On Campus

Ont. to streamline ‘overcrowded’ curriculum

Too many “expectations” placed on students

A review of Ontario’s school curriculum seeks to make sure children in Grades 1 to 8 have enough time to learn the skills they need to continue their education. It is not meant to overhaul the entire system, the province’s education minister, Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday.

Wynne said teachers have been complaining about the curriculum for some time, saying it’s overcrowded and doesn’t give kids the time needed for practical learning.

“One of my concerns is that there’s a lot of content that teachers have to cover when they’re teaching in elementary school, and so what I want to make sure of is that there’s the right content and that kids have enough time to practise the fundamental skills so that they’re ready when they leave elementary school,” Wynne said.

The government has set up a special advisory group to conduct the review and expects to receive its recommendations—based on input from teachers and school boards—in February. An initial discussion paper found that too many “expectations” were built into the curriculum designed 10 years ago.

“For many respondents, ‘overcrowding’ was not only about the amount of academic content that needed to be covered but also about the need to address social, physical, emotional, cultural and developmental aspects of learning,” the paper said.

But Wynne said the move wasn’t about creating a new curriculum. “We just want to take that arbitrariness out of it, streamline it, make sure that the skills are still there, but making sure kids have enough time to learn the fundamentals,” she said.

A final decision about what changes are needed will be made by the spring of next year, with the goal of implementing them for September 2011. NDP education critic Rosario Marchese said the review was overdue, and hoped it would focus on the right priorities.

“If they simply correct some of that overwhelming information that we have given to students, some of it that is a bit too much for the level where it is taught . . . that would be great,” he said. “I’m hoping that’s what the government is going to do, and not more than that.”

The Canadian Press

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.