ATA News

Curriculum development still falling short

Young boy reads a book

Once again, we find ourselves talking about the social studies curriculum, as on March 14, the government released its newest updated version of the disaster that was originally released in 2021. The latest draft is better than the “history-of-the-world-starting-at-kindergarten-with-the-Greeks-and-Romans” version; however, it still needs a lot of work. 

Teachers have the knowledge and experience to help the ministry improve the draft. The Alberta Teachers’ Association has always maintained that teachers can help identify developmentally appropriate concepts, ensure that concepts go beyond surface-level and engage students in higher-level thinking. Teachers can also identify and ensure all grade levels integrate critical thinking skills. 

Teachers know that a good curriculum reflects and respects diverse ideas, viewpoints and identities. Teachers also know what will and won’t work in their classrooms. We all know that teachers do not want to implement a curriculum that will fail or harm students and that we need time to give thoughtful and detailed feedback to this latest draft. 

Time is always a factor. Throughout teachers’ conventions, teachers told us in great detail the issues they’ve been having with the rushed new math curriculum, and that fielding test was too short. We do not want to see the same mistakes made with social studies. 

The Association was consulted on this curriculum draft in the fall, but not to the full extent we experienced prior to 2019, when the partnership in curriculum development was torn up by then education minister Adriana LaGrange. Besides, we want our involvement to go beyond consultation. Going forward, teachers need to be involved in curriculum development rather than just giving feedback on a completed document, especially when work begins on grades 7 to 12. 

I am usually not one to say we need to go back to the good old days, but in terms of curriculum redesign, that may just be the case. In the past, curriculum was renewed in a cyclical manner. Schools and teachers knew what subjects were up for renewal and when, and a plan was in place to address resources, feedback, field testing, teacher professional development and assessment, which have been largely absent in government releases. 

The bottom line is that teachers need to be more involved in curriculum development to ensure it reflects the best interests of our students. ❚

Cartoon image of Jason Schilling
Jason Schilling

ATA President