Alberta releases draft of new kindergarten to Grade 6 curriculum

CALGARY — The Alberta government’s new kindergarten to Grade 6 curriculum will be tested in some classrooms starting in September with plans to roll it out to the rest of the province in 2022.

Public feedback will be collected on the draft over the next year. 

“The new curriculum delivers on our commitment to Albertans to refocus learning on essential knowledge and skills in order to give our children the best possible chance at success,” said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange in a statement released Monday.

The minister says $6 million in funding is set aside to pilot the curriculum rollout this year.

According to the government, the new curriculum is the result of advice and feedback from 19 subject matter experts, 30 academics and more than 100 current Alberta teachers. 

The curriculum is built off four key themes, LaGrange said, including literacy, numeracy, citizenship and practical skills. The draft is more than 600 pages long and provides guides and outlines for K-6 education in language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education and fine arts. 

The new curriculum draft comes after a leaked version of the rewrite was criticized by education experts last year.

At the time, a note from one panel member suggested the curriculum keep the history of residential schools out of the classroom until children are older. 

In the new curriculum released Monday, residential school history isn’t introduced to students until Grade 5 social studies. The government said the timeline was based on feedback and advice from advisors. 

Speaking to CTV News in October of 2020, Amy Burns, associate dean at the University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education, said residential school history can and should be taught to young children in an age-appropriate way.

“To me, this is a mistake,” Burns said at the time. “This is an example of us simply trying to erase part of Canada’s history.”

The Alberta NDP opposition said delaying the teaching of residential school history until Grade 5 is a step backward.

“What message does that send to Indigenous students who want to see themselves in the curriculum who have been waiting for years to see their history taught in their classrooms?” said Education Critic Sarah Hoffman.

Kristopher Wells, the Canadian research chair for the Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth, said there are other omissions in the new guide, too. 

“I went online and searched the draft curriculum and could find no mention of sexual orientation, gender identity or even the words human rights,” said Wells. 

“It’s as though the entire LGBTQ community has been erased from this curriculum.”

But the government says the new plan will address family diversity. 

“In kindergarten students begin to learn about the diversity of family structures by studying their community, family tree and how these can differ from other families in their class,” reads a statement from Justin Marshall, press secretary for the education minister.

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