Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

A CENTRE OF EDUCATION – F.H. Collins Secondary School (centre) is seen Thursday afternoon, with the new francophone secondary school under construction (left) and the new running track and soccer pitch (right). The new school curriculum for senior students will offer more localized content.

Curriculum changes loom on eve of school year

Yukon students entering Grades 11 and 12 this year will be taught with more flexibility and more localized content under the territory’s new curriculum.

By Gabrielle Plonka on August 16, 2019

Yukon students entering Grades 11 and 12 this year will be taught with more flexibility and more localized content under the territory’s new curriculum.

“All Yukon students will now be learning from a more modern, more relevant and more student-centred curriculum with hands-on learning opportunities that incorporate Yukon First Nations language, history and culture,” said Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee in a statement released Thursday.

The curriculum’s implementation is the final update in a multi-year roll-out beginning in 2017 and affecting Kindergarten to Grade 12. 

According to Thursday’s release, curriculum updates for Grades 11 and 12 will include these five major changes:

  1. More hands-on learning opportunities for students;

  2. More personalized learning opportunities based on student interests;

  3. More focus on finance, career education and life skills;

  4. More Yukon content and Yukon resources to teach the curriculum; and

  5. Yukon First Nations ways of knowing, doing and being integrated into the curriculum in all subjects and grade levels.

Yukon schools will continue to increase informal communication with parents through email, phone calls and face-to-face conversations.

Teachers are also expected to provide parents with examples of student work, including relevant feedback for improvement.

Information on a child’s work habits and behaviour should be included in report cards as well as informal updates.

New territorial assessments will also be implemented. The numeracy assessment for Grade 10 was implemented last year, and the literary assessment will be implemented this year, and the literacy assessment for Grade 12 is planned for 2021.

According to Paula Thompson, the Education department’s director of curriculum and assessment, the new syllabus will be an improvement for Yukon students. 

“We hope students would see a more direct engagement in activities,” she told the Star Thursday. 

With increased hands-on and personalized learning opportunities, Thompson says, teachers will have expanded flexibility in how they engage their students.

This could mean increasing classes spent outside, connecting with the land, or using teaching methods specific to the character of the classroom.

“When you hook into what students are interested in, the connections in their brain are able to fire up in a more solid way,” Thompson said. “They’re better able to store that information and retrieve it.”

These personalized methods might be tailored to the entire classroom or to the individual student, Thompson explained.

Students will also have more flexibility in their class schedules.

While core subject areas remain the same, students have a wider variety of options within that area.

For example, Thompson said, some students will have the opportunity to create their own “specialized science” curriculum using elements from multiple classes.

Thompson admitted the greater flexibility will be challenging for teachers, but has faith this challenge will be met.

“Teachers work super-hard and … they keep learning, they keep tweaking, they keep sharing with each other as strategies evolve,” she said. “It’s a pretty dynamic profession, and I think that’s what draws a lot of people (to it).”

Schools will also have a level of autonomy regarding how they implement financial skills, life skills and career options education to their classrooms.

Thompson said smaller schools might choose to offer specialized classes every second year, or integrate the information into existing courses.

A major addition to the Yukon’s curriculum will be an increase in First Nations education.

According to René Dove, the director of First Nations Programs, the territory partnered with Yukon First Nations elders and knowledge keepers to build a guideline for teachers.

Instructors are encouraged to further localize these guidelines using the teachings of the specific Indigenous groups in their communities.

Dove hopes the increased Indigenous education will help combat the comparatively low success rates of First Nations students.

“They (First Nations students) don’t see themselves in the classroom, so they don’t engage,” Dove said. “If they don’t engage, they’re not going to learn.

“We want to close that success rate gap and see their success in life improve.”

Dove added that understanding of Indigenous history is “part of all of our histories” and important for the education of students of all backgrounds.

“Students should know about the lands that we live on,” she said.

According to Thompson, the department has been working with teachers over the last several years to help them get ready for the change. Training opportunities for educators will continue over the course of the school year.

In a word to concerned parents, Thompson clarified that the curriculum changes will continue to meet post-secondary entrance requirements.

The new curriculum was adopted from B.C.’s changes, and has followed a similar timeline.

Comments (10)

Up 0 Down 0

Seth Wright on Aug 23, 2019 at 10:48 pm

At “The What” - We have entered into a very precarious time in Canadian History in which our society is becoming increasingly stratified along various rights regimes. It is unsustainable. This was a mistake borne out of the constitution which specifically speaks to the specific interests of aboriginals and non-aboriginals as divergent and as a consequence, competitive.

