Ditch the Draft is a group that opposes the new K-6 curriculum draft put forward by the Alberta Government. Coreen Calkins, a Substitute Teacher with the Grande Prairie and District Catholic Schools says the draft curriculum will cause unwanted stress for students and teachers.
“In math, they want students to learn fractions starting in grade 1, rather than grade 3. Students are still learning the concept of what whole numbers are, and adding and subtracting them. It’s beyond their developmental stage of learning. All teachers who have gone to teachers college or university understand that fractions should not be taught in grade 1,” she says.
Social Studies is another area of concern for Calkins. The draft curriculum proposes that students learn about the foundations of modern civilization in grade 3, rather than remaining where it currently is in grade 5.
“This includes the foundations of modern civilization from the 1800s for China, Greece, Rome, and Persia instead of Canadian History, which is currently being taught. These are huge concepts for children to grasp at a younger age. It’s going to add so much stress to students and teachers,” she says.
Calkins wants people to understand that a lot of new material proposed by the government is already being taught in schools, she feels there is a misconception out there.
“For example, the government says that there is no current focus on works of literature. There are novel studies in every grade, starting in grade three,” she says.
Calkins says that other teachers feel the same way. 56 out of 61 school boards in Alberta refused to pilot the curriculum.
“I’ve talked to a lot of teachers in different schools and some of them are considering retirement if these changes stay in place. I’m not saying the current curriculum is perfect and we had talks with the government about tweaking it to best serve students, but never of this nature,” she says.
The Ditch the Draft protest is happening all over Alberta on April 2nd, including a protest at City Hall in Grande Prairie.