Thursday, March 13, 2014

Elementary considerations: Who should be involved in primary school curriculum

A happy coincidence resulted in me seeing a furor erupt over oil and gas industry involvement in developing a school curriculum in Alberta along with an explanation an industry would do so, from a company that moved it's manufacturing out of Ontario to North Carolina.
“If we’re going to build a relevant education system, we need the voice of the employer, the business community, economic development — we need those people at the table.” - Alberta Education Minister Jeff Johnson
Critics raise concerns over oil industry involvement in Alberta curriculum redesign | Edmonton Journal
EDMONTON - Critics say they’re worried about the direction of Alberta’s massive overhaul of school curriculum after it was revealed Tuesday major oil companies are being consulted on changes.
A document posted to the Alberta Education website indicates companies such as Syncrude Canada, Cenovus Energy and Suncor Energy are included among partners “in helping draft Alberta’s future curriculum for our students” from kindergarten to Grade 12.
Specifically, Syncrude and Suncor are listed under a working group being led by the Edmonton public school board in the K-to-3 redesign.
NDP education critic Deron Bilous, who raised the issue Tuesday in the legislature, said it is “shocking and very concerning” that oil and gas companies could have a hand in shaping the curriculum taught to kindergarten students.

“This is when kids are in their most formative years, when they’re the youngest and there’s no reason why oil companies need to be setting the direction,” he said. “It really makes me wonder what value will they gain from it and how this is going to impact our students.”
Mike Hudema, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Canada called it “very troubling.
“I think it’s the job of the government and teachers to present well-balanced views on different issues and subjects within Alberta and having Syncrude and Suncor as explicit partners in the redesign at least gives the impression that the table is not balanced,” he said.
Maria Ebrahim's Edmonton Journal article is one of many that came out: the CBC, Salon, Huffington Post (with poll) and the Desmog blog are some of the others.  The articles mostly imply the involvement is to brainwash the children to be favourable to oil and gas.

Another reason is found in an article I read because it dealt with a plant that Siemens chose to consolidate all it's North American manufacturing of gas turbines - eliminating 550 jobs in Hamilton, Ontario.

Siemens and Training and Qualification | The Energy Collective:
“The oil and gas industry and manufacturing generally in the U.S. have a bit of a branding problem in the United States,” Spiegel said. To fix that, Siemens is working to nurture in energy at the middle school level and not wait until college with hopes students will become interested.

“If you wait until high school and they don’t have the right STEM (for science, technology, engineering and math) skills they’re not going to be successful going to college,” he said.

“They say most kids start getting excited about a career in 3rd, 4th or 5th grade,” Spiegel said.”They may not know what career it is they want, but that’s when they start getting excited about topics and subjects.”
 This entire article can be read at The Energy Collective

It would seem if we want people to do things other than condescend, children will need to know relevant facts about how industries important to their current society, and respect the type of skills required for those industries to exist.

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