Conseil supérieur de l'éducation
 
Toward a PROMISING Renewal of Programs of Study

While it deems the Minister of Education’s policy statement Québec Schools on Course to hold great promise, the Conseil supérieur de l’éducation stresses the importance of creating conditions conducive to achieving the reform’s full potential. "The policy statement offers new hope in the possibilities for renewal which the education community has long awaited. For elementary and secondary students to benefit most from the proposed changes however, certain conditions must be implemented and specific concerns dispelled", stated Conseil President Céline Saint-Pierre.

At the September launching of the brief Pour un renouvellement prometteur des programmes à l’école [Toward a Promising Renewal of Programs of Study] at an elementary school in Québec City's Neufchâtel district, Ms. Saint-Pierre pointed out that the Conseil had chosen to examine the aims proposed in the educational policy statement immediately, rather than wait for the Minister to request it to study the amendments to the basic school regulations, as required by its incorporating legislation.

 

Basis of the new curriculum

 

The Conseil supérieur de l’éducation began by studying the threefold mission of providing instruction, socializing and providing qualifications that the Education Act defines for schools. The Conseil recommends that the Minister of Education ensure that the mission of schools be interpreted very broadly, and that it promote a humanistic approach fostering the student's overall development as an individual and as a citizen.

The Conseil recommends that subject integration or cross-curricular learning be developed at the elementary level rather than parallel programs across a range of subjects. The five major fields of learning retained by the Minister — languages; technology, science and mathematics; social life; arts; personal development — should be emphasized and integrated with the expected skills — intellectual, methodological, language, and social skills.

Given the requirements of interdisciplinarity, the Conseil stresses the importance of fully acknowledging the problems caused by the deep-rooted practice of isolating subject areas. The new programs should also place more emphasis on outcomes, allowing each establishment considerable leeway regarding the use of time and means employed for meeting these outcomes.

 

Problematic elements and conditions of implementation

 

The Conseil supérieur de l’éducation points out that some aspects of the basic school regulations appear highly problematic.The Conseil remains strongly in favour of 25 hours per week in the classroom for elementary school students, instead of the current 23.5 hours. The lion's share of this increase could be assumed by specialists.

The Conseil also has strong reservations regarding the withdrawal of introductory natural science and social science (history and geography) in the first cycle of elementary education. With regard to the first cycle of secondary education, the Conseil recommends that the following two proposals be reexamined: the merging of science and technology and the reduction of their time allocation, and the increase in the time allotted for French, language of instruction.

Finally, the Conseil examines the conditions favourable to genuine curriculum renewal. Although it realizes how difficult it is to break free from the existing model of bureaucratic implementation, the Conseil recommends that significant attention be paid to how, and how quickly schools adopt the proposed changes and that the necessary research and development funds be made available.The Conseil reminds us that each group of players has an essential role and, in particular, it emphasizes the necessary contribution of teachers in this process of change.

Panorama • Volume 3, Number 3 • November 1998

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