Thursday, September 15, 2011

Alberta Education's new Framework for Learning - A Brief Critique

Alberta Education has, just distributed the new Framework for Student Learning. On the whole, it is an excellent document, based on sound research and a reflection of much public input-

It is an extremely important publication since it,

“is a foundational element for the review and replacement of the student learning outcomes in the current Ministerial Order (MO) on the Goals and Standards Applicable to the Provision of Basic Education. The Framework and the new MO, along with revised standards, guidelines and processes, will provide direction for the development of future curriculum (programs of study, assessment, and learning and teaching resources) (Page 2)”.

The following graphic illustrates the framework (Page 4).

However, the use of “entrepreneurial spirit” is misplaced; the term does not represent the views of the majority of Albertans, but rather has a strong bias toward the powerful business community minority lobby. Let’s look at some definitions:

a) Definition - entrepreneur: “A person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for a business venture”.

b) Definition - entrepreneurial: “willing to take risks in order to make a profit.”

There are no synonyms. Do we want to produce every student with motivation to “make a profit”? Is the role of public education the production of citizens bent on assuming risks to establish business ventures? What about the creation of ‘social enterprises’ that have the goal of the betterment of society rather than just making a profit? What about the fact that business ventures that answer only to shareholders and not to the greater society is one factor that is contributing to our greater & greater disparity between the rich and the poor? What about the principal of equity? The use of ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ as a pillar to guide the development of the education system is both narrow and backwards rather than future orientated. It’s time for new economic models that are based upon collaboration, sharing of resources and sustainability.

There is a way to edit the document so that it would be representative of the vast majority of Albertans. Again, taken directly from the document, is the description of ‘entrepreneurial spirit’:

creates opportunities and achieves goals through hard work, perseverance and discipline; strives for excellence and earns success; explores ideas and challenges the status quo; is competitive, adaptable and resilient; and has the confidence to take risks and make bold decisions in the face of adversity.

I have no objection to the description being a picture of some of the students that the education system in Alberta should produce. However, this is not a description of ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ according to the definitions of both entrepreneur and entrepreneurial spirit.

The solution - A word related to ‘entrepreneurial’ is ‘enterprising’. The quote above is a description of an ‘enterprising’ individual. The definition of enterprising is "marked by imagination, initiative, and readiness to undertake new projects." ‘Enterprising’ conceptually a more inclusive word than ‘entrepreneurial’ and does not have a business bias and is more representative of the full range of Albertans. I propose that the pillar of ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ be replace by ‘enterprising spirit’.

What do you think?

No comments: