Wednesday, May 24, 2017

--- The rewriting of Alberta’s Social Studies curriculum is turning into an educational travesty.--------Julie Ali · University of Alberta I have had the opportunity to look at the social studies curriculum in the past with my two sons. I never felt that the curriculum for social studies was very history oriented to begin with so the changes that are being proposed won't (in my opinion) do much to improve the course work. Social studies never seemed to be a robust field of study and so making it even weaker seems like the usual progression of education in Alberta. You ask the interesting question: When did “history” become a dirty word?--I guess it became a dirty word a long time ago when we weren't given the history of many marginalized citizens such as the First Nations Folks. In other words, the history we were taught, the history that my sons were taught and the history that is going to be taught are all various versions of the facts; governments seem to be selective about the facts that they want disseminated to the people. The problems being mentioned in the new curriculum --such as the activism emphasis is a good one in my opinion even if there is a weakening of the information being presented. At least our kids will learn how to change the world. As we're all likely to experience change associated dislocations, it's good to learn from the beginning how to advocate for ourselves and others as well as how to manage change. All education is a form of indoctrination no matter which political party is in charge and the solution to the deficiencies in the education system is to augment your child's education. I believe that the education we are given is simply a skeleton and we can flesh it out as we wish. No one is forcing us to keep ourselves or our kids ignorant and if government won't provide what we consider essential information well then there is nothing to stop us from providing this information to our kids is there? Parents can always buy their kids history books and take the time to take kids to the library. Teaching your child to think independently can do much to eliminate the fads and problems of any curriculum. Best to understand that although the government provides the skeleton, families decide on the fleshed out body of knowledge. Like · Reply · Just now


Julie Ali
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Much ado about nothing. Folks can always give their kids history lessons. It's not as if the social studies curriculum to date was providing a whole pile of essential information to students. All families need to do is teach their kids history or better yet take the kids to the public library. Instead of depending on government, do it yourself.
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http://edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/david-staples-new-social-studies-curriculum-pushes-social-change-not-history

David Staples: New Social Studies curriculum pushes social change, not history

Published on: May 23, 2017 | Last Updated: May 23, 2017 7:58 PM MDT
Education Minister David Eggen announces the results of a curriculum survey in a trades classroom at Westmount Junior High School, in Edmonton on April 13, 2017.
Education Minister David Eggen announces the results of a curriculum survey in a trades classroom at Westmount Junior High School, in Edmonton on April 13, 2017. DAVID BLOOM / POSTMEDIA
The rewriting of Alberta’s Social Studies curriculum is turning into an educational travesty.
The concept of teaching history is out of style, it seems. In its place is an inappropriate over-emphasis on social change and activism.
The new Social Studies curriculum is shaping up to fail spectacularly when it comes to providing the wide breadth of knowledge about our society, our world and our history that would give real power to students. Instead, it seeks to limit their worldview, with a narrow focus on the particular issues of the modern social justice movement.
The activist focus comes through in the Alberta Education’s new curriculum planning documents, one that lays out plans for the scope and sequence of K-12 Social Studies and another outlining the general philosophy. They are part of a new survey on the curriculum which runs until June 2.
The documents are full of vague motherhood statements, but also tip their hand. For example, we are told that Social Studies is about exploring diversity, but there’s also to be a repeated focus on First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Francophones. I should make clear that a Social Studies program that failed to look at Canada’s history of oppression of marginalized groups would also be a travesty. But when there is no sequential, systematic, thorough and ongoing study of human history as a whole, our students end up lacking the necessary knowledge to engage in sound debate and critical thinking.
A main plank of the new curriculum is to turn students into “agents of change,” as one curriculum spokesperson has put it. For example, one of the proposed main thrusts of  Grade 3 Social Studies will be to answer the question: “How can we create change?” And in Grade Four: “In what ways have individuals and groups in what is now Canada taken action to effect change?”
Now, some folks will see no harm with a focus on such questions. But I’d ask those same people, what if social conservatives wrote this curriculum and drove their own agenda, forcing Grade 3 students to focus on this question: “How can we create respect for tradition?” And Grade 4 students: “In what ways have individuals and groups taken action to respect our traditional values?”
In the end, neither a social justice nor a social conservative agenda is appropriate. Instead, our students need knowledge. World history is vast, complex and confusing. Surely the goal of Social Studies should be to teach as much knowledge as possible to students so they aren’t swamped by this complexity and doomed to confusion.
In fairness, I should say that these are incomplete planning documents. Grade Eight social studies teacher Chris Dittmann of Calgary says plenty of history is now being taught and the learning outcomes for what history will be taught in the new curriculum are still be to added in. “It’s hard to tell if there’s an agenda, or what the agenda is, without seeing those learning outcomes.”
Dittmann makes a good point. At the same time, however, I note the word “change” is mentioned 24 times in the scope and sequence document. The word “history” is mentioned just once.
When did “history” become a dirty word?
In his own examination of these planning documents, Stuart Wachowicz, former director of curriculum in Edmonton Public schools, sees a push for social activism shaping up, but the teaching of knowledge greatly de-emphasized and with dire consequences.
“You cannot reason, you cannot analyze, without an information base,” Wachowicz says. “In math, in science, you need an information base, but also to understand the flow of social events on this planet over thousands of years, you need to understand the history of it.
“Knowledge outcomes don’t figure very prominently in this curriculum. This is all about teaching opinions. It’s teaching the opinion of the extreme left, an opinion of radical socialism.”
The implicit ideology in the curriculum documents is that “change” is a societal good in itself. As a result, I suspect that historical examples that reinforce narratives of the right kind of change will be cherry-picked and taught. But I doubt there will be a major unit on “Change Gone Wrong.”
In the study of societal oppression, for example, I don’t expect any mention of the current socialist nightmare in Venezuela, not to mention the more extreme examples of the mass slaughter of ideological opponents by righteous change-obsessed zealots in the Soviet Union, China and Cambodia.
I’ll leave the last word here to Wachowicz, the curriculum expert, who pulls no punches: “This curriculum will end up with very opinionated but poorly educated students.”
dstaples@postmedia.com
twitter.com/DavidStaplesYEG

