A empty classroom is pictured at McGee Secondary school in Vancouver on September 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Alberta panel suggests schools ‘balance’ lessons about climate change, oilsands

Panel also recommends social studies include importance of natural resources to province’s economy

Alberta’s education minister is endorsing a panel report that recommends school children learn all views about climate change along with the value of the province’s oil and gas sector.

Adriana LaGrange says she is receiving reports from parents of “extremist views” being taught in schools.

“There was a particular document that was shown to me recently — and I currently have my department exploring — in terms of our children being taught that they are the final generation to deal with climate change,” LaGrange said.

“Climate change is real, but we do want that presented to our children in a balanced way.”

Asked how climate change would be taught in a balanced way, LaGrange replied: “We would be looking for research, evidence-based knowledge to be transferred to our students, and that will be included in the curriculum at age-appropriate time periods.”

LaGrange formed the panel last August to explore ways to improve the kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum. Its report was released to the public Wednesday.

One of the recommendations urges the government to “ensure the social studies curriculum reflects a balance of perspectives with respect to the importance of Alberta’s resource-rich economic base in relation to the impact on the economy, families, services and government.”

Panel member Glenn Feltham said environment and climate change need to be taught, but as part of a broader context that includes Alberta’s economy, its history and research being done “in things such as the oilsands to lessen the impact on climate.”

The report echoes a promise by Alberta’s United Conservative government to reframe the terms of what it has called a damaging, one-sided debate on climate and the role of the energy industry.

The UCP has set up a $30-million-a-year “war room” to promote the oil and gas sector and to challenge what it deems to be deliberate misinformation on the environmental impact of its bedrock industry.

NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman said she favours students being given all the facts and taught to think critically, but added that when LaGrange calls for balance, it usually means subliminal imbalance.

Hoffman noted that last spring, LaGrange brought in legislation affecting gay-straight alliances in schools. The minister said the changes were designed to balance the rights of children, parents and schools. Hoffman said the result was a disincentive for children to join the social groups, an accusation LaGrange has rejected.

“I do think there are ulterior motives here,” said Hoffman.

“It’s very clear this government has a very significant bias. They are spending $30 million a year on a war room to attack facts.”

READ MORE: Canadian schools spend more as enrolment and test scores fall

Jason Schilling, head of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said teachers are already performing many of the panel’s proposals: teaching literacy and numeracy, and making sure all sides are heard on complex topics.

He urged LaGrange to contact his organization if she has concerns about speakers in schools or how climate change is being taught, “as opposed to making comments like this in the media. I think it inflames situations.”

The panel’s report made multiple recommendations on how to transform the curriculum, including standardized literacy and numeracy tests in Grades 1 through 5 to catch and correct any learning difficulties.

Members of the public are invited to review the recommendations in an online survey until Feb. 24.

The Canadian Press

Education

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Red Deer remains at two active COVID-19 cases

Alberta confirms 94 new cases over past two days

Lacombe Tourism, LPAC host Canada Day mobile concert

Travelling show brings Canada Day to resident’s doorsteps

Ellis Bird Farm celebrates Canada Day and prepares for ‘a good summer’

Purple Martin birdhouse rededication highlights celebration

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

PODCAST: The Expert tackles the return of sports

Cam Moon, Joe Whitbread, Byron Hackett and Todd Vaughan discuss how sports can come back

2 arrested in Wendy’s fire after Rayshard Brooks’ shooting

2 arrested in Wendy’s fire after Rayshard Brooks’ shooting

Florida officer fired after bodycam shows him hitting woman

Florida officer fired after bodycam shows him hitting woman

Democrats say troop threats should be pursued ‘relentlessly’

Democrats say troop threats should be pursued ‘relentlessly’

Epstein pal arrested, accused of luring girls for sex abuse

Epstein pal arrested, accused of luring girls for sex abuse

July added to COVID-19 commercial rent-relief program

July added to COVID-19 commercial rent-relief program

Auto sales down in June, but rebounding as Canadians venture out on the road

Auto sales down in June, but rebounding as Canadians venture out on the road

US issues guidelines but no new rules for safe air travel

US issues guidelines but no new rules for safe air travel

Most Read