Why The Oil Industry MUST be Involved in Designing New Curriculum
March 18, 2014
I was having lunch with a friend recently who asked me, as a teacher, what I think about the fact that companies such as Syncrude and Suncor, are being consulted when redesigning the Alberta Education Curriculum. “I think it’s brilliant” was my reply. The incredulous look on her face prompted me to explain.
When you stop focusing on the fact that it’s “big, dirty” oil companies that are being consulted, it makes perfect sense! Who, especially in Alberta, is going to hire our children once they have completed their 13 years of schooling? Yup, the oil and gas industry.
If you google “Biggest Alberta Employers”, the three companies listed to cooperate with Alberta Education are in the top twenty of companies who employ the MOST Albertans. So why WOULDN’T we want them giving their input as to what they need in their employees?
Does this mean they are single handedly designing the curriculum? Absolutely not. Teachers who are experts in their fields, nominated by their principals, are creating the curriculum. At least four different boards, from across Alberta, have been chosen to contribute to the curriculum as it is being drafted. Just as expert teachers are being consulted, so should experts in industry also be consulted. As stated in the Edmonton Journal article “companies such as Syncrude Canada, Cenovus Energy and Suncor Energy are included among partners “in helping draft Alberta’s future curriculum for our students” from kindergarten to Grade 12” See that word AMONG – it does not mean that they are single handedly writing our new curriculum! In fact, other industries HAVE been asked for their input, but we don’t hear about them.
As Education Minister stated in the same article, “We want the economy involved in the education system,” Johnson said Tuesday. “If we’re going to build a relevant education system, we need the voice of the employer, the business community, economic development — we need those people at the table.”
As a parent and a teacher, I completely agree. If we want our kids to learn relevant and current information, we need input from many different areas. The oil and gas industry contains MANY different jobs within its one sector; from administration to site management, from welding to computer programming. Running an industry this huge requires a huge range of skills, many of which need to be considered when designing a new curriculum for our future students and eventual job force.
I also wonder; if Alberta Health Services had been listed as the major industry being consulted, would people be so up-in-arms? The oil and gas industry holds a huge stigma in people’s minds. And yet, lets be honest here, their industry drives our economy. Alberta is rich and our lives are good, because the Oil and Gas Industry is wealthy. In this year’s Money Sense ranking of the Top 25 places to Live in Canada, #1,2,3 & 17 were Albertan cities. Life is damn good in Alberta, and we’d do well to remember who the players are who make it so.
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