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News & Press: Provincial

Perspective on Education Curriculum

March 12, 2014   (3 Comments)
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Letter to the Editor - submitted by Alberta School Councils' Association President

There has been a lot of talk in the media lately about K-12 education. While it is always a good thing that parents and others are engaged and interested in the topic and sharing ideas, the Alberta School Council Association (ASCA) promotes a clear understanding of all the aspects of any issue affecting education.

Let’s start with math. Each curriculum has a set of outcomes that students are expected to achieve and, as with any curriculum, teachers have a certain degree of latitude and flexibility in their approach to delivering this curriculum to students so the outcomes are achieved.

This includes whether or not to have students memorize multiplication tables, use different and varied methods to teach multiplication, or use a combination of methods. Teachers today have a variety of learning styles in their classrooms, and meet these varying needs in different ways across subject areas.

Now let’s contemplate the future.

Recognizing how quickly the world around us is changing, Albertans, including parents, said (through the public consultation called Inspiring Education) that in order to prepare students for a future where technology is changing the way we access knowledge, where economic power is shifting and competition is on the rise, where brain research is informing how children learn, and where the pervasive use of social media is dominating our lives, learning should be grounded in literacy and numeracy skills providing our youth with a solid foundation.

Albertans said students should be prepared through a curriculum that is relevant, instills a curiosity to learn more, engages students and builds their critical thinking and problem solving skills, motivating them to strive for success. Albertans recognized that the current way of teaching and learning needs to evolve so our kids are prepared for a world we can only imagine a few years from now.

Right now in Alberta schools, students are being provided opportunities to be engaged in learning that we could not have dreamed of twenty years ago. Learning from Chris Hadfield while he floats in space, connecting with engineering or physics experts at MIT or the U of T, speaking with an Inuit elder and learning how global climate change is impacting the Canadian arctic – these are only some of the opportunities that exist for our students today and tomorrow.

Inspiring Education is building on today’s achievements, re-thinking and redesigning all aspects of teaching and learning, including curriculum, assessment and a variety of other elements, so Alberta’s students will be the engaged thinkers, ethical citizens with an entrepreneurial spirit needed for tomorrow’s world.

ASCA encourages parents and school councils to “get the facts” on what’s happening in your school. Talk to your teachers, principal, superintendent and school trustees or contact the Alberta School Councils’ Association to learn more.

Brad Vonkeman, President

Alberta School Councils’ Association

Comments...

wayne lenhardt says...
Posted March 28, 2014
and for lorangers comment.....the student may not need the testing, but we, as a society do need this, to see what it is that our "outcomes" have been----ie, whether the billions we are spending on education over time, is showing any results. And BTW, (if memory serves) the Canadian Council of Chief Executives have taken an interest in education (see their web site), and according to their research, Alberta has, since 2006, been steadily slipping in the PITA tests to 13th, with the trend line downwards, even though the ATA in its latest newsletter claims (or implies) we are at the top. Although Alberta has a 4 page ministerial order for teacher evaluation, it seems that there is no evaluation, a good deal of the time. And virtually NO evaluation of principals.
wayne lenhardt says...
Posted March 28, 2014
we are getting a lot of generalized buzz-words, and not a lot of that "critical thinking" that is being touted. Put differently, "the devil is in the details". "rethinking" and "redesigning" sound great, but presupposed that what we are doing somehow NEEDS "rethinking" and "redesigning". Perhaps it doesnt. Who could disagree with "engaged thinkers". As opposed to "unengaged thinkers"? who are those persons? "ethical citizens".....as someone has said, one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter. What is an "enterpreneurial spirit"? How would one test to see if we have created one? And I havent even started on the fact that, using any IQ standard, one half of the student population will be below the mean (or median if you like) and one half above. What the bright kids need, and are capable of, may not be what the sub-par ones need and are capable of.
Paul Loranger says...
Posted March 14, 2014
Anyone with grey hair can recall the open classroom movement as well as back to basics. It is either to focus on the child or what is needed to be learned. What is important to note is what is improving in the process which the article does not cover Active research on issues that do concern the child, do promote student inquiry and does engage the child. Homework which is passive research unrelated to student's life does not. Global education in having classrooms from different locations discuss existing issues does promote ethical thinking through video conferences. Using ipods and ipads for group projects encourages modern day entrepreneurship in finding new solutions. By subjectively evaluating their performance in these new learning experiences, they see the need for more basics. In its absence, the child is rightfully asking "Why am I being tested?" Paul Loranger educational consultant

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