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U of A prof working on Alberta curriculum calls out Kenney for 'contrived' critique

Kenney said the curriculum rewrite is being done in secret and undermining parental authority

Lindsay Gibson called UCP leadership candidate Jason Kenney's critiques unfounded.

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Lindsay Gibson called UCP leadership candidate Jason Kenney's critiques unfounded.

A University of Alberta professor working on the Alberta Education curriculum for Social Studies said Jason Kenney’s critique of the draft proposed scope of the curriculum was “unfounded.”

Lindsay Gibson is a professor of education at the U of A who has worked on other curriculum builds in the past, including in British Columbia. He said for Kenney to criticize the curriculum at this stage is “jumping the gun” because those working on the study plan haven’t fully established what its outcomes will look like.

This comes after Kenney made comments about the social studies curriculum when he launched his campaign for UCP leadership on July 29. Kenney said that the curriculum didn’t have enough Canadian or military history, and instead pushed NDP ideologies by covering things like climate change and colonialism.

“To criticize and say there isn’t enough military history or Canadian history in it is really premature because nothing is really in there,” said Gibson. “I just think the criticism was unfounded at this point in time.”

Minister of education, David Eggen, also responded to Kenney’s remarks on Twitter by calling them “absolute baloney.”

“Kenney is lying large. School and curriculum respect the military. Always have, always will. Shameful talk,” he tweeted.

Gibson said he saw on Twitter that Kenney and his followers were also taking issue with students being referred to as “agents of change." 

“They see this as evidence of social justice warriors or social justice commitment, but it just seems odd to me,” he said.

The idea of agents of change is can students recognize in their lifetime things that they think aren’t right and know ways and methods to bring about that change—so that could be about anything from opposing a law to a variety of other things. It seems contrived”

In his speech, Kenney also said he feels that the NDP is “undermining parental authority and that the curriculum is being written in secret by not naming those working on it—something Metro has covered over the last year.

Gibson said as a university professor and public intellectual he’s happy to be transparent and speak with those interested in learning about the curriculum building process but said he understands why some individuals don’t want their names publicized.

“At the end of the day is people are volunteering their time and saying that they really want to help build this curriculum and at no point did they ever expect that this would be a highly political process where their name would get dragged into it—people probably would have thought twice about that,” he said.

Gibson said he thinks the Alberta government could help quell these issues by releasing a generic demographic of the group, as well as what the process and criteria for choosing them.

The professor said if individuals are complaining that this hasn’t been a public process, he disagrees and said there have been surveys as well as public engagements and there will be further opportunity for input in the future.

Gibson said this has been the most diverse group of people he’s worked with on a curriculum development, adding that there are academics, people from museums, Indigenous people as well as subject experts working on it.

Earlier this week Gibson invited Kenney over Twitter to reach out to him with any questions about the curriculum, but said he’s heard nothing but silence since.

“I take that as they’re not really interested. It wasn’t about the substance of the ideas they’re debating, they’re really using this to make a political point,” he said.

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