Re-imagining the Past, Present, and Future of Education in Alberta: An Evening of Dialogue
The recent release of Alberta’s new K-6 draft curriculum across eight subject areas by the United Conservative Party has been met by a storm of controversy. Ongoing and vigorous public dialogue around the future of K-12 education in Alberta have raised fundamental questions that transcend individual subject area concerns including the place and purpose of schooling in Alberta today, what and whose knowledge should be included in a modern curriculum, and the role of the teacher in educating the young.
In a May 2021 online gathering, scholars within the Werklund School of Education’s Curriculum and Learning specialization sought to create a deliberative space to engage such questions. While recognizing the importance of the many critiques that have been raised in relation to the proposed curriculum, the event intended to spur constructive imagination. The five questions posed in the videos below were followed by small group discussions (unrecorded). The video shorts are meant to further discussion and expand thinking around present and future possibilities for education in Alberta and beyond.
Dr. David Scott is an Associate Professor in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. His work focusses on how educators, and the public more generally, interpret and respond to new policy and curricular mandates particularly within the area of social studies and history education.
Dr. Maren Aukerman is Werklund Research Professor at the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. She studies reading comprehension, classroom discourse, and pedagogies for democratic education.
Dr. Jackie Seidel is an is an Associate Professor in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. Her scholarship focuses on what it means to live, teach, and learn in a time of climate and biodiversity crisis. She is passionate about teacher education, ecological studies, ecopsychology, and bees.
Dr. Ronna Mosher is an Assistant Professor at the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. Her scholarship focuses on classroom and school practices through curricular, pedagogical, and leadership perspectives.
Dr. Aubrey Hanson is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta and an Associate Professor at the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. Working in Indigenous education and curriculum studies, she connects scholarship and practice in education to the vibrant, urgent work of Indigenous resurgence through the literary arts.
Dr. David Scott
How can looking to the past help us better understand what is at stake in contemporary debates surrounding curriculum?
David Scott outlines how the rise of authoritarian populism and the accompanying culture wars have influenced and shaped the current Government’s approach to curriculum development. The case is made that in politically polarized times, discussions around the future of education cannot be resolved through appeals to research as they are fundamentally about competing beliefs related to what education is for and who ‘we’ are and wish to become as a community.
Dr. Maren Aukerman
What does it mean for children to flourish in schools in the present tense?
Too often, curriculum looks rigidly toward the future, as if all that mattered for children were some (uniform) future self they are all supposed to become, that their education can “make or break.” Educators and policymakers need to push beyond this logic to also deeply consider: How are children experiencing joy, relationships, and meaning in their current, lived experiences in school?
Dr. Jackie Seidel
What does it mean to think about ecological citizenship and the planetary future in education?
While curriculum and schooling remain predominantly subject discipline focused, with a primary aim of preparing children for the future of ‘work’ and political citizenship, a biodiversity crisis of unprecedented and life-threatening scope is unfolding globally. What kind of curriculum and schooling is appropriate for this time?
Dr. Ronna Mosher
How do we live well amidst a curriculum “out-of-sync"?
Much of the response to the new Alberta draft curriculum points to how it is out-of-sync with public sensibilities, the lives of students, and even its own goals. This talk attends to the experience of being “out-of-sync” as a difficult, yet possible, temporal condition under which curriculum exists.
Dr. Aubrey Hanson
What happens when “great” literature does not include literature from this time or place?
Resisting the belief that “great” literatures arise only from past European societies, such as Ancient Greece or Renaissance England, this provocation calls for literary studies that reflect this territory and this time period. The draft curriculum is being critiqued for failing to include any contemporary Indigenous writing — or, in fact, writings from Alberta or Canada — while including a limited range of British, Greek, and Roman literatures. This talk considers why it matters to engage with Indigenous literary arts in seeking out literary brilliance.