The latest draft curriculum for Kindergarten to grade four students in Alberta could be beneficial to the energy industry. Energy minister and Dunvegan – Central Peace – Notley MLA Marg McCuaig-Boyd says she sees many opportunities for information about energy development and environmental responsibility to be brought into the classroom.
“Maybe like the life of a well from beginning to end. That’s not specifically in there, but that’s a way you could teach about what are all the things involved… it’ll give them that problem-solving skills to look at any kind of issue.”
Industry stakeholders have been a part of the consultations so far. Work on the new curriculum for language arts, math, social studies, sciences, arts, and wellness education in June 2016.
McCuaig-Boyd argues the curriculum update is far overdue, as it’s been more than 30 years since some of it was created. She says she likes that what’s proposed goes beyond basic core skills, and hopes it’ll prepare students for future jobs that may not currently exist.
“What are the skills that are really critical that we want our students to have to prepare for those jobs. Personally, I think problem-solving is going to be a big one, but critical thinking, I think, how can we instill that in our students?”
Skills like critical thinking, literacy and numeracy will be a part of all subjects, and fractions, decimals and spatial awareness would be introduced earlier than they are currently. Physical education and health classes have been combined into a wellness curriculum.
The concept of consent would be taught starting in grade two, while personal space would be discussed as early as kindergarten. McCuaig-Boyd sees it as an important addition.
“Children have to know from an early age what’s okay and what isn’t okay. We’ve all seen the stories about predators and things like that and I think it’s important; you can’t start too soon.”
The draft curriculum also delves further into the history and culture of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people, which McCuaig-Boyd says is an important aspect of oil and gas projects. Students in grades one and two would start by learning about treaties and oral agreements with Indigenous people.
The province is still looking for input from the public on what’s being proposed. A telephone town hall is being held for northern Alberta residents on October 16th starting at 7 p.m. People can register online by 9 p.m. on the 15th or call calling toll free 1-877-229-8493 and entering the ID code 115500 the day of to take part.
The Q&A will also be livestreamed, but people watching there can’t ask questions. McCuaig-Boyd urges residents to take part.
“We all know how important the energy industry is up here and we like to hunt and fish and take care of the environment as well so we can all enjoy it, so I think people up here will have valuable input to this process.”
It’s expected Education Minister David Eggen will sign off on the new curriculum this December. Some classrooms would start testing it out next year, with full lesson plans to potentially start across Alberta in 2020.