Julie Ali · 
I have had the opportunity to look at the social studies curriculum in the past with my two sons. I never felt that the curriculum for social studies was very history oriented to begin with so the changes that are being proposed won't (in my opinion) do much to improve the course work. Social studies never seemed to be a robust field of study and so making it even weaker seems like the usual progression of education in Alberta.

You ask the interesting question: When did “history” become a dirty word?--I guess it became a dirty word a long time ago when we weren't given the history of many marginalized citizens such as the First Nations Folks. In other words, the history we were taught, the history that my sons were taught and the history that is going to be taught are all various versions of the facts; governments seem to be selective about the facts that they want disseminated to the people.

The problems being mentioned in the new curriculum --such as the activism emphasis is a good one in my opinion even if there is a weakening of the information being presented. At least our kids will learn how to change the world. As we're all likely to experience change associated dislocations, it's good to learn from the beginning how to advocate for ourselves and others as well as how to manage change.

All education is a form of indoctrination no matter which political party is in charge and the solution to the deficiencies in the education system is to augment your child's education. I believe that the education we are given is simply a skeleton and we can flesh it out as we wish. No one is forcing us to keep ourselves or our kids ignorant and if government won't provide what we consider essential information well then there is nothing to stop us from providing this information to our kids is there?

Parents can always buy their kids history books and take the time to take kids to the library. Teaching your child to think independently can do much to eliminate the fads and problems of any curriculum.

Best to understand that although the government provides the skeleton, families decide on the fleshed out body of knowledge.
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Doug Sharpe and 3 others shared a link.

The rewriting of Alberta’s Social Studies curriculum is turning into an educational…
EDMONTONJOURNAL.COM
  • “Knowledge outcomes don’t figure very prominently in this curriculum. This is all about teaching opinions. It’s teaching the opinion of the extreme left, an opinion of radical socialism.”
    Parents, is this what you want your children to learn while at school?
    Comments
    Michelle Frazer-Jones Bloody Marxist post modernists.

    Reply12 hrs
    Don Sharpe “This curriculum will end up with very opinionated but poorly educated students.” What a nightmare public education has become.

    Reply
    2
    12 hrs
    Brian Rushfeldt poorly educated but well indoctrinated.

    Reply11 hrs
    Dan Lodovica "Notre Dame 'grads' walked out of their graduation ceremony with the US Vice President Pence on the podium about to give the commencement speech." was in the news this week. Will that scenario be repeated in the next few years because of this New Social Studies curriculum?

    Reply11 hrs
    Brian Rushfeldt promotion of immorality with Eggen and his buddies involved.

    Reply11 hrs
    Luisa Cisterna This would be one more chapter for Clio's Bastard

    Reply11 hrs
  • Alberta's social studies classes may become more about social activism than history.
    Comments
    Jon Tupper There is a difference between education and indoctrination. It is shameful that the NDP care more about the later than the former

    Reply7 hrs
    Julie Ali Education has always been about indoctrination. The PCs were exceptionally good at it and the NDPCs are simply continuing the business. It's important to learn to think despite an education.

    ReplyJust now
    Julie Ali I see nothing wrong with activism.

    ReplyJust now

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