Common Values & Beliefs Committed To…?? Alberta Programs of Study Series (Part 1)

Click here to watch this entire series’ video playlist on YouTube.

Now that we’ve established the importance of world views, we’re going to apply what we have learned by looking at government curriculum, known as the Alberta Programs of Study, in this province.

My twenty-five years of teaching in the public system and over forty years’ experience in education has provided me with insights that I want to share with you. I hope this leads you to be better informed regarding public education and programming.

Today, we are going to take a look at what government programming is; what foundation the Alberta Programs of Study is based on; and why we should seriously consider what we are getting into before we adopt it as part of our children’s upbringing.

Psalm 118:8 states that it is better to trust in the Lord, than to put our confidence in man. Being the central verse of the Bible, we can assume that this message is the central message of the Biblical narrative.

Applying this directive, we can question whether the Alberta Programs of Study is leading us to put our trust in God or to put our confidence in man. To answer that question we need only ask what place the Lord has in the government’s programming? Point zero something? Zero point one maybe, but zero would be a pretty fair average and certainly not in a positive light.

So, is it leading us to trust in the Lord or to put confidence in man? Who wrote it? Why was it written? Where is it taking our children? Upon what world view is it based?

To answer those questions we will take a look at what the Alberta School Act of 1988 has to say. Right in the Preamble, before anything else, it says, “Whereas the education community in making decisions should consider the diverse nature and heritage of society in Alberta within the context of its common values and beliefs.”

Similarly, in the proposed new Alberta Education Act, Section 16 (1) reads: “All courses or programs of study and instructional materials used in a school must reflect the diverse nature and heritage of society in Alberta, promote understanding and respect for others and honour and respect the common values and beliefs of Albertans.”

There are a lot of questions one can ask regarding this statement! Did you know that in Alberta we have common values and beliefs? I find this a rather interesting statement in light of the fact that we advance ourselves as a multicultural society, which, I am sure you would agree, is not fertile ground for “common values and beliefs”.

I’ll bet you, we could probably start a culture war right now, if we were to suggest what some of these common values and beliefs could be. Since they have to be based on culture and we are a province of many cultures, advancing one set of common values and beliefs essentially tramples on another!

If it is possible to have common values and beliefs within the province, what are they? Does the government actually believe we have common values and beliefs in the Province of Alberta or is it just as possible that it wants to establish them through its education system?

If we were to actually list these common values and beliefs, who would be able to contribute? Christians? Not likely!

The problem is, even if given the opportunity to do so, we can’t even agree on what Christianity is, much less find common ground that we could advance as our “common values and beliefs.” How do you think we managed to create so many denominations?

Besides, how well do you think the world would receive our common values and beliefs when quoting from the Bible? Advancing the common values and beliefs of one world view essentially trumps those of another. Our biblical world view may work for us, but it is not likely to work for others.

So, our first concern regarding the public curriculum is the stated but unlisted “common values and beliefs” upon which the legislation respecting education is based.

This legislation also says that we are committed to something. What, exactly is it that we are committed to? Let’s go back to the 1988 Alberta School Act.

Going right back to the same Preamble that claimed we have common values and beliefs, it also says: “Whereas the Government of Alberta affirms its commitment to the preservation and continuation of its one publicly funded system of education through its two dimensions: the public schools and the separate schools.”

The preamble to the new Alberta Education Act has a similar statement which reads:

“Whereas the Government of Alberta believes in and is committed to one publicly funded education system that provides a choice of educational opportunities to students and that honours the rights guaranteed under the Constitution of Canada in respect of minority language and minority denominational education through the dimensions of public, separate and Francophone schools.”

Is there any mention of private schools or home education in this last statement? Well, they’re certainly not part of the preamble. Could it be that neither is really as important to the government as a singular monopoly system that can make sure we are exposed to the common values and beliefs mentioned in this province’s School and Education Acts?

So the government is committed to one public education system, using one curriculum that establishes what the government deems to be our common values and beliefs.

If you’ve had any experience with government education officials, you should know that the government is very committed to its “commitment”!

Knowing how great an influence school has on children, the question of greater significance is, what is the government ultimately committed to?

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