Pretty much everyone in the Kootenay Lake school district is feeling optimistic about the new curriculum coming into effect this year and next, but trustees are voicing concerns about the timeline required to implement it.
“We believe the ministry’s timeline at the district level is too rushed,” trustee Rebecca Huscroft said at the most recent school board meeting, urging the board to join her in writing about these concerns to the Ministry of Education.
At issue is the amount of time teachers have to learn the new curriculum requirements and incorporate them into their classrooms.
Some have elected to go ahead with certain courses, though they’re not yet required to do so, and younger grades have already made the transition.
Trustee Curtis Bendig voiced his support for the letter, but said the board should be careful to simultaneously express their commitment to and enthusiasm for the curriculum long-term.
“Let’s make sure we emphasize how strongly we feel about the new curriculum, and make it clear that this is nothing but a timeline problem.”
The board voted unanimously in favour of sending the letter.
Shortly after the vote passed, the board heard a presentation from place-based learning expert Monica Nissen, who works as a co-ordinator for Wildsight, an environmental group in the East Kootenay.
“I saw the results of the recent student symposium, and one thing one was clear: students all wanted to get outside,” she told them.
“We’re into 21st century learning now. Take a moment to think about what that means to you,” she said, before asserting that students would have to cope with “unprecedented” environmental issues in the years to come.
“The new curriculum is very much competency-based,” she said. “It’s about who these students are going to be in the world.”
Nissan presented some of the “big ideas” covered by the new curriculum. One was as follows: “The solar system is part of the Milky Way, which is one of billions of galaxies.”
The new curriculum also has an increased focus on aboriginal perspectives, which Nissen said will be “embedded into all aspects of the curriculum.”
Another mandated goal is to encourage students to cultivate “a lifelong harmony with nature.”
Bendig thanked Nissen for her time, adding he enthusiastically supports place-based learning that sees students civically engaged and engaging in activities outside the four walls of the school.
“This is learning. This is the direction we should be going.”