What are we teaching our kids?

Wayne Jackson

June 09, 2022


As the end of the school year approaches I reflect back over the past years and look to the future thinking about this question: What are we teaching our kids? Does anyone really know? Is it preparing the future generations for a world in flux? At one of the school councils I attend we spoke about this on Monday (the last council meeting of the year), that the fall is going to bring possibly the largest change to the provincial curriculum at one time that has ever been seen. To make matters worse, the curriculum is being introduced with little to no working knowledge due to lack of piloting.


The administration of the school has prepared as best they can and have come up with some really innovative ways to teach the curriculum using paired teachers so each teacher doesn’t have to prepare multiple subject lesson plans for the first time. Humans are really adaptive and teachers maybe moreso than most…but..what are we teaching our kids?


When the UCP government introduced their 12 member curriculum advisory panel in August 2019, I’m sure everyone was as skeptical as I was. It was mere days after I had sat in a town hall held by Calgary-Edgemont MLA Prasad Panda at the Uplands in Hawkwood, where the message was delivered loud and clear by a largely partisan crowd - “Do not mess with Education”.  The proposed curriculum was released in the spring of 2021 following a series of events including the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, a particular shambles of a news conference in August 2020 and backlash from every potential stakeholder outside of the advisory panel following its early leak to the press. Truly it drew the ire of everyone who had anything to do with education from students, to families right on up to education experts. If you’re a bit like me, you try to follow the news, but it’s easy to not keep up. In the end,  Alberta Education went back to the drawing board and came back with something else - but what was it exactly? Who has worked with it? What are we teaching our kids?


It turns out what is actually being released in the fall is mostly focused on Math and English Language Arts, Phys Ed and Wellness. There is still a larger rollout planned for 2024, which will be, or should be, a subject of the election. The NDP has already indicated they will scrap all curriculum introduced by the UCP if elected in 2023. Rather than consider whether the current changes have any merit, they would rather once again plunge the whole system into chaos for yet another election cycle. What are we teaching our kids?


We all know that education is crucial irrespective of what political party is in power. Hard work and very intense advocacy by parents like myself and you has pushed back on a potential debacle and actually got us through a pandemic and to the point where we do have some semblance of a reasonable curriculum to implement. Teachers are not as prepared as they should be and yet are resolute that this curriculum can be worked with. We need a better process to introduce new curricula. It should be done on a rolling basis, with diverse, yet specific input and opportunities for stakeholders to make adjustments. It should be renewed at least every decade (if not sooner) and this means it can not be politicized. It can not be a political tool to be tossed between the left and the right and subject to ideological gerrymandering. Ultimately, we must always be working to keep our education system the best in the world, as it has been for the last several decades - and taught in countries around the world as a result. That is what we should be teaching our children, rather than being forced to repeat the lessons of the past 8 years: we can all work towards maintaining  an education system that keeps up with the times and prepares our youth for the uncertain future we face.