ATA News

ATA calls for delay to social studies curriculum rollout

Young male teacher shows off globe to students

The Alberta Teachers’ Association is calling on the government to pause piloting of the K–6 social studies curriculum in order to better integrate feedback from teachers.

Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides announced April 26 that the new social studies curriculum will be piloted in the fall. 

“I am incredibly proud of the work that’s gone into developing this new K–6 social studies curriculum, and I am excited to see how it transfers into the classroom through piloting this fall,” Nicolaides said. 

“I look forward to further collaboration with school leaders and teachers as we continue our work to build a comprehensive curriculum that builds students’ critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making skills, and empowers them to be active citizens.”

The latest draft of the social studies curriculum was released on March 14 following a series of consultation initiatives dating back to the fall. These included feedback-gathering sessions at teachers’ conventions throughout the province, but ATA analysis has determined that the program of studies is still far from where the teaching profession would like it to be.

“We welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback ... unfortunately, teachers’ recommendations are not reflected in this most recent draft,” said ATA president Jason Schilling in a news release. “Rather than proceeding to pilot a curriculum that we know is flawed, let’s take the time needed to get it right and ready for the classroom.” 

Among teachers’ concerns are the unrealistic number of concepts to be covered, some of which are developmentally inappropriate and conceptually inaccurate, as well as failing to engage higher order thinking skills, Schilling said. 

A May 13 meeting of the Association’s Curriculum Committee will gather insights from field members regarding further Association response to the newly released curriculum content, the piloting and implementation process, and future curriculum development work in other subject areas.

The Association will continue to advocate with ministry officials for the direct and substantive involvement of teachers in any future curriculum revision and development processes, Schilling said. In the meantime, he’s urging the government to slow down, since schools are overcrowded and understaffed, and Alberta elementary schools have piloted and implemented new curriculum across four subject areas in seven grade levels over the past three years.

“What’s the rush? The problems currently being faced by teachers having to implement a flawed math curriculum demonstrate the risk of proceeding prematurely to implement new curriculum content and design,” Schilling said.

“Alberta students deserve the best, and so we must make the effort and take the time to get this right.” ❚