School district starting to explore new curriculum

A new education guide has been printed and the B.C. government expects to see it in classrooms very soon.

A new education guide has been printed and the B.C. government expects to see it in classrooms very soon.

The Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives in the Classroom: Moving Forward resource booklet was recently announced by Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation John Rustad on behalf of Minister of Education Mike Bernier at the annual B.C. Cabinet-First Nations Leaders’ Gathering in Vancouver on Wednesday, September 9th.

It is expected the booklet will help teachers find ways to incorporate Aboriginal content into schools in every subject and every grade.

“It is vital that Aboriginal history is included in our school curriculum to educate our youth on Aboriginal culture and ensure the legacy of residential schools is not forgotten,” said Rustad. “This guide is not only an important step toward helping our children understand the Aboriginal perspective, but also a step towards reconciliation.”

The booklet is based on key themes — including relationships; language and culture; community engagement; engagement with the land, nature, the outdoors; history; local focus; emphasis on identity; power of story; experiential education; and traditional teaching — and is geared toward introducing revised curriculum into B.C. schools over the next three years.

“Teaching our kids about Aboriginal history and culture is critical to strengthening our relationships, communities and province. This new resource provides teachers with the framework they need to ensure that Aboriginal content is being taught in the classroom to help our children appreciate, understand and value the importance of Aboriginal culture and history.”

Rocky Mountain School District No. 6 superintendent Paul Carriere believes the new resource will be valuable with respect to putting First Nations culture, history and perspective into context between both students and teachers.

“It’s an important resource that is intended to accompany changes in the new K to 9 curriculum, which is going to be implemented in 2016-17,” said Carriere. “This year is the exploratory year for teachers to sort of get into the curriculum and learn about it — that resource is intended to help facilitate that process.”

“And to support that, on October 23rd, we will be pulling together some teachers and our (Aboriginal educators) in the district to begin unpacking that resource and decide what materials we need to order as a district to go forward with it, to be housed by our district resource centre, so that schools can book out more resources and materials to help the process of integrating more of this content into the curriculum,” he added.

While the old curriculum included short snapshots of history in social studies, Carriere said the new curriculum will include a wide variety of subjects.

“In the old curriculum, the one that’s being phased out, you would see discreet pieces of information about Aboriginal peoples that were part of the Social Studies curriculum,” he explained. “Now what we’re seeing is those pieces are still there, but Aboriginal perspectives and world views are more woven into the curriculum as a whole. For example, in Language Arts, you’ll see that students will study about written traditions and they will study about oral traditions, and the examples that will be used will be Aboriginal cultures and the way that oral traditions have been handed down in those culture — and that’s just one example.”

The resource will be available for viewing on the Ministry of Education’s website and the Aboriginal Education website.

It will also be provided to school districts across the province, which aligns with the education recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

However, students may not see the full effects of the change this school year, unless teachers work ahead to learn the new material and plan to test new methods for teaching it.

It will be required in 2016-17.

Debra Fisher, who is the Shuswap Indian Band education co-ordinator and a part-time David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) Aboriginal education support worker, views the booklet as yet another useful tool to make education accessible to her students.

“Our school is already bringing the Aboriginal perspective into our subjects, so I think the transition will be smooth.”

DTSS Aboriginal education support worker Tracy Simpson agreed and added that the resources that are now being made available are geared towards connecting people, noting that nobody is being forced to learn.

“The onus is now on the province and the teachers to be mindful and make that part of the curriculum,” concluded Simpson.

To review the Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives in the Classroom resource booklet, visit www.bced.gov.bc.ca/abed/awp_moving_forward.pdf.

To see an explanation of the materials online, hover the mouse over bolded words.

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