Bernier aiming to make changes to school curriculum

As reported earlier, Education Minister Mike Bernier is moving, to start this school year next week, by introducing a new curriculum with the aim of turning students’ passions into academic success.

However, it turns out he’s also stirred the passions of at least one parent advocate, who believes the new approach involves implementation of teaching methods which have been proven to fail in jurisdictions where they’ve already been tried.

Speaking on CKNW open line radio Tara Houle has argued what this new flexible approach is really going to do is dumb down an entire generation by not giving the basics the attention they deserve…

“Instead of acknowledging the knowledge that your teacher can teach you through explicit or teacher led instruction, why don’t you go do a group project and maybe you can do an art project about it. It’s complete lunacy. They have to have guidelines in place and measurable learning outcomes so teachers know exactly what kids need to have mastered. We have none of that under this BC ED plan.

For his part, Mr. Bernier insists, as he did during the roll-out of the new plan earlier this week, the focus will remain on the success required basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, and he adds because the plan will be phased-in over three years, how students are graded will also be assessed.

“As a parent there’s still going to be a mechanism in place with grading to allow you to understand how your child is doing in school.”

The Peace River South MLA is convinced the new flexibility in the program will have positive learning curve results, using as an example students who learn much better in a hands-on auto shop than they do sitting at a classroom desk.

“They didn’t understand algebra in the way that it was being taught in the older curriculum but now with this hands on they’re taking a motor apart, putting it back together. To do that you actually have to understand algebra, math, and physics.”

However, Houle counters that argument with this one.

“We’ve already seen a massive decline in our children’s math skills at the school level. The single biggest fundamental flaw that we’ve seen in terms of math is that they are having a massive lack of their foundational skills at the elementary level. Underneath this BC ED plan it’s going to get even worse.