This is unfortunate, stupid and dangerous to the democratic process. Subsumed within this constitutional chimera is the contentious calamity of a system of infinite returns in a system of limited resources. Other’s rights necessarily impact your rights and limit your ability to exercise equal rights because in the legalistic framework your rights are determined and not automatic.

But now we have rights domains of exclusive privilege for this group and that group. The struggle continues. The struggle is eternal. The irony however is that legal determinism is inherently and at times stupidly individualistic and therefore contrary to collectivist cultures or ideals. A nation divided amongst itself cannot stand. This is the unintended consequence of the constitution - infinite argumentation, infinite regression, and infinite reductionism.

The Courts, necessary, but they have destroyed Canada, and will continue to do so advancing internecine objectives on this impulse and on that impulse at the behest of those who bill by the fraction of an hour. It is no wonder the legal profession is associated with vultures - Those carrion eaters.

You should be concerned with how the Courts are interpreting and enforcing the constitution in a matter that is anti democratic - And you cheer them on - Give your head a shake!

Up 0 Down 2

The what? on Aug 22, 2019 at 5:39 pm

So it is to a boiling point for you? Even though everything you see in Yukon has been sanctioned by the highest courts in Canada, even though just about everybody sees it as the right thing to do?
So what happens after we have passed the "boiling point"?

Up 10 Down 3

Joe on Aug 21, 2019 at 11:02 pm

@bingo-have you seen the sat reports of French speaking students? Might want to check that out.

@ Seth-hard to agree with your rational with incomplete statements, however I do agree we have let our political system morph into some weird entitled machine that lacks any accountability.

The problem we have is that some people believe they are more entitled than others based on timelines. Now I’ve been here nearly 40 years, born Canadian but if I said I have more rights than a 1 year landed immigrant I’d be called a racist and all kinds of human right violations but, it’s ok for a special interest group to say they have more rights than others because they (although genetics can be argued) may have been here for 18,000 years. Now the planet is 4 billion years old so timelines are minute either way. So it’s ok for some but not for others? Big problem and I think it’s close to a boiling point.

Up 15 Down 4

Seth Wright on Aug 20, 2019 at 8:10 pm

Yo Joe - The reason it is being done is not because members of the dominant society have anything to learn. It is not even being done for the purpose of inclusion.

One of the biggest scams going has been perpetrated by the powers that be; “aboriginal policy development over the past thirty years has been manipulated by non-aboriginal lawyers and consultants.”

It represents big dollars, billions of dollars, and it is helpful that the issues lend themselves well to psychological manipulation through the transformative press of politics so that those who are paid to represent your interests can convince you to act against them.

Ahhh... The hubris of politics! Somebody once said, suffer the politicians into me.
Archaic Definition - Children: persons who act on impulse and feeling unrestrained by a fully developed superego.
Caution: If not properly chastised by an ethical and morally invested electorate a “politician” can create a role reversal in which the servant becomes the master.

Synonym - Politician: Spoiled child.

Up 24 Down 4

Hey teacher,DON'T leave those kids alone. on Aug 20, 2019 at 4:48 pm

Ways of knowing and doing?
What the heck is wrong with having to have the ability to read, write, spell,
and do arithmetic before you get a diploma? Teachers that think making a student feel good about themselves, is all that matters, have never lived in the real world.

Up 35 Down 5

Joe on Aug 20, 2019 at 8:23 am

Of course indigenous culture should be taught as history, but forcing kids to learn skills they will never use in the real world is a big waste of money. Who comes up with these ideas? What is the point? Although we all realize the political b.s. of this.

Up 41 Down 4

Groucho d'North on Aug 19, 2019 at 10:16 am

So why is there an exhaustive consultation process for so many lesser issues, but when it comes to what our children should be taught to help them survive in their futures, the parents and others in the community do not get an opportunity to review and comment on the proposed changes to their children's education? Looks like a political power play at work here.

Up 37 Down 38

jc on Aug 16, 2019 at 5:56 pm

And by the way, I think its vitally important that the traditional languages of the FN is taught. Not just to the FN, but to anyone who is interested. Not to sound racist, but it's more important than French up here.

Up 42 Down 1

jc on Aug 16, 2019 at 5:54 pm

Funny but, #3 was one of the major programs we had when I was in high school back in the 1950s. We learned trades such as mechanics, electrician, shop, carpentry, drafting and more. What happened since? Well, I guess it's what goes around finally comes around eventually.

Up 63 Down 8

Bingo on Aug 16, 2019 at 4:12 pm

So kibosh French at FH - all together a waste of time. Get these kids that are interested in trades into such programs like they do in other countries. Kids graduating should know how to do their taxes, complete a resume and interview for a job.

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