Calgary school boards react to provincial government's announced curriculum changes

While it's too soon to say for certain how the provincial overhaul of the K-12 curriculum is going to impact schools, the Calgary Catholic School Board says that so far, the new policy seems to align with its practices.

Emphasis on numeracy and literacy already practised by Catholic district

The new K-6 curriculum won't be rolled out until 2021, and the junior and senior high school changes will take place the following year. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Alberta is getting a new curriculum, and both the Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Catholic School District say they are eagerly awaiting more information — but the Catholic board likes what it has heard so far.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced Thursday in a press conference that she had signed a ministerial order to rewrite Alberta's curriculum.

Literacy and numeracy will be two core components of the new learning plan, LaGrange said, which will move the province's schools away from approaches known as "discovery" or "constructivist" learning that were implemented by Alberta's Progressive Conservatives in 2014.

Helmut Kaiser, the director of learning services for the Catholic district, told CBC News that though he is waiting to hear more about the proposed changes, the vision laid out by LaGrange aligns with the Catholic school board's educational values. 

It already treats literacy and numeracy as core components, he said, because they are integral for students.

"Right now, numeracy and literacy are two foundational pieces that we promote in our classrooms, and that we teach in our classrooms, so that students can become critical thinkers and knowledgeable learners," Kaiser said.

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Discovery and constructivist learning — an approach to teaching that focuses on the needs of each learner and their individual competencies and skills — is not a method the Catholic school district wholeheartedly supports.

"We also have to make sure that they have the foundational pieces before they can go ahead and apply that knowledge in a contextualized environment," Kaiser said. 

"You can't just have kids go off on their own and go ahead and discover learning; that's not quite our approach."

Curriculum delay a relief, says Kaiser

Meanwhile, Calgary Board of Education chief superintendent Christopher Usih offered a succinct statement in response to the announced changes. 

"The Calgary Board of Education will comply with the ministerial order and implement the new curriculum introduced by Alberta Education," the statement read.

"We are interested to learn more and eagerly await the details."

As for the news that the new K-6 curriculum won't be rolled out until 2021, and that junior and senior high changes are to roll out the following year, Kaiser said the Catholic board is relieved.

"Just given COVID, and now we have the re-entry plans that we have to deal with, and gaps in learning that are coming up as a result of at-home learning, we're happy that the curriculum won't be validated until next year."


  • This article originally stated that "constructivist" or "discovery" learning was implemented by Alberta's NDP government. This is incorrect. We regret the error.
    Aug 07, 2020 5:51 AM MT

With files from Elissa Carpenter and CBC Edmonton