For a while now I have been following the progress of the curriculum redesigning that is going on. This is an exciting time to be an educator in Alberta. As a new teacher entering the field I believe I am in a good position to accept and implement the upcoming curricular changes. Having just completed my university career, which means I just spent 4 years learning about the current curriculum, I have had plenty of time to reflect on what is being taught and how it is being taught in schools right now.
The world and how we interact in it is rapidly changing. Already the shift to an online and connected world has been taking place. This technology revolution has created new opportunities for learning, innovation, creativity and opportunities for previously unimagined jobs and occupations. All of these changes have been driven by my generation. But the next step in this revolution will have to be made by the newest wave of students. They are the future and will dictate where we go from here. This is why it is vital that we prepare our students for the changing world around them. We are now preparing students for an unknown and unknowable future with tasks and objectives to be completed that we cannot even dream of today.
The traditional way of educating has become insufficient. Basic knowledge is not an asset for students who can Google the answer to any simple question. It is no longer beneficial to hand our students lists of words, terms and formulas to memorize but rather we need to empower students to reach their full potential by emphasizing the development of key competencies. We need to engage students in critical thinking that encourages them to develop entrepreneurial spirits. I am excited about this shift in thinking. We know that every student learns differently and is motivated in different ways so it only makes sense that their education should be delivered on an individual basis. As well the programs and credit courses that are offered should be tailored to meet every student’s diverse needs. That is why I am excited to see the plans for the new curriculum and the options that will be available to students entering the school system.
One of the changes is a new dual credit strategy where students will be able to earn both high school and post-secondary credits for the same course. The credits earned in these courses could apply to workplace certification or advanced standing in post-secondary programs. This is a great way to make sure every student’s education is relevant and that those students can derive purpose from the courses and subjects they take.
An additional change that will be coming is improvement to the provincial diploma exams. Specifically, students will be provided with more flexibility and more options for writing the diploma exams through a digital format. This is exciting news and will benefit the students by giving them the confidence to succeed. Students write essays, answer questions and solve problems all on a computer but when it comes time for an exam it has been tradition to take tht technology away and make them write with a pen and paper. This is ridiculous in my opinion and detracts from the integrity of the assessment.
Another awesome shift that is coming is going away from simply linking credits to courses but instead, focusing on mastery of competencies. This high school flexibility program will mean more options for advanced and slower learners to progress at a rate that is better for them. Along with this is the introduction of student friendly assessments to replace the existing provincial diploma exams. The new assessments will focus on literacy and numeracy as well as give educators a way of allowing students to demonstrate competencies such as creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving.
All of these changes combined with the Education Act regulatory review which is focusing on helping provide students with the support and environment they need to be successful will mean a better education for this generation’s students. This is definitely an exciting time to be an educator! I love the shift in thinking and the steps this province is taking to ensure the success of our future leaders and innovators.
Alberta Education outlines the purpose and vision of the new curriculum on their website;
“To align with these shifts, Alberta’s future curriculum for Kindergarten to Grade 12 students will be built on a foundation of literacy and numeracy and will be digitally-based. It will place greater emphasis on the development of cross-curricular competencies to ensure that our students develop an interrelated set of attitudes, skills and knowledge that can be drawn upon and applied for successful learning, work and living. However, the subjects will increasingly become a means to an end – the vehicles through which literacy, numeracy and competencies are developed by students.
Less prescriptive curriculum will further enable teachers, as designers of learning opportunities, to better meet both their students’ diverse learning styles and needs that are unique to the local community.”
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