'Angry and disappointed': Critics lash out against leaked curriculum advice
CALGARY -- Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange is defending the work of a panel providing advice on the province’s new curriculum after leaked documents were criticized by education experts and the Alberta Teachers’ Association.
The documents were obtained and first reported on by CBC News Wednesday and include suggested changes to the kindergarten to Grade 5 social studies curriculum.
“Advice is advice,” LaGrange told reporters. “No final decisions have been made.”
Among the many notes and proposal made by the panel member, one includes a suggestion to keep the history of residential schools out of the classroom until children are older.
“Residential schooling that applied to some Indigenous kids can probably best be saved for later when learners are more mature and are less emotionally vulnerable to traumatic material,” reads one note in the document.
Amy Burns, the associate dean at the University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education, says residential school history can and should be taught to young children in an age-appropriate way.
“To me, this is a mistake,” Burns said. “This is an example of us simply trying to erase part of Canada’s history.”
"I felt very angry and disappointed, and essentially felt disgusted," said Melissa Purcell, an Alberta Teachers' Association Indigenous education expert.
The province says some the suggestions were made by Chris Champion, a panel member who previously called teaching First Nations perspectives in classrooms a "fad."
LaGrange says Champion is just one member of the 17-person advisory panel.
“Residential schools and the truth and reconciliation component, our commitment to First Nations, Métis and Inuit content will be throughout the curriculum,” LaGrange said.
The document also includes recommendations to make young children memorize dozens of sounds, dates, historic people and places.
“The changes are significant and I think what’s really interesting is they’re taking away some fairly key elements from, in particular what we know about at this time, K to 4 learning,” Burns said.
The province says advice from all of its panelists will go to a group of teachers this fall, then a draft of the curriculum will be released to the public in January.
With files from CTV Edmonton