I currently have been to many curriculum redesign talks, symposiums, and discussions and I have never been more excited in my life around educating children in Alberta. I am truly inspired!! Now of course not all feel this way and so I bring to you "why you should be excited."
First, David Staples from the Edmonton Journal says,
It has had a profound influence, so much so that if you have a child in school after 2016, they will get a fundamentally different education than you got.
This makes me happy. I am not claiming I received a bad education, but I do feel that I want something better for my own daughter. Currently we have a model where tests, which are focused on the low level of bloom's taxonomy, are being used rampant throughout our culture. If you think this should be the norm I bring you a quote from Seth Godin,
As soon as we associate reading a book with taking a test, we've missed the point of literacy
If you are still not convinced that our curriculum needs a change, here is what Jeff Johnson, Alberta's Education Minister, says,
Our [current] packed curriculum stifles creativity in the classroom. It’s too packed. There’s too much stuff to try to get through and it doesn’t allow enough flexibility to individualize learning, which is going to be really key in the future.
How will the new curriculum work? Again, David Staples sums it up fairly well when he says,
Teachers will do far less direct instruction so that students can increase their knowledge base. Instead, students will focus on more group and project work. Teachers are to act as guides who assist kids as they explore areas of interest.
Finally, the goal of education will be creativity and innovation and to truly inspire students to learn more. I think back to my math classes, which I usually finished with 95-100%, was I inspired to become a mathematician, an engineer, a scientist, or even to attend the next level of math? From some classes yes, but this was due to the excellent teacher I had in front of me, not because of the excellent curriculum. Why did this happen? Well...just to name a few
Gr. 3 teachers are having a hard time inspiring students while they teach their 1352 mandated outcomes
High School Biology teachers are having a hard time bringing in creativity when their curriculum focuses on memorization of terminology.
Grade 12 teachers are worried around the 50% diploma and finding it hard to bring in innovation to their classrooms.
Since when we can't measure what is important we start making what we measure important. This is what happened over the last centuries, more and more low level skills became important because that is what we can measure. Critics, of this change, will use standardized test score data to justify that this change is not excellent for the students in our classes, and my quick response is "how do multiple choice, standardized tests, like PISA show creativity, innovation, interests, and passions of the students?". See they can't, but they do show how well students can memorize and regurgitate; which is why these critics say these skills are important.
You can't change the input or the process of education and not expect a different output. Since the output is different, the way we measure this "new output" must also change.
Lastly, I ask you...."Were you inspired while you were in school because of what (not who taught) you learned? Did you want to attend the next level of schooling because of the number of outcomes the teacher covered? Did you feel that your creativity and innovation was welcomed and could flourish while studying for a 50% diploma?"
If you answered yes to all of these, then maybe I have it wrong and I am simply an anomaly, however if you answered no then I ask you to join me and become inspired with the new curriculum.
Stop Stealing Dreams, Seth Godin
Dave Martin is a Math and Technology teacher at Notre Dame High School in Red Deer, Alberta. He currently sits as the President of the Central Alberta Teachers' Convention, as well as he is the Chair Person of the Alberta Teachers' Association Local 80 Professional Development Committee. See more of his writing at http://realteachingmeansreallearning.blogspot.ca/