New curriculum set to be introduced this school year
By Davie Wong, Columnist
It’s only September, but big changes are already happening within the BC education system. Earlier in the month, Education Minister Mike Bernier announced during a press release that the BC government will be kicking off a new curriculum with a three-year transition. The new program is optional for this year but is expected to be fully integrated for Grades K–9 by September 2016, with a draft for Grades 10–12 expected to pass shortly after.
The reason behind the curriculum change is explained by the minister to Global: “Today’s students need the right skills to succeed in tomorrow’s world.” The new curriculum will continue to enforce learning basics such as reading, writing, and basic arithmetic, but will focus more on collaboration, communication skills, and critical thinking skills. The minister cited the need to better prepare students for college, university, and the workforce as the main reason behind the decisions made with the curriculum change.
The curriculum, which is assumed to have more relaxed standards, is said to be designed to allow students to learn about the core subjects while doing projects and integrating their own interests into their learning.
The new curriculum also includes a renewed emphasis on environmental sciences. In a generation where the world is beginning to see the environmental outcome of years of wasting, it is imperative that the younger generation learn more about conserving the world we live in. The new science section of the curriculum also focuses on integrating Aboriginal connections and cultural perspectives. The goal is to provide students with a respect for the natural world.
As another, broader feature, the new curriculum aims to better integrate Aboriginal perspectives and culture in all grade school levels. This includes teaching the history and legacy of the residential school system. The new curriculum also aims to add new content regarding the historical experience of East and South Asian immigrants and their journey over to Canada.
The changes are a stark contrast to 2014. At this time last year, public school teachers were in a five-week strike against the government which ultimately ended with both sides agreeing on a six-year contract.
Bernier continued his talks of the future in a comment to Global by assuring parents: “This is an opportunity for us as a province to make sure, no matter how, your child […] is going to get the skills to be successful in the future.”
Jim Iker, president of the BC Teachers’ Federation, confirmed with member of the media that teachers were included in all aspects of the curriculum development, and they are supportive of the changes. He did stress, however, that some teachers are concerned with the additional costs in funding that the new curriculum is bound to bring.
To this, Bernier reassured all teachers that curriculum has been long in the works and has been worked on by more than 100 teachers and education experts to ensure the creation of a flexible learning curriculum. He also confirmed that regular report cards with letter grades assessing students will remain an integral part of the new curriculum.