Message from the Association of Alberta Deans of Education

The Association of Alberta Deans of Education supports a curriculum that prepares learners to be full participants in democratic society.

4 February 2020

For more than 100 years, a central aim of schooling has been the education of citizens to prepare learners to be full participants in democratic societies. This fundamental aim is more expansive than to produce well trained, productive workers. While citizenship and work are certainly not mutually exclusive, citizenship education as a central goal of schooling helps us to think more broadly about the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are important to a healthy and prosperous democratic society. The ability to think critically, understand complex issues and perspectives, engage in problem solving, and participate in democratic processes are core to citizenship and the evolving nature of what is required in a prosperous and stable economy. For these reasons, as Deans of Education in Alberta, we are deeply concerned that the recently released recommendations on the Direction for Curriculum in this province are too narrowly focussed on job readiness.
The recommendations do not, in our opinion, support the goals of citizenship education. Rather, they seem to advance a narrower vision for curriculum content that "integrates awareness and exploration of careers" (recommendation 8), and that "creates opportunities to bring the needs of Alberta's employers into the curriculum development process" (recommendation 11). While the panel recommends that the curriculum be written in 'unbiased' language, in fact many of the recommendations demonstrate bias in favour of particular content and delivery approaches. This has always been true of mandated curriculum, because it is, by the very nature of how it is constructed, ideological. And this is one reason why citizenship education, with its emphasis on critical thinking and understanding, is critically important.
Finally, the panel recommends that teacher education programs be examined to support "quality delivery of curriculum" (recommendation 16) as if Faculties and Schools of Education in the province don't already advance strong pedagogical understanding and practice. To date, the Alberta Deans of Education (AADE) have not been consulted on curriculum reform in Alberta, despite our considerable expertise, knowledge and research evidence of educational research. We stand ready to lend our support to the development of a curriculum that is truly reflective of a system of education that inspires, enriches, and ignites a love of learning in children and youth who, as young citizens, will shape the future that lies in front of them.
We welcome an opportunity to meet with Minister LaGrange to discuss our concerns.
The Alberta Association of Deans of Education (AADE)