Aboriginal education will be enhanced in Rocky Mountain district

The agreement supports the academic, cultural and social needs of all Aboriginal learners in School District 6.

Golden’s new school year will bring with it a few changes to the curriculum.

The Rocky Mountain school district (SD 6) signed its first Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement at the end of the last school year, making this the first school year with the enhanced programs.

The agreement supports the academic, cultural and social needs of all Aboriginal learners in SD 6. The agreement also includes four goals, which are set within the teachings of a medicine wheel. Each goal (cultural, mental, physical and emotional) has equal importance and provides a holistic approach to enhance school success.

The Province’s new education minister, Mike Bernier, is also starting a three-year transition to a new curriculum, which will emphasize “hands-on” learning, environmental education and an aboriginal perspective. These areas will be present in “every single component in the curriculum.”

The Rocky Mountain school district has 15 Aboriginal education support workers that collaborate with teachers to integrate Aboriginal content in the classroom and provide academic assistance to students. They also connect elders to the classroom and plan community events.

The district, which includes the communities of Invermere, Kimberley and Golden, also invites local artisans to share their craft with students.

“Rocky Mountain school district is very pleased to be signing its first Aboriginal education agreement with our partners. This agreement is a statement of our shared commitment and vision for all Aboriginal learners and signifies the importance that we all place on the relationships that support the educational enhancement of each student,” said  Amber Byklum, Rocky Mountain school district board chair.

The six-year completion rate for Aboriginal students in SD 6 has improved from 55.7% in 2009-10 to 63.4% in 2013-14. The provincial six-year completion rate for Aboriginal students is now at a record high of 61.6%.

As for the other changes to the school curriculum, parents can look for themselves at grade-by-grade documents posted at curriculum.gov.bc.ca, listing learning standards and areas of emphasis.

In the science curriculum, for example, students are to be taught “big ideas” that in Grade 1 include “observable patterns and cycles occur in the local sky and landscape.”

By Grade 8, they are to learn how “Earth and its climate have changed over geological time.”

Science competencies required by Grade 7 include the ability to “exercise a healthy, informed skepticism and use scientific knowledge and findings for their own investigations to evaluate claims in secondary sources” such as media reports.

By that time they should be able to identify possible sources of error in their investigations, understand qualitative and quantitative evidence and “demonstrate an awareness of assumptions … and bias in their own work and secondary sources.”