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Editorial: Curriculum du jour


In Alberta this week, a leadership candidate for the United Conservative Party was talking about the changes he’d like to see made in that province’s curriculum.

“We would focus on enhancing the curriculum from an Alberta perspective, by improving financial, historical and energy literacy,” Brian Jean told the CBC. “Alberta’s the best province in the best country in the world, and our students need to be taught exactly that.”

Jean’s complaining, in part, about an ongoing six-year, $64-million overhaul of the province’s K-12 curriculum.

Jean suggests he would “reverse any ideological curriculum changes the NDP make,” while his policy states, “From what we have seen in the social studies curriculum, there is far more emphasis on ideological social change than in preserving what makes Alberta one of the best places to live in human history.”

Stop.

Just stop.

Young minds aren’t meant to be indoctrinated into the ideology of whatever the mindset of the current government is — they’re meant to get the best educational footing they can, in the best circumstances they can learn in.

In this province, we’re also in the midst of a review, with a task force suggesting changes to everything from inclusive teaching to student mental health and in basic math and reading curriculum.

It’s good, it’s overdue, but across the country, you get a strange feeling that you can hear the sound of wheels being reinvented.

Manitoba is promising a system-wide education review, Saskatchewan launched one last November, Ontario released its plan for improving the quality and delivery of rural education for students in rural and Northern communities in June, Nova Scotia is expecting an independent review of that province’s education system by the end of this year, and the list goes on. The message seems to be to campaign provincially on a promise of education reform, because no one’s ever satisfied with the system that’s in place.

Are the needs of students in the K-12 system really all that different across the nation? Couldn’t there be one cross-country model for education — with space for regional history and social studies components — that would give equal opportunities for early education right across the country?

Obviously, education is a touchstone for voters, especially voters with children in the system. But the endless reviews — and the endless calls for reviews when cross-country standards show how differently students are performing — suggest that there might well be a place for a national model. A model that comes with a national curriculum, nationally measured goals and standards, and a mechanism for helping areas that have difficulty reaching those standards.

It’s not so much that it should be one size fits all — but more that, with the 11 or 12 sizes we’re trying on now, nothing seems to fit properly.

Surely we can do better — and not by having another round of matching individual reviews right across the nation.

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