math is not like literacy skills; subjectivity in learning a very objective area of study will only lead to confusion on the part of students. 

In 2015, 13 percent of grade 4 students were not math literate, which was an increase of 6 percent since it was taken previously in 2011. By 2015 only 2.4 per cent of students were considered at the top level of mathematical ability when it had been 9 per cent only four years prior in 2011.

Alberta NDP Education Minister back in 2017 had even acknowledged the need for reform stating that “We know loud and clear, we’ve heard from parents and students and teachers and professors, that we need to strengthen our curriculum,” although nothing was done after the fact, making NDP criticism of coming UCP reforms seem even more hollow. 

Along with standardized testing and more objective standards for learning mathematics and a balanced approach to subjects in social studies and sciences to improve the quality of education, LaGrange also wants to focus on getting students focused on potential career paths sooner than graduation day.

LaGrange said, “There is value in exposing students to experiences outside the classroom that can build awareness and opportunities on the variety of career paths and choices available to them.”

LaGrange also assured that the new Alberta curriculum would also teach students practical life skills as well, skills, so many graduates will say they wish they learned while in school.

“We heard very loud and clearly, as did the panel, the importance of starting financial literacy at a very young age so that students who graduate have the ability to do their taxes, have the ability to balance a bank account or look at a loan.” 

The education meant for primary school students should have never be fiddled with in the first place, the potential for negatively impacting the academic outcomes of kids is far too risky to upend the entire way of teaching certain subjects, hoping it would work better.

Alberta will soon move away from the experimental “discovery” style of education, and try to balance ideological bias in the classroom, hopefully bringing back traditional methods of teaching will bring Alberta’s education back to the days when it was the best in Canada.

Wyatt Claypool

Wyatt is a student at Mount Royal University, where he is the president of its Campus Conservative club. In his writing, he focuses on covering provincial and federal politics, firearms regulation, and the energy sector. Wyatt has also previously written for The Post Millennial.

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