Skip to main content

Ted Byfield: Mysterious secrecy surrounds sweeping curriculum revamp

Alberta Education spurs wild rumours, errors and pseudo-fiction, all for no visible reason

Ted Byfield: Mysterious secrecy surrounds sweeping curriculum revamp

This article is full of errors. It is a fictional account of what actually happened; even the date and my affiliation are wrong. I was never contacted by the author for fact checking of this article. Technical problems do happen and yes it would have been nice to have had a full 15 minutes, but that was in no way an intentional slight by Alberta Education. This divisive article should be deleted.

The above letter is from Dr. John Bowman, distinguished professor of mathematics at the University of Alberta, and the subject of a column I wrote in this space last week. Dr. Bowman has of late played a central role in opposing the government’s planned changes in the provincial maths curriculum. Among other things, they propose to abolish compulsory memorization of the multiplication tables. He and other mathematicians have volubly denounced this before protest crowds at the Legislature as well as in the media. Many of these curricular changes in the maths program have already been instituted, and according to teachers and critics they simply are not working. Kids are being misled, confused, and alienated from the subject.

All of which has been a matter of record, but Education Minister David Eggen has made an announcement which vastly expands the dimensions of the conflict. He has launched and is now pursuing what he describes as the most sweeping curricular changes in the history of Alberta education. So the maths changes are merely part of a much wider endeavour.

But for reasons unknown, he has surrounded the entire operation with a wall of secrecy, unprecedented in Alberta political history within living memory. Who is actually running this Herculean operation is totally secret. How their work is constructed is secret — is it by committees perhaps, or by individuals, or by imported expertise? All secret. What are these people doing day by day? Are hearings being held? Who gets to testify? Strictly confidential. The educational lives, capabilities and intellectual component of our children could be critically influenced here, all secretly. It boggles the mind.

It also invites numerous unnecessary problems  in which people get hurt, one of them in this case Dr. John Bowman. Consider the situation. When vital changes such as Mr. Eggen describes are being fashioned for our schools then the media and the general public want to know what, why and how. And when a government slams the door on them, then they will make every effort to discover the story some other way. And that is what the media in a democracy are supposed to do. It’s their responsibility to find out as best they can. The result will be errors, omissions, pseudo-fiction, and numerous grievances, but that’s what the government brings upon itself when it shuts the door.

This article continues at [Ted Byfield Blog] The mysterious secrecy surrounding Alberta’s sweeping curriculum revamp

Back to top