June 18th, 2024

Leave curricular development to experts

By Letter to the Editor on August 2, 2018.

The Alberta Curriculum joke continues. After much criticism and growing backlash to the current curricular developments in mathematics and social studies, the minister of education elects to survey the public about curricular development.

I don’t quite understand the process nor the point of a survey to the general public prior to introducing a model. When you design anything from a car to a manufacturing process, you first gather together the appropriate expertise and develop a prototype to present to the intended audience. It is then that public input is valid and/or relevant. Will it sell, Can they drive it? Can they follow the process to the end product?

Math curriculum changes and the proposed social studies curriculum does not seem to be selling, because they are poorly designed. So now the government wants to survey the public about curriculum development. Why?

First, the surveys are suspect in manipulating opinion by the way questions will be asked and what questions the current ideologues think are relevant. Second, a majority of public opinion will not design a better curriculum; but the results of such a survey may later be used as a stick to beat down legitimate criticism. Perhaps if they simply asked, Who would you rather have design a math curriculum — mathematicians or College of Education psychologists? Who would you rather design a social studies curriculum — history, economy, and geography experts or College of Education sociologists? And should we provide industry leaders greater latitude and input about the skills that are to be required for future career development rather than College of Education graduates?

With all due respect to teachers and the educational community, they may be excellent at what they do, but the very nature of the College of Education courses and subsequent experience limit their knowledge of subject content. They have learned how to teach, but what they teach is a question best addressed by greater societal expertise. It appears that just such expertise has not been consulted in current designs. Alberta Education will not even release the names of the current designers.

Finally, I visited the website the minister posted. The lack of information this site contains would fill volumes.

Richard Dietrich

Medicine Hat